Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Report: Arizona Cardinals agree to five-year extension with Tyrann Mathieu

The Arizona Cardinals have reportedly agreed to a long-term extension with safety Tyrann Mathieu.

The wait is over for the "Honey Badger."

Arizona Cardinals' safety Tyrann Mathieu has agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $62.5 million, which translates to about $12 million annually, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport. 

The contract reportedly comes with $40 million of guaranteed money, and represents the fourth-highest sum of guaranteed money an NFL defensive back has ever received, according to ESPN Stats and Info.  

Mathieu is entering the fourth year of his NFL career after being selected by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2013 draft out of LSU. Mathieu was kicked off the Tigers' team by head coach Les Miles for issues stemming from marijuana usage, but the Cardinals' safety has completely changed his path under the guidance of head coach Bruce Arians.

With an annual salary of $12 million, Mathieu's yearly cap hit now ranks among the 50 highest-paid players in the NFL, which includes more than 20 quarterbacks. 

The Cardinals designate Mathieu as a safety, but the defensive back played more than two thirds of his snaps during 2015 at cornerback for Arizona. Prior to today, New Orleans Saints' safety Jairus Byrd was the NFL's highest-paid safety, with a cap hit of $10.9 million for the 2016 season.

Elite cornerbacks are paid higher salaries than elite safeties, and Mathieu's experience at cornerback undoubtedly positioned him to become the highest-paid "safety" in the NFL. 

Only six NFL cornerbacks make upward of $12 million annually, including Mathieu's teammate Patrick Peterson. Peterson is set to make more than $13 million in each of the next three seasons, before making $11.25 million in 2019 and $12.55 million in 2020.

Mathieu's contract may have been even more substantial if not for his injury history. The Cardinals' defensive X-factor tore his ACL during his rookie season, and tore his other ACL toward the end of the 2015 season. 

The Cardinals anticipate Mathieu will be back and healthy by the team's 2016 season opener against the New England Patriots. 


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