John Clayton: Mathieu wants top-dollar contract
Tyrann Mathieu is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL and is looking for a contract extension.
There is no precedent for the Arizona Cardinals to follow on how much to pay Mathieu due to his hybrid defensive back position.
Mathieu, who is listed as a safety, may receive an extension close to that of Minnesota Vikings’ safety Harrison Smith’s five-year, $51.25 million with $28.578 million guaranteed.
ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton spoke with Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday about Mathieu’s contract situation, in the wake of the Smith extension.
“It probably hurts the Cardinals for getting something done because I’m sure it’s right in line with the numbers that they’re talking about,” Clayton said. “Earl Thomas makes $10 million, now you’re looking at Harrison Smith making $250,000 a year more than him, saying the value for a safety is in that range and that’s where they want Mathieu to be.”
It would benefit Mathieu if he were to be paid closer to that of a cornerback, rather than a safety, as cornerbacks typically make more than safeties.
This offseason, the Washington Redskins signed cornerback Josh Norman to a five-year, $75 million deal with $50 million guaranteed.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mathieu lined up as a safety on a third of his snaps with the rest of his snaps played at cornerback.
Among safeties and cornerbacks, Mathieu finished tied for sixth in interceptions (five), tied for ninth in passes defended (17) and 14th in tackles (89) last season, despite appearing in only 14 games.
The Cardinals were 12-2 and allowed 19.2 points per game with Mathieu healthy last season. With Mathieu on the sideline, Arizona went 2-2 (including two playoff games), while allowing 28.2 points per game.
Mathieu’s impact makes him a centerpiece of the Cardinals defense, which will only continue if the two sides find a common ground in the negotiation process.
“Tyrann, no different than when Earl Thomas was negotiating his contract a couple years ago, wants to be paid like one of the highest paid defensive players in the league. And that’s not going to be done,” Clayton said. “In many ways, it affirms the case of the Cardinals and hurts and slows down negotiations because Mathieu definitely wants more, significantly more. He wants to be treated like a top defensive player, not a top safety.”