Back in 2013, Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson recommended someone to the Arizona Cardinals. While preparing for that year’s NFL Draft, newly-appointed general manager Steve Keim had his eye on a controversial prospect. A former teammate of Peterson who was kicked off of the LSU football squad for repeated violations of the school’s substance-abuse policy.
When all was said and done, the Cards took Peterson’s advice, and ended up using a third-round pick on safety Tyrann Mathieu. To say that the gamble paid off would be an understatement. Mathieu matured off of the field, and became one of Arizona’s most dynamic performers on defense over the next five seasons.
Eight years have now passed since Mathieu entered the league, and the 28-year old’s career has only gotten better. On February 7th, the now former defensive back of the Cardinals will participate in his second consecutive Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. Mathieu and his teammates hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy last year, and are favored to do so again next weekend.
Mathieu’s time with the Cards came to an unfortunate end in March of 2018. The club had signed the 5’9,190 pounder to a five-year, $62.5 million extension during the summer of 2016, and needed him to give some of it back. Mathieu was released after he refused to take a pay cut, and would agree to a new deal with the Houston Texans just three days later.
The “Honey Badger” would spend just one season with the Texans, before hooking up with the Chiefs in 2019. At the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, Mathieu received the second Pro Bowl nomination of his professional career. In 15 starts for Kansas City this past fall, the New Orleans native totaled 62 tackles, six interceptions (one a pick-six) and nine passes defensed.
Mathieu was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time back in 2015 following an outstanding campaign with the Cardinals. In 14 appearances for the Redbirds, the talented safety racked up 89 tackles, five picks (one for a touchdown) and a whopping 17 pass breakups. Mathieu’s sensational campaign ended prematurely, however, when he suffered a torn ACL during a late-December win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The thought of an Arizona safety duo featuring Mathieu and Budda Baker is almost too good to imagine. Unfortunately, the organization’s financial concerns back in ’18 prevented that from happening. Things have certainly worked out well for Mathieu, and Keim and the Cards must deeply regret the day that they decided to let him go.