When the Arizona Cardinals signed third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu on Thursday, there was much speculation that the four-year contract would include stipulations based on Mathieu’s history of failed drug tests at LSU (Mathieu reportedly told NFL teams during the draft evaluation process that the number of failed tests was in the double digits).
That speculation was partly based on a report that came out shortly after the draft indicating that Mathieu would receive no guaranteed money or signing bonus but instead would have to earn his bonuses by successfully passing drug tests and staying on the roster. His agent, Pat Lawlor, strongly denied that report.
As it turned out, Mathieu did in fact receive a $265,000 signing bonus as part of his deal, an amount much smaller than the slotted bonus figure of $662,500 based on where he was drafted at No. 69 overall. However, NFL.com reported Friday that Mathieu can earn the rest of the slotted figure — that’s an additional $397,500 — over the remaining three years of his contract in the form of roster bonuses, which of course would only be paid if Mathieu were able to stay clean and remain with the team.
According to NFL.com’s Ian Rappaport, there is no specific language in Mathieu’s contract with the Cardinals specifying drug test requirements or basing his compensation on passing them. So how will the Cardinals know for sure if he’s staying clean? Mathieu has taken care of that issue by voluntarily entered the NFL’s drug testing program, Rappaport said via Twitter.
As I said on Total Access: Tyrann Mathieu enters @nfl in league’s drug test program, per source. Subject to as many as 10 tests per month
For comparison, the NFL has previously stated that it conducts 10 tests per team per week during the season, which combined with frequent offseason testing results in an average of about five tests per player per year, although some players obviously receive more due to reasonable-cause testing for previous occurrences. Teams can also conduct drug tests if agreed to by the player, but since Mathieu has been entered into the NFL’s intervention program, only the league — not the Cardinals — can test him during that time.
At the press conference following his selection in the draft, Mathieu made it clear that he’d be willing to do whatever was necessary to get back on the field after more than a year away from football.
“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.”