Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu poses for a video shot during the team's "media day" Monday.
NEW ORLEANS – His own memorabilia – including many Cardinals items – behind him while sitting in the house where he grew up, Tyrann Mathieu talked about a contract he once only dreamed about within these walls.
He isn't "necessarily in a rush" to get the money he will see with his next deal, but "I truly believe something will get done" with the Cardinals, the safety told azcardinals.com.
"I want what is best for my team, and I want what's best for me personally," Mathieu said. "I don't want to be in a
situation where it's bad for both sides. I don't think that's fair to the Cardinals, to my teammates. The only way you win in this league is to get good players around you. You can have two or three people eating up the whole salary cap.
"I think it's important for me to recognize that, to understand that side of it as well. But to also understand the type of player I am."
Mathieu is scheduled to become a free agent after the season. General Manager Steve Keim has repeatedly said the team wants to get a new deal done, although no timetable has been set. After the team concludes minicamp this week, players, coaches and the front office will take more than a month off, so any new agreement is unlikely prior to training camp at the earliest.
Mathieu is set to make about $1.67 million in salary and bonuses in 2016, the final year of his rookie contract. Because he plays so many snaps as a slot cornerback and not safety – something Mathieu himself has noted – his negotiations are a bit more complicated because top cornerbacks generally make more money than top safties. Mathieu is also coming off a second ACL tear in three seasons.
But he was also in the discussion for NFL defensive player of the year before he was hurt late in the year and his dynamic play was sorely missing on the Cardinals' defense when the playoffs began.
Mathieu said he just started doing some football work last week as he rehabs. He said he still doesn't have a timeline for his return, insisting that unlike his return in 2014, he wants to make sure he's 100 percent.
"I think I was really anxious the last time and I never really got back to form," he said. "For this go round, I just want to be patient and understand this is an obstacle, that this isn't just something I can jump over, but something I have to get through piece by piece. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
But, he added, "I'll have a pretty good season this year."
A season that is likely to include a contract extension at some point.
"I couldn't be more happy with my situation in Arizona," Mathieu said. "The fans are great, the people are great, teammates, the coaches are great, even the administration. Those guys are great to me as well. I couldn't think of a better situation. I wouldn't even want to think of a better situation than the one I am in right now."
Behind the scenes at the Cardinals' promotional shots on Monday