Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) reacts to a tackle he made against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., December 10, 2017.(Photo: Michael Chow/azcentral sports)
The Cardinals asked safety Tyrann Mathieu to take a pay cut on Thursday, Mathieu said during a visit to the NFL Network.
The news, reported by NFL.com, was expected. If Mathieu is on the Cardinals roster on Wednesday, the first day of the league year, $18.75 million of his contract becomes guaranteed.
Mathieu said he is open to restructuring the contract, but that’s not necessarily the same as being open to a pay cut.
“But taking money out of my pocket, I don't like how that feels,” he said, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.
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It’s unknown how deep of a pay cut the Cardinals are seeking. Under his current deal, Mathieu has a cap number of $14.1 million in 2018, fourth-highest on the team. His base salary is $4.1 million, with the remaining $9 million a result of signing bonus and a roster bonus according to overthecap.com.
Typically, if players decline to take pay cuts, they are released.
The Cardinals could save $4.8 million or $11 million under this year’s cap by releasing Mathieu. The difference is attributable to the team’s ability to designate Mathieu a June 1 release. By choosing that option, the Cardinals could spread Mathieu’s “dead” money over two years instead of one.
In August of 2016, Mathieu signed a five-year extension that included $21.25 million in guarantees.
Mathieu was coming off his second major knee injury but had played at an elite level in 2015 prior to the injury.
He hasn’t returned to that level, but he did play in all 16 games last year for the first time in his career.
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