Cardinals release veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu

The offseason overhaul in the desert continues.

The Arizona Cardinals' efforts to restructure Tyrann Mathieu's contract didn't work out, and the team released the safety.

"I've never made a secret that Tyrann has always had a special place in my heart and always will," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said in a statement. "While we all understand this a part of the business, that certainly doesn't make it any easier. We all wish Tyrann nothing but continued success in his career and beyond."

The Cardinals had until today to pick up an option in Mathieu's contract that guaranteed him $19 million over the next two seasons. He played just two seasons of the five-year, $62.5 million contract he signed in 2016. Mathieu was set to count $14.1 million against the Cards' salary cap in 2017. Arizona saves $4.8 million by releasing him.

Mathieu told NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal last week that the Cardinals asked him to take a pay cut. The Honey Badger wasn't keen on that idea.

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

The efforts over the past few days to rework the deal to make it more palatable for the team and the one-time All-Pro didn't come to fruition leading to the parting of ways.

Jettisoning Mathieu was more about his scheme fit in new coach Steve Wilks' defense than the safety's play. The 25-year-old began to regain his pre-injury form down the stretch last season. When healthy, Honey Badger can be a menacing chess piece in the right defense.

Mathieu's release adds a big fish to a shirking free-agent pond. The safety will land inside the top five in Around The NFL's Top 101 Free Agents list of 2018.

After overcoming two separate ACL tears, Mathieu should find plenty of suitors in an NFL landscape still flush with cap space. One team to keep an eye on is the New York Giants, where his former defensive coordinator James Bettcher now leads Big Blue's D.

With all the money being thrown around as we head into the new league year, it's not out of the question Honey Badger could earn an even larger payday on the open market.

"My agent thinks so too," Mathieu told Rosenthal last week.