The Arizona Cardinals have already taken care of one of what would have been offseason priorities on Saturday. Several outlets are reporting the team has given cornerback and special teams ace Justin Bethel a three-year contract extension, paying him money that essentially says he will be a defensive starter.
According to NFL Network's Rand Getlin, the extension is worth $15 million over the three years, including $9 million in guarantees and another $1.8 million in incentives and escalators.
He was due to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Bethel is a two-time Pro Bowler for his special team play. The coaches and his teammates have raved about his physical talent as a cornerback, but he is only now getting a chance. He has one start at cornerback in his career and will start this Sunday in St. Louis.
The money he will make essentially says the team sees him as a starting cornerback after this season.
In comparison, current starter Jerraud Powers signed a three-year $10.5 million deal when he came to Arizona to be the starter. Powers is set to become an unrestricted free agent. This contract could signal the Cardinals' willingness to let Powers sign elsewhere.
Bethel was a sixth round pick out of Presbyterian in 2012. His four-year rookie contract was for a little more than $2.2 million total.