The Arizona Cardinals are saying goodbye to the Honey Badger.
Unable to reach an agreement on a contract restructure for the 25-year-old All-Pro defensive back, the Cardinals released Tyrann Mathieu on Wednesday.
Mathieu was due a $5 million roster bonus on the first day of the new league year, which begins later Wednesday, and his entire 2018 salary would have become guaranteed as well.
While there were reports that the two sides worked toward an adjustment that would have lowered Mathieu’s salary-cap number, it wasn’t to be, particularly since Mathieu didn’t want to take a pay cut – and knew that he wouldn’t have to if he ended up on the open market.
General manager Steve Keim said of Mathieu, “I’ve never made a secret that Tyrann has always had a special place in my heart and always will.”
Keim may well feel that way, but on Tuesday he agreed to give oft-injured and always-mediocre quarterback Sam Bradford a one-year, $20 million contract with $15 million guaranteed.
The 69th overall pick in 2013, out of Louisiana State, Mathieu faced a lot of questions before and after he was drafted: he’d been dismissed by the Tigers for violation of team rules, reportedly multiple drug-test failures; Mathieu checked himself into a rehab facility a week after his dismissal, but returned to school for the start of the 2012 fall semester. But on October 25 of that year, he and three other LSU players were arrested for marijuana possession.
Mathieu has said the night he spent in jail for that arrest changed his life.
He’s been a model citizen since entering the NFL; beloved by teammates, who were devastated by his torn ACL late in the 2015 season, and fans.
Mathieu started all 16 games last season, and will likely generate a lot of interest from the 31 other NFL teams.
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