Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off the LSU team for multiple positive drug tests last August, then arrested in October for marijuana possession, ruining any chance he had to be reinstated to the team. But the Cardinals were willing to take a chance on him in the draft.
"It's uncharacteristic of our organization to take chances on guys with troubled pasts,'' Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told Peter King of Sports Illustrated Sunday night. "But we thought this was a good player and person for us to take.''
The Cardinals, one league source said earlier Sunday, will randomly drug test Mathieu as often as weekly after he signs his NFL contract -- a contract, reportedly, that will not include any guaranteed money. Rather, Mathieu will earn bonus money in the form of roster bonuses, to ensure that the club is protected in the event that he lapses and the team chooses to cut him. If that happens, the Cardinals will be out a prime draft choice, but not any guaranteed money. Last year's 69th pick, wideout T.J. Graham of the Bills, signed a four-year deal with a $671,000 bonus. For Mathieu to make that money, he'll have to be a member of the Cardinals in good standing week to week -- and clean.
Keim said he's counting on one of the Cardinals' cornerstone players, Patrick Peterson, to be a mentor to Mathieu, who is likely to play free safety; they were teammates at LSU in 2010. He said he's comfortable with how important football is to Mathieu, and that he thinks being an NFL player -- and staying one -- will be a powerful motivator. "I'm not naïve about this,'' Keim said. "I know the risk. But the risk to reward was enticing. His passion for the game is off the charts."
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