Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu’s unique circumstances led to a very unique contract.
PFT has obtained the full details of the contract signed by the safety who plays plenty of cornerback. They are as follows:
1. $15.5 million signing bonus, which is not tied to Mathieu passing a physical. (He’s still on the Physically Unable to Perform list after tearing an ACL last December.) That’s more than the full guarantees Vikings safety Harrison Smith and Seahawks safety Earl Thomas received at signing.
2. $1 million base salary for 2016, fully guaranteed at signing.
3. $4.75 million base salary for 2017, fully guaranteed at signing.
4. Salary of $5.75 million in 2018, not guaranteed at signing for injury or otherwise. On the first day of the 2018 league year, it becomes fully guaranteed.
5. Roster bonus of $5 million due on the third day of the 2018 league year.
6. Salary of $10.75 million in 2019, $8 million of which becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the 2018 league year.
7. $10.75 million salary for 2020, not guaranteed.
8. $9.25 million salary for 2021, not guaranteed.
9. $250,000 in annual workout bonuses for 2017 through 2021.
10. $250,000 incentive if named defensive player of the year in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.
If every check is cashed (and if the workout bonuses are earned in every year), it’s a six-year, $64 million deal and a five-year, $62.5 million extension. Another $1.25 million is available — if he wins the defensive player of the year award five straight times.
As a practical matter, it’s a two-year, $21.5 million deal or, given that he was under contract for $1.5 million in 2016, a one-year, $20 million, fully-guaranteed extension. In all, he’s guaranteed $21.25 million even if he’s never able to pass a physical.
For the Cardinals, the protection comes from the complete lack of guarantees beyond 2017. They can move on at that point. If they keep him beyond the first day of the league year, another $13.75 million becomes fully guaranteed and, two days later, another $5 million is earned. So that’s $18.75 million over the next two years. Adding in the workout bonuses, he can make $43.5 million over four years.
Given Mathieu’s injury history, with two torn ACLs in three years, it would have been impossible to roll the dice on his contract year given the money that was on the table for 2016 and 2017. Then, come 2018, the Cardinals exclusively hold the power to decide whether to add two more years.