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Mathieu: 'I just want to get paid as a top defender'

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Tyrann Mathieu isn't positive he'll be fully healthy for the start of the 2016 season, but he hopes to get paid before then.

The Arizona Cardinals and the defensive back are deep in negotiations on a long-term deal, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported last week. Rapoport noted that Mathieu will easily become the highest-paid safety in the league.

Many argue that the Honey Badger should get paid corner money, given all the different positions he plays on the field. The Swiss Army Knife defensive backs doesn't care to be labeled.

"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."

When healthy Mathieu is a game-changing talent, owning rare ability to play slot corner, deep safety, cover tight ends, shifty receivers, dole out big hits in the run game and an uncanny knack for rushing the passer.

The trouble has been staying on the field. Mathieu suffered his second ACL tear last season. The 24-year-old defensive back hasn't played in 16 game once in three seasons.

"It's tough because I got two injuries, so the leverage is kind of split in half," Mathieu said. "I don't see myself as a safety. I don't see myself as a cornerback. I see myself as a chess piece, a guy that can move around and can play seven different positions. I don't necessarily want to be slotted as either or."

Mathieu isn't just any chess piece either. When healthy, he's a Defensive Player of the Year-worthy chess piece.

At some point soon, he'll be paid like it.

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