Cardinals release 'The Honey Badger' Tyrann Mathieu

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(Source: 3TV/CBS5 and AP) (Source: 3TV/CBS5 and AP)
Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) leads the team on to the field prior to an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. (Source: AP Photo/Rick Osentoski) Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) leads the team on to the field prior to an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. (Source: AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu in action before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Indianapolis. (Source: /Michael Conroy) Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu in action before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Indianapolis. (Source: /Michael Conroy)
Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) during an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 23-0. (Source: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) during an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 23-0. (Source: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

“It’s a business.” Tyrann Mathieu’s tweet back on Feb. 28 proved prophetic Wednesday as the Arizona Cardinals released the former all-pro and pro bowl safety after five seasons in Arizona.

The team made it official with a tweet and a short news release.

“I’ve never made a secret that Tyrann has always had a special place in my heart and always will,” said Cardinals general manager Steve Keim. “While we all understand this 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.”

Had the Cardinals picked up the option on Mathieu’s contract it would have guaranteed the defensive back $19 million over the next two seasons.
Despite leading the NFL in snaps in 2017 and being invited to play in the pro bowl, the Cardinals deemed Mathieu’s cap number too high to absorb and the “Honey Badger” era in Arizona has come to an end. 

Mathieu signed a $62.5 million deal in 2016.

[RELATED: "I love Arizona and definitely want to be here." Cards Tyrann Mathieu talks about potential free agency]

At the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in late February, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim wouldn’t commit to Mathieu being on the roster.

“There’s a lot of moving parts,” said Keim. “What we’re potentially going to do in free agency, how that affects our cap situation – I feel like we have a pretty good grasp on that.”

Per Mathieu on March 8, the Cardinals did ask him to take a pay cut but Mathieu seemed to dismiss that possibility with another cryptic tweet shortly after Keim’s comments at the combine.

“It’s a gamble and I’m taking all bets… if I lose I vow to make it all back,” Mathieu tweeted. The 25-year-old was clearly prepared to roll the dice on earning a more lucrative contract on the open market. 

Drafted in the 3rd round out of LSU in 2013, Mathieu immediately made his presence felt on the field, in the locker room and in the Phoenix community.  After a promising college career was cut short because of issues with marijuana, the Cardinals gambled on Mathieu the person and he did not let them down.

Mathieu started 11 of 13 games played as a rookie in 2013 and recorded 63 tackles, a sack, two INTs, 15 passes defensed, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a special teams tackle. He earned first-team All-Pro honors from ProFootballFocus.com as a slot cornerback and was named to the All-Rookie team by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).

Mathieu suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the 2013 season. After returning to the field in 2014, it was 2015 when the Honey Badger hit his stride. In 2015 Mathieu was named first-team All-Pro at safety and was selected to his first Pro Bowl after registering 89 tackles, a sack, five INTs (one returned for TD), 16 passes defensed and a forced fumble in 14 games. 

A second ACL injury prematurely ended Mathieu’s 2015 season. He battled back again to start 10 games in 2016 and all 16 games in 2017.

Mathieu during his five seasons as a Cardinal was ubiquitous in the Phoenix community. A constant presence at charity events, Mathieu was also known to pass out turkeys to those in need during the Thanksgiving holiday and come Christmas time, Mathieu made door-to-door stops in person bearing presents to underprivileged children.

Mathieu will be an unrestricted free agent free to sign with any NFL team.  

While we all understand this 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.


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