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Tyrann Mathieu wants to be paid like top defender

It sounds like "highest paid safety" won't necessarily cut it.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

While it is expected that the Arizona Cardinals and Tyrann Mathieu come to terms on a lucrative long-term contract extension, there appears to be one thing that is an obstacle -- position labels. The most recent report coming out about how soon a contract extension could be done said Mathieu would become the highest paid safety in the NFL.

But Mathieu doesn't want to be paid like a safety necessarily. "

I just want to get paid as a top defender," Mathieu told ESPN. "I don't want to be slotted as a corner or a safety, because I'm not Patrick Peterson and I'm not Earl Thomas. I'm kind of different than both of those guys, but I still have the same type of impact on the game as those guys do.

"I just want to be paid as a top defender, and however that looks on paper, that's what I want."

Thomas' contract has a $10 million per year average. Peterson's is just over $14 million per year. Is Mathieu looking for something in that range, or something north of that, considering practically every contract is outdated?

There is no doubting Mathieu's impact. He was a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year before he went down with a torn ACL late in the season. His absence was noticed after his injury.

In that ESPN article linked above, there is a quote from Steve Keim that suggests this could be a sticking point. The Cardinals may well be saying they want to make him the highest paid safety. Eric Berry has the highest per-year average at around $10.8 million. The Cardinals could be offering $11 million per year. But Mathieu's camp might be looking more in the $12-$13 million range. He did play more than 60 percent of his snaps last year as a cornerback.

Is there something to panic about? Not really. Not citing examples, but it always feels like roadblocks are mentioned and then suddenly a deal is announced.

Until then, we have something to discuss -- how much should Mathieu be paid?