There had been rumblings over the past few days that the Arizona Cardinals could release safety Tyrann Mathieu, and now it’s officially happened.
The team announced on Wednesday that the man once affectionately known as “Honey Badger” will not be in Arizona’s plans next season, as Mathieu did not want to take a pay cut. With no new contract negotiated, Arizona opted to cut him loose.
“I’ve never made a secret that Tyrann has always had a special place in my heart and always will,” General Manager Steve Keim said in an official statement. “While we all understand this is a part of the business, that certainly doesn’t make it any easier. We all wish Tyrann nothing but continued success in his career and beyond.”
The 25-year-old (!!) Mathieu had signed a 5-year, $62.5 million contract extension less than two years ago, and was due to make $5 million in roster bonus money had he stayed on the roster for the start of the new league year (March 14th). Guarantees were also spread out for his 2018 salary ($5,750,000 according to Overthecap) and $8 million of his $10,750,000 in 2019.
When healthy, Mathieu is a talented and entertaining safety to watch. The big problem, unfortunately, is that he’s rarely been healthy. He tore his ACL and LCL at the end of his rookie season in 2013, tore his other ACL in 2015, and missed several games in 2016 with a shoulder injury. If there is some good news, Mathieu played all 16 games in 2017, marking the first time he’s done that in his NFL career.
It surely likely won’t be too long before he finds a new team. In addition to playing at safety, Mathieu did spend much of 2015 as a slot cornerback, so he’s very versatile. Maybe, just maybe, for the right price, the Seattle Seahawks consider bringing him on board. That could be wishful thinking on my part.