The Arizona Cardinals are making a big move as the new league year approaches. The team is set to release defensive back Tyrann Mathieu after he refused to take a pay cut.
Mathieu signed a five year deal in August 2016 that was worth up to $62.5 million. He was due $10.75 million in 2018, which included a $5 million roster bonus due later today when the new league year begins. The two sides were working on a way to restructure the contract, but could not come to an agreement.
Mathieu played all 16 games last season, marking the first time he has done so in his NFL career. He tore his left ACL and LCL in 2013, and then tore his right ACL in 2015. He was an All Pro safety that year, and it netted him the big contract extension.
He is only 25 years old, and while the knee injuries have slowed him down, but he remains a versatile option in the secondary. The 49ers have some options in their secondary, but they need more depth. Mathieu is a guy who could provide some serious depth at what will likely be a fairly reasonable price.
K’Waun Williams is currently the team’s nickel, and they just added Richard Sherman as an outside cornerback. Mathieu could compete with Williams for nickel and dime work, and also compete with Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, and Adrian Colbert (Eric Reid TBD) on the safety depth chart.
It remains to be seen if they want to go in that direction, but given how young Mathieu is, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.