According to Jason Cole of B/R, the new five-year, $51.25 million contract signed by Viking S Harrison Smith will have a “serious ripple effect” on contract talks between the Cardinals and DB Tyrann Mathieu.
Cole mentions that the Cardinals’ previous comments that they view Mathieu as the best safety in the league, due to his versatility, could lead to him seeking $11 million per year in his next contract.
This would top both Smith and Chiefs S Eric Berry, who would be the highest paid player in terms of annual salary once he signs his franchise tender.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media previously reported that the Cardinals and Mathieu were “deep in negotiations” regarding a long-term extension that would make him the highest-paid safety.
Cardinals GM Steve Keim has made it clear that locking up Mathieu is a priority for them this offseason and Cole seems to think an agreement could be in place before the start of the regular season.
Mathieu has said previously that he wants to spend the remainder of his career as a member of the Cardinals.
“We’re both eager, we’re both interested,” Mathieu said, via Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910. “I want to spend the rest of my career here. The biggest thing is getting my knee right, rehabbing and being ready for 2016.”
Mathieu, 24, is a former third-round pick of the Cardinals back in 2013, who has quickly become an impact player for one of the best defensive units in the NFL. He is entering the final year of his four-year, $3.052 million rookie contract that included $817,187 guaranteed and stands to make a base salary of $675,000 in 2016.
Unfortunately, Mathieu’s 2016 season was cut short after he suffered a season-ending ACL injury towards the end of the year.
In 2015, Mathieu appeared in 14 games and recorded 89 tackles, a sack, five interceptions with one being returned for a touchdown, a forced fumble and 16 pass defenses for the Cardinals. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 1 cornerback out of 111 qualifying players.