The Arizona Cardinals took a gamble on Tyrann Mathieu, but they won't risk losing money on him. His contract reportedly won't contain any guaranteed money, meaning the team could release the third-rounder out of LSU at any time with no financial repercussions.
All things considered, the Cardinals, who drafted Mathieu 69th overall, seem to be a good situation for Mathieu. The ballhawking cornerback who starred on LSU's 2011 national runner-up team has drawn criticism after being kicked off the team due to positive tests for synthetic marijuana. But as Mark Sandritter wrote, the Honey Badger joins a team where he has support and several familiar faces, including fellow LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. They'll be handling him very carefully. From NFL.com:
Not only will the Cardinals protect themselves by drug-testing Mathieu randomly, possibly on a weekly basis, but they will construct the third-round pick's contract with no guaranteed money, according to King. Mathieu will earn bonus money in the form of roster bonuses, to protect the team if Mathieu's troubles continue and they choose to cut him.
The decision not to guarantee Mathieu any money doesn't come solely from an "oh no, he used to do drugs" perspective. Mathieu also hasn't played organized football since 2011 and didn't look great at the NFL Combine. He also apparently blew off teams besides the Cardinals, but that panned out well, as he would eventually hear Arizona call his name. If his football talent also pans out, not having guaranteed money won't hurt. He'll keep getting paid as long as the Cardinals see fit to keep him on the roster.