Future of Tyrann Mathieu uncertain for Arizona Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 24: Free safety Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field following the NFL game against the New York Giants at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Arizona Cardinals won 23-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 24: Free safety Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field following the NFL game against the New York Giants at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Arizona Cardinals won 23-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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With the new league year steadily approaching, the Arizona Cardinals have a major decision to make on the future of superstar safety, Tyrann Mathieu

The NFL is a business — that’s a harsh reality. Beloved players are often lost to that fact. Cardinal fans might see one of their most beloved and popular players gone by next week.

Mathieu is due $18.75 million should he be on the roster Wednesday, Mar. 18. His salary cap hit is $14.1 million for 2018, according to overthecap.com. High numbers for a player who has since declined after suffering two season-ending knee injuries.

Should Mathieu refuse to take a much-deserved pay cut, it is unlikely the Cardinals would retain him. Cutting him before Mar. 18 would save the club $4.8 million against the cap in 2018. Savings that could go to signing a quarterback or another, cheaper option for an already talented defense.

According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, it is very unlikely Mathieu would be on board with taking less money. It would be “taking money out of my pocket, I don’t like how that feels,” he said.

After signing an extension in 2016 that came with $21.25 million in guarantees, you have to question the decision made at that time by General Manager Steve Keim. Regrets aside, the Cardinals are at an impasse with one of their faces of the franchise.

The silver lining, however, that should alleviate some concern is the ability and potential of budding safety, Budda Baker. Releasing Mathieu would not only save the team some money, but also allow Baker to step into a larger role in his second year.

Mathieu has shown the ability to be one of the best players in the NFL. But that was before his second knee injury. In 2017, he played in every game and was on the field for more snaps than any other player in the league, but did anyone really notice?

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He’s not the same player anymore. He’s certainly not worth the contract and cap hit this year. So if he can’t see that and swallow his pride, and help the team that took a chance on him, then good riddance.

The Cardinals defense will be just fine without you.