Cardinals draft pick Tyrann Mathieu admitted in his conference call with Arizona media members last Friday that there would be stipulations in his contract to keep him on the straight and narrow after an admitted marijuana problem derailed his college career at LSU and dropped him from a possible first-round pick to a third-rounder.
“If it’s a drug test on a weekly basis, that’s what I have to do,” he said. “If it’s meeting with counselors, therapists and sports psychologists, those are things I’m going to have to meet. It doesn’t matter what they put in my contract. I’m happy that they gave me the second chance.”
According to at least one report, Mathieu won’t be paid either if he fails to meet those expectations. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported in his Monday Morning Quarterback column that, in addition to random drug tests as often as every week, Mathieu’s “contract will not include any guaranteed money. Rather, Mathieu will earn bonus money in the form of roster bonuses, to ensure that the club is protected in the event that he lapses and the team chooses to cut him.”
If true, the lack of guaranteed money would considerably reduce the risk the Cardinals are taking. We do wonder how a weekly drug test can be considered random. If a player knows it’s coming every week, or even every other week, it’s not random, but that may be better, too. If Mathieu knows it’s coming regularly, he’s less likely to take the risk.
However, hours later, Patrick Lawlor, Mathieu’s agent, disputed the accuracy of King’s report, telling Ian Rapoport of NFL.com that the defensive back will not sign any deal without guaranteed money, although he will agree to weekly drug testing as part of his contract.
Lawlor told NFL.com that the idea is “ridiculous, (it’s) not gonna happen. We had no contract discussion with them.”
If the Cards expect Mathieu to sign a deal with no guaranteed money, this could clearly create an impasse in negotiations, but if he does agree to those terms, or there is a compromise, the only real risk the Cardinals are assuming is that they might have blown a third-round pick on a player characterized as getting a second chance – but one who, in reality, has been given numerous chances and failed them all.
A third-round pick is supposed to be an impact player. The past five Cardinals selections in that round have been cornerback Jamell Fleming, tight end Rob Housler, receiver Andre Roberts, safety Rashad Johnson and receiver Early Doucet.
If Mathieu strikes out — even under the watchful eye of fellow LSU graduate Patrick Peterson — team president Michael Bidwill may save a little cash, but the pick will still be viewed as a failure and a gross miscalculation by the new management and coaching regime.