The Arizona Cardinals signed free safety Tyrann Mathieu to a five-year contract extension following a career season for the third-year player, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The deal is worth a total of $62.5 million, with $40 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The deal makes Mathieu the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Mathieu had one year remaining on his original contract with the team before the team locked him in for the foreseeable future.
Back in January, Mathieu told Keith Smith Jersey reporters, “I think this is the perfect place for me. I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life here.” After signing his contract, Mathieu’s response was simple and to the point.
Mathieu’s contract will average $12.5 million Kyle Wilber Jersey per season, which surpasses the $10.8 million Eric Berry will make with the Kansas City Chiefs this season under the franchise tag. Harrison Smith signed a five-year, $51.25 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason, and his average of $10.5 million per year is also lower than Mathieu’s average.
Expecting that kind of production again shouldn’t be a given, but Freeney has 119.5 sacks, 47 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 319 tackles in 194 career games. He’s got a Super Bowl ring, is a seven-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro player. He was always going to wind up signing with a team this season barring retirement.
Freeney said he wanted to play for a team that wins, and that doesn’t describe the Atlanta Falcons over the past few seasons. In 2015, head coach Dan Quinn’s first year at the helm, the Falcons finished with an 8-8 record after a strong 6-1 start to the season. The team’s struggles are due in part to an inability to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks, so the Freeney acquisition fills a legitimate need for Atlanta.
One of the things that stood out about Freeney in All or Nothing, the Amazon series featuring the Arizona Cardinals, was his comprehensive understanding of the game. Breaking down film in preparation for a matchup with the Green Bay Packers, Freeney was able to identify the precise weaknesses he could exploit against Packers left tackle Don Barclay.
“Try to make the plays before the plays happen,” Freeney said. “It’s chess. It ain’t checkers.”
Freeney’s preparation and understanding of how to dominate his matchup against Barclay yielded three sacks, and the Cardinals won that game 38-8.
The Falcons have a number of young players they will call upon to rush the passer this season, like second-year linebacker Vic Beasley and rookie backer De’Vondre Campbell, and Freeney will be in a unique position to not only contribute on the field, but also to mentor these players and impart some of his vast understanding of the game.