Most wanted National Football League free agent? Arizona releases DB Tyrann Mathieu

Tyrann Mathieu had some great moments in his five seasons with the Cardinals. | Ross D. Franklin  AP

Mathieu is turning 26 in a few months, and he's a fan favorite in Arizona with a unique story.

The Cardinals have released free safety/strong safety Tyrann Mathieu, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, meaning the answer to numerous Raiders' coverage woes could be just one contract away. He was a third-round pick by the Cardinals in the 2013 NFL Draft. He has 307 tackles and 11 interceptions for his career.

The team made it official with a tweet and a short news release. About $18 million of his contract was set to become guaranteed this week.

There are several reasons why this marriage likely won't take shape, however, beginning with the most obvious one: money.

Clearly, this is a financial decision for Arizona, which saw Mathieu rise as a productive member of the franchise's secondary for multiple seasons.

Mathieu finished the 2017 season with 65 tackles, six tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions, five passes defensed and one forced fumble.

The 5-foot-9, 186-pound free safety earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2015. "We all wish Tyrann nothing but continued success in his career and beyond". Mathieu said the team asked him to take a pay cut. After returning to the field in 2014, it was 2015 when the Honey Badger hit his stride.

His rookie season ended prematurely when he tore the LCL and ACL in his left knee.

Mathieu during his five seasons as a Cardinal was ubiquitous in the Phoenix community. There's a big need in the slot (and at cornerback in general) after dealing away Damarious Randall, and Morgan Burnett - who played all over the defense for former coordinator Dom Capers - is a free agent.

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