In one of the more surprising moves of the NFL’s new year, which kicked off on Wednesday, was the Arizona Cardinals decision to cut talented safety, Tyrann Mathieu.
It was a move motivated by money. Mathieu was guaranteed $18.5 million when the new year began at 4 p.m. ET. By cutting him, the Cardinals saved $5 million in cap space.
The 25-year-old became one of the more popular players in Arizona, going to one Pro Bowl during his five seasons with the Cardinals. But injuries have been an issue as he appeared in all 16 games of a season just once, which came in 2017.
In five years, the versatile, athletic safety has racked up 11 interceptions, 305 total tackles and 41 passes defended as he’ll enter a market where he bound to receive plenty of interest.
Don’t be surprised if the Giants get in touch with Mathieu’s camp.
New defensive coordinator James Bettcher held the same position with the Cardinals from 2015-2017 where he helped the “Honey Badger” put together his finest season in the NFL.
During that All-Pro 2015 campaign, Mathieu picked off five passes with 17 passes defended, a forced fumble and 89 total tackles in 14 games.
The Giants are in need of a defensive leader after cutting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the veteran cornerback who refused to take a pay cut while the team attempted to move him from cornerback to safety.
Of New York’s core of safeties, which consists of Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Andrew Adams and Ryan Murphy, only Thompson is a free safety and struggled at times during his first full season.
He was especially put under the microscope when Collins was hampered by a high ankle sprain throughout the year.
The Giants had the second-worst pass defense in the league, allowing 4,038 yards and a league-worst 32 touchdowns through the air.
Bringing on a fiery, dynamic competitor like Mathieu could be just the shot in the arm the secondary needs.