The Honey Badger is officially a Cardinal
The former LSU defensive back, also known as the Honey Badger, had an up-and-down college career mostly due to off-field issues.
In his last season at LSU, Mathieu started all 13 games for the Tigers, amassing 76 tackles, six forced fumbles, five fumble recovers, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, 7.5 tackles for loss and three quarterback pressures. The 5-foot-9, 186-pound Tyrann Mathieu’s 2011 campaign was highlighted by becoming a Heisman Trophy finalist, recipient of the Bednarik Award as the nation's top defensive player and unanimous first-team All-America in 2011.
Over his two seasons at LSU, Mathieu registered 133 tackles with 16 for a loss, 11 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries (two returned for touchdowns), four interceptions, 16 passes defensed and six sacks, while also returning 27 punts for 421 yards and two touchdowns.
However, Mathieu spent the 2012 season out of football after being dismissed from the team last August by LSU coach Les Mikes for failing multiple drug tests. It didn’t get any easier down the road as less than two months later he was arrested along with three of his former teammates after the police found large quantity of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his Baton Rouge apartment. However, in the months leading up to the 2013 NFL draft, Mathieu started to work on rebuilding his image and even committed to rehab to get the drug issue under control.
Still, not many teams were willing to take the risk and passed on Mathieu, who was previously projected to be taken in the first round. The Arizona Cardinals figured he could still prove useful if handled properly and believed they had picked up the best playmaker in the draft when the team selected him with the 69th overall pick in the third round of April’s draft.
“I never doubted it,” Mathieu said of signing his first NFL contract. “I knew it was a long shot and it would be a process, but to finally sit down and sign my name on the dotted line means a lot to me.”
“I’m part of a family now, so I’m obligated to the community and the entire Arizona Cardinals organization,” added Mathieu. “The Bidwill family, Steve Keim, the coaching staff, I’m obligated to everybody now. It’s my responsibility.”
It remains to be seen if \Mathieu’s shady history could further jeopardize his NFL career. There were early speculations that the Cardinals will offer him a contract without guaranteed money. Mathieu’s agent remained adamant that was not the case. Seeing how both sides were able to wrap up negotiations in May there probably weren’t many obstacles (including disputes over guaranteed money) in the way of getting the deal done.
“Not that difficult,” Mathieu said of inking his contract with the Cardinals. “It was kind of a walk in the park.”
Mathieu is expected to have an immediate on the Cardinals’ secondary, where he’ll be paired with third-year pro Patrick Peterson. The 21-year-old Mathieu could serve as another option in the return game although the Cardinals could also use Peterson in the same capacity.