The dynamic safety spoke to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer after the release, and insists when he picks his next team it won't be about the dollars.
"It's not all about money for me," said Mathieu, ranked No. 5 in NFL.com's Top 101 Free Agents of 2018. "I want to go somewhere where I can be completely immersed in football, and it's not too much about anything but winning. I want to be a part of winning culture, where you feel that all the time. That's all I want."
That type of talk screams for us to link Mathieu to the New York Giants, who might be shorter on cash than some, but is where the safety's former defensive coordinator James Bettcher resides. Another former Cards DC, Todd Bowles, also coaches in New York with the Jets.
Talking about taking less money and actually seeing it happen for a top free agent in the prime of his career happens rarely -- if ever.
Per Breer, the 25-year-old Mathieu said the Cardinals wanted to take $5 million off the $11 million he was due in 2018. The Honey Badger also rejected a $3 million shave, leading to his release. Those rejections don't come unless a player's agent thinks he can recoup most, if not all, the cash on the open market.
While the fit will be important for Mathieu, when the bidding gets started for a multifaceted chess piece, who not long ago was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, expect the numbers to soar.