Tyrann Mathieu has been an integral piece in Arizona for the past five years, both on and off the football field.
His scintillating playmaking ability and infectious love for the game have made him unmissable at times, and his generosity and humble nature whilst contributing in the community have won him many an admirer.
The Honey Badger was released on Wednesday, largely due to affordability factors and a lack of scheme fit in Steve Wilks' defense. The former All Pro safety immediately becomes one of the most coveted free agents available, and will likely have a flurry of teams to choose from.
Despite the disappointment of being cut, and leaving his teammates with whom he has a tight relationship as a leader in the locker room, Mathieu handled the situation with as much grace as a man as he has dynamism as a player.
The 25-year-old would've represented a $14.1million cap hit for the Cards in 2018, and after an agreement on a pay-cut couldn't be reached, he took to Twitter to express his gratitude to the team that took a chance on him as a third round pick in 2013.
It's quite clear that the respect and love was mutual, as the organisation, players, media members and fans all took to social media to thank the Honey Badger for five memorable years.
GM Steve Keim, who pulled the trigger on drafting Mathieu out of LSU, made his feelings evident:
Mathieu's mentor and fellow secondary star, Patrick Peterson also made sure his friend knew he had his back:
The love from teammates isn't that unusual, but what separated Mathieu's departure from many we see in pro sports, was the outpouring of compliments from media members regarding his attitude and personality:
Mathieu even took the time to reply to as many people as he could, affirming the mutual respect between himself and the wider community in Arizona.
Not only is he a special player, he truly seems to be a special person that rubs off in a positive way on everyone he meets. And, it seems as though he intends to continue to be an active member of the community, despite having to play his football elsewhere...
Sure, his injuries have left him a shadow of his old self in recent times, but it wasn't so long ago Honey Badger was in the running for DPOY honours and a full offseason could well see him back to that kind of form in the right setup.
He can certainly still make plays that virtually nobody can match in the NFL, and the stats show that he is one of the best in the game.
Mathieu will be hotly pursued by numerous teams, and whoever manages to snag him will be getting an all round great human being. His response to being cut shows true professionalism and gives one a key insight into the man.
One can't help but be excited to see how a fresh challenge invigorates him on the field. His electrifying ability as a ball hawk and open field tackler will be a blessing to one lucky team in 2018.
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