News broke Tuesday afternoon of the Arizona Cardinals inking defensive back Tyrann Mathieu to an record-breaking extension. Reports place it at 62.5 million in new money over five years.
The contract is notable for two main reasons impacting the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s a hybrid contract to match a hybrid defensive back
The $12.5 million a year would rank Mathieu 7th in AAV among cornerbacks. Only Josh Norman, Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Trumaine Johnson and Joe Haden would make more per year.
The $40 million guaranteed would place him first, edging out Revis. Pending, of course, the nature of the guarantees. But more on Mathieu’s health history later.
So the deal is comparable to deals for other big-name corners and defensive playmakers — but it blows all preceding safety contracts out of the water. Eric Berry is currently tops in annual pay with 10.8 million; Devin McCourty’s $22 million had been the highwater mark in guarantees.
Mathieu’s pro-football-reference.com page shows that he’s earned the hybrid distinction:
With Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman both locked up through 2018, Mathieu leapfrogging them could very easily have an effect on the next round of negotations. Whenever those informally begin.
(All salary numbers courtesy of overthecap.com.)
Ah, but Mathieu’s not exactly the poster badger for health
He missed the last two games of 2015 and was held out of three games in 2014, including Weeks 1, 14 and 15. It’s his second such injury — once on each knee. most recently just eight months ago.
In a testament to how modern sports medicine has evolved, the extension comes in at a time of uncertainty. Mathieu is expected by many to start this season on the PUP list; in the meantime, he is officially listed as “questionable” for Week 1.
Re Tyrann Mathieu extension: Hearing the Cardinals protect themselves regarding any future injuries in Mathieu contract.— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) August 2, 2016
Injury risk or no, there’s a perception that the Cardinals have no choice but to pay Mathieu. He’s got just one year left on his rookie deal. He made the AP’s All-NFL First Team last season.
But in a slap to conventional wisdom, the Cardinals have actually been more proficient at preventing points with him out of the lineup. In 2014 and 2015 combined, they’ve given up 16.2 ppg when he sits, and 19.9 when he plays.
The sample size is small, for sure. And points allowed isn’t everything. Just don’t tell the Seahawks that.