Mathieu earned Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors in 2015 and was a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year before tearing his ACL while recording an interception.
The Cardinals star signed a five-year, $62.5-million contract prior to the 2016 season but his campaign was truncated after being placed on season-ending injured reserve with a shoulder ailment.
Ahead of the 2017 season, Mathieu said he’s returned to full strength and doesn’t believe there’s anyone who can approach his caliber when he’s in top form.
“I’m feeling great, it will be a great year for us,” Mathieu said via Nicholas McGee of Sporting News. “Any time I’m healthy I feel like I’m the best defensive player in the NFL.”
Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Luke Kuechly, J.J. Watt, and a host of other defenders may object to Mathieu’s claim, but there’s reason for the 25-year-old to have full confidence in himself. When Mathieu is in peak form, there’s nary a defender who plays quite like him and if he can lead the Cardinals back to the playoffs, the standout safety will be in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year again.
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