Tyrann Mathieu: Cardinals have “leverage” in contract negotiations

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BY: ED COLE

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu was a guest of Mike Florio on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio this past Thursday, and he made some headlines when he told Florio that “it’s gonna be kind of a wrestling match” when it comes to him and the Cardinals working out a new deal.

For those out there that watched the interview and heard Mathieu say that, they might have freaked out, thinking the worst, but Mathieu didn’t want his response to Florio’s question to be taken out of context.

“I didn’t necessarily want it to get interpreted the wrong way,” Mathieu said. “What I meant was is, obviously, both sides are going to make an argument about what that person (Mathieu) can do and cannot do. For me, it’s just about being patient, playing it smart, and like I’ve always said, the biggest thing is getting back healthy. I feel like the leverage is really in the Cardinals corner, so for me, it’s just about being patient.”

Mathieu is in the final year of his rookie contract that will see him earn $1,737,250. Last season, the Cardinals got their money’s worth with Mathieu. He earned every bit of his $855,937, with his 89 tackles, a team-high 16 passes defensed, five interceptions (one returned for touchdown), 11 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Mathieu also racked up a lot of firsts last season: His first All-Pro selection, his first Pro Bowl selection and his first “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” award, to go along with him being named “NFC Defensive Player of the Month” for November.

While Mathieu’s waiting for the new deal to get worked out, he’s been working out like crazy with Brett Fischer over at the Fischer Institute. He’s posted videos of him running on the treadmill, and doing crunches with his son, so it shows Mathieu’s level of determination and dedication to getting back to 100-percent for this coming season.

Mathieu suffered his second ACL tear in three years against the Philadelphia Eagles in late December on what looked like a routine interception for him. Unfortunately, Mathieu didn’t stick the landing, and his knee buckled, and he was done for the season.

It’s never easy when a player suffers such a horrible injury like Mathieu did that evening, but if there’s a silver lining to it, it’s that the recovery process was a bit easier the second time around for him.

“Yeah,” Mathieu said. “It’s still difficult all in itself, but it’s definitely been easier. The mental approach, waking up every day, the physical grind is not necessarily as grueling as the first time around, so I’ve been fortunate that this one wasn’t as significant as the other one. I’m super excited about next season, and I know I’ll be healthy around training camp.”

Mathieu has been keeping cornerback Patrick Peterson in the loop on what’s going on with his rehab. The two have been constantly talking, and texting with one another, and Mathieu’s been sharing the videos with his big brother, who’s floored by the progress his little brother’s making.

“You’re gonna see the same Tyrann Mathieu (next season),” Peterson said. “That guy, he’s not gonna change. He knows what it takes to get himself back in that competitive mode, (and) get himself back in that position he once was (in). I’m very, very happy for him, and it just seems like he’s in such a better place than he was due to the first incident (ACL and LCL tears vs. St. Louis Rams in his rookie season).”

“He (Mathieu) knows how to bounce back,” Peterson said. “He knows this one (ACL injury) is going to be much easier than the first one. I have all the confidence in the world that he’ll come back much stronger, smarter, faster and (be) ready to roll.”