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NFL Free Agency: Tyrann Mathieu on his priorities for picking his next team

Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals

Safety Tyrann Mathieu is now a free agent following the Arizona Cardinals’ decision to release him after he declined a pay cut. However, Mathieu maintains that money takes a backseat to winning in terms of his priorities in deciding which team to play for next.

“It’s not all about money for me,” Mathieu said to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. “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.”

Mathieu, who is more affectionately known as the “Honey Badger,” spent five years with the Cardinals, playing 66 games with 11 interceptions, four forced fumbles, and 4.0 sacks.

While Mathieu is saying all the right things about caring more about winning than money, that should be taken with a grain of salt. At 25 years old, these are the prime years in Mathieu’s career where he should be maximizing his earning potential.

Breer notes that Mathieu declined to take $3 million off the $11 million he was owed by the Cardinals next season, so any team willing to take him on might have to pay a minimum of $9 million.

It remains to be seen if any team that fits Mathieu’s description can dole out the type of cash he’s looking for. When healthy, Mathieu is the sort of game-changing defensive force that could be worth that money. But if no contenders come calling, his dedication to winning above all else will be significantly tested.