The Arizona Cardinals picked Mathieu in the third round of the NFL draft this year, grabbing a player who is unarguably talented but carries quite a bit of baggage into his professional career. Mathieu had several missteps while at LSU, including being kicked off the team last August after positive drug tests, according to the university.
That led Mathieu’s stock to drop in the draft — and perhaps made the Cardinals think they could have him play without a great contract. Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported Monday that Arizona plans to give Mathieu random drug tests “as often as weekly,” and the team doesn’t intend to offer a contract with guaranteed money. Instead, Mathieu’s pay will come in the form of bonuses, which puts the team in a good spot if it wants to cut him, King reports.
Not so fast, Mathieu’s agent says.
Pat Lawlor, who represents Mathieu, is calling out the report.
“Ridiculous,” he told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. “Not gonna happen. We had no contract discussion with them.”
Just because there have been no contract discussions doesn’t mean that it won’t happen, of course, but this negotiating has gotten off on a strange foot for both sides. While the Cardinals may be trying to strong-arm Mathieu, the fact that they already picked him and have now revealed their plans gives Mathieu and Lawler the upper hand. The team has also said it plans to move Mathieu to free safety.
Mathieu was already betting coming into the draft that his obvious talent would ensure him a home, no matter what happened in his past. As long as he continues to show potential, the Cardinals may have little room to disagree.