Tyrann Mathieu Reportedly Expected to Be Cut After Cardinals Ask S for Pay Cut

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2018

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 09: Free safety Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Arizona Cardinals walks back to the locker room after the Thursday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 9, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Seattle Seahawks won 22-16. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Tyrann Mathieu and the Arizona Cardinals could reportedly be headed for a split. 

According to ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan, "teams are expecting" Mathieu will be released after the Cardinals asked him to take a pay cut. 

Mathieu spoke to NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal on Thursday and confirmed the front office spoke to him about playing under a reduced salary.   

"I wouldn't say (the pay cut offer) was a spit in the face but ... I was offered to play in the Pro Bowl," he said. "So had I played in the Pro Bowl, would the narrative be different? Because I don't know many teams who cut Pro Bowl players. I think about all those things."

The 25-year-old added that while he would be open to restructuring his deal, he's not keen on agreeing to team-friendly terms that feature smaller annual payouts.  

"There's many ways you could restructure a contract instead of just taking money out of my pocket," Mathieu told Rosenthal. "Taking money out of my pocket, I don't like how that feels."

If Mathieu is still on the Cardinals roster Wednesday, the entirety of his $5.7 million base salary for 2018 and $8 million of his $10.7 million salary in 2019 will become guaranteed. 

Mathieu is also owed a $5 million roster bonus that's scheduled to vest on March 16. 

However, Arizona can get out of a chunk of those payments if it cuts Mathieu. Should the Cardinals go that route, they'll be forced to eat $9.3 million in dead cap but save $4.8 million in 2018. 

For a team that's projected to have a shade over $20 million in available cash flow entering free agency, according to Over The Cap, that's not an insignificant amount. 

It would be a risky move, though. 

The 2013 third-round pick has evolved into a prominent piece of the Cardinals secondary over the last five seasons, and he played a team-high 99.4 percent of the club's defensive snaps while registering 74 total tackles, two interceptions and seven pass breakups. 

If the Cardinals ultimately opt for a divorce, first-team All-Pro safety Budda Baker figures to be in line for a major boost in profile after he played less than 50 percent of all defensive snaps as a rookie.