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Mathieu’s deal looks more like Blackmon’s than Jenkins’

Mathieu AP

When the Cardinals first made noise about not giving any guaranteed money to safety Tyrann Mathieu, we argued that it was unfair to the player and to the process.  As the 69th player taken in the draft, Mathieu is entitled to a contract that reflects that status, especially since the Cardinals took him knowing about the factors that caused him to slide to round three.

The Cardinals ultimately didn’t get their way; Mathieu’s contract contains significant guaranteed money as part of a $3.052 million deal.  Unlike Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, however, who dug in and got his full slotted signing bonus in 2012 despite a desire by the team to spread things out, Mathieu’s contract tracks the approach utilized by the Jaguars with receiver Justin Blackmon, the No. 5 overall pick in 2012.

Entitled to a signing bonus north of $650,000 and south of $700,000, Mathieu receives only $265,000 up front.  The rest of what would have been the signing bonus has been shifted to roster bonuses paid only if Mathieu is on the team’s 53-man roster, injured reserve, or PUP list for all 16 games in 2013 ($99,375), in 2014 ($102,031), and 2015 ($154,687).  In 2016, Mathieu receives $101,407 if he’s on the team’s 90-man offseason roster on the fifth day of the league year.

Initially reported as money that will be paid to Mathieu only if he isn’t cut due to drug use, the reality is that Mathieu can be denied the payments while still being on the team.  If he’s suspended in 2013, 2014, or 2015, the corresponding bonus evaporates.  And if he’s cut for any reason — drugs or something else — the remaining signing bonus transformed to future roster bonus goes away.

On one hand, the approach remains unfair to the player and the process, because the Cardinals took Mathieu in that slot knowing the risks.  Blackmon’s deal contained protections for the Jaguars only because he was arrested for DUI after being picked but before signing his contract.  Mathieu has done nothing since being picked to suggest that extra measures are required.

On the other hand, perhaps Mathieu needs the structure and accountability as an added incentive to remain clean and out of trouble.  It’s a series of carrots and sticks aimed at persuading Mathieu to stay out of trouble.  If he does, he gets all of the money.  If he doesn’t, the Cardinals move on, with a reduced financial loss.

Besides, Mathieu had limited options.  If he didn’t like the deal, he could hold out for the full season and re-enter the draft in 2014.  That would have put him out of football for at least two full years, with the real possibility that he’d be picked a lot lower next time around.

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15 Responses to “Mathieu’s deal looks more like Blackmon’s than Jenkins’”
  1. patfic15 says: May 28, 2013 9:14 AM

    Checkered past. I’d be nervous to invest millions in the kid as well. If he keeps his head on straight, then you reward him. He’s got an image to overcome.

  2. pats54 says: May 28, 2013 9:15 AM

    Mathieu was picked where he was because of his history with drug use. His contract was structured to pay him accordingly under the condition that he not be suspended because of drug use. What exactly is the problem here? How is this any different than a team who structure a contract with a player with a history of injuries and bonuses them when they are healthy and play in the game?

  3. jjrs89 says: May 28, 2013 9:28 AM

    An optimistic could point out that comparing him to Blackmon and the contract he received, that Matthieu got top 5 money.

    That being said, hopefully this sort of thing is just the thing to straighten him out and keep him hungry. The dude was fun to watch at LSU

  4. winkeroni says: May 28, 2013 9:30 AM

    Is it just me or has Mathieu not really followed through on getting his life together? He gets kicked off the team for too many substance abuse positive tests. Seeks out help then re-enrolls in school only to get arrested for possession.

  5. themacys says: May 28, 2013 9:33 AM

    Unfair?……Really……I think all players should have the same clause in their contracts! With the amount of money paid to pro players, teams should protect themselves. The average guy would be fired without pay for drug use?

  6. michaeljacksonisback says: May 28, 2013 9:51 AM

    Man this guy is going to get “smoked” when Tavon Austin is running by him, and Cook is running over him!

  7. michaeljacksonisback says: May 28, 2013 9:51 AM

    A 175 pound safety in the NFC west?! Lmao!!!!!

  8. thingamajig says: May 28, 2013 10:08 AM

    Obviously Mathieu doesn’t think the contract is unfair because he signed it. Maybe he’s just glad to get another chance.

  9. gbrim says: May 28, 2013 10:33 AM

    A lawyer’s (Florio) definition of unfair is obviously different than a common sense definition. If a contract can be structured to help a drafted player not turn into another Titus Young, especially with this guy’s track record, I fail to see the problem.

  10. silvernblak says: May 28, 2013 11:37 AM

    I guess its a good thing we are not all judged on our past or none of you guys would have a word to say would you?

  11. vltrophy14 says: May 28, 2013 12:50 PM

    Look how many chances Pac-Man Jones got. I hope it works out for Mathieu

  12. ranger40 says: May 28, 2013 2:40 PM

    Will you stop saying the Cardinals were looking to not guarantee any money, that report was fabricated with the intent on creating a story. In fact the Cardinals were on record as saying they never asked for a contract like that. If you want to continue beating a dead horse and talk about this contract, don’t include the part about the Cardinals asking for it, it never happened.

  13. whereyaat says: May 28, 2013 4:27 PM

    “A 175 pound safety in the NFC west?! Lmao!!!!!”
    =========================

    Former Saints linebacker and destroyer of men, Sam Mills, loves hearing garbage like this.

  14. fdugrad says: May 28, 2013 8:16 PM

    Uh, hate to throw cold water on the previous post, however, Sam Mills is NOT in a position to love hearing anything. Sadly, he is dead. RIP Mr. Mills

  15. redbirdsrising says: May 29, 2013 4:47 PM

    “When the Cardinals first made noise about not giving any guaranteed money to safety Tyrann Mathieu”

    Please stop reporting erroneous news. Peter King cited an “Unnamed League Source” and both the Cardinals and the agent have refuted it.

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