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Tyrann Mathieu contract extension tricky because he believes he is more than a safety

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Mathieu sees himself as much more than a safety.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

One of the offseason priorities for the Arizona Cardinals was to get safety Tyrann Mathieu signed to a long-term contract extension. Nothing has happened yet, although we have heard negotiations have begun and the Cardinals have made an offer. Mathieu has said he would like to stay in Arizona, not only for his career, but for the rest of his life. He also has said he knows the Cardinals have leverage right now because of his injuries.

But in the well-publicized video interview he did with CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, we get a peek into how things might get tricky in negotiations.

Currently safeties are not getting a ton of money. While Earl Thomas got four years, $40 million, this offseason has not been good to safeties. Rashad Johnson only got $2 million from the Titans. George Iloka, a young and very productive safety only got $30 million for five years and only $5 million guaranteed.

While Mathieu is a safety, he is actually much more and he sees himself that way.

"A lot of people get stuck as a cornerback or a safety," Mathieu said. "They want to be defined by one particular position. For me, 'Coach, please don't define me as one particular position.' I am smart enough play every position on the field and I am tough enough to play any position on the field."

He has played both safety positions. He has played all the corner positions. He would play linebacker or even defensive end.

That's where things get tough to define. The league pays players essentially by position. The safety position is not worth a ton right now. Cornerbacks are super valuable these days, though. And there really aren't any players in the league quite like Mathieu.

Then there are the knees. he had one complete reconstructed after basically all the ligaments were shredded. Now he is recovering from a torn ACL in the other knee. Durability has to be a concern.

"They have concerns, which is understandable," Mathieu said. "I've had two knee surgeries. At the same time, they know who I am as a teammate, as a football player, what I mean to the community and what I can do on the football field. The easiest thing is to pay me as a safety. But if Pat's (All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson) guy goes down, I have to check Pat's guy. For me, it's about me being compensated for everything I do."

There it is -- the business talk. He has been quoted as saying money isn't the most important thing. But that doesn't mean he won't want to be paid among the top defensive players if he is one of them. He is a safety AND he is a corner. But he is undersized and has had two major knee surgeries. What do you do?

This isn't saying things will get contentious or there will be breakdowns in talks. Everyone seems to believe something will get done. But while it seemed during the season before his injury it would be smooth sailing, it might get a little tricky.