New Arizona coach Steve Wilks is a product of the Carolina system, which doesn't place a high monetary value on defensive backs. While Mathieu struggled to make plays early last season, he showed signs of returning to 2015 All-Pro form down the stretch.
Within minutes of his release, two NFL coaches had already reached out to NFL Network's Steve Wyche, expressing hope that their teams would pursue the safety-cornerback hybrid.
Examining potential landing spots:
2. New York Jets: Similar to the Giants, this fit is about connections. Prior to Bettcher's ascension, Jets coach Todd Bowles was Mathieu's defensive boss in Arizona. While Bowles is set at safety with the promising second-year tandem of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, he could sell Mathieu on the idea of a hybrid role that combines nickel coverage with timely blitzes.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: When the Bucs hired Brenston Buckner as defensive line coach last month, Mathieu made it clear that he views the former Cardinals assistant as a future coordinator. Buckner isn't Mathieu's only tie to Tampa. General manager Jason Licht was Arizona's VP of player personnel when Mathieu was drafted in 2013.
5. New Orleans Saints:Saints wideout Michael Thomas has been openly recruiting Mathieu, a former LSU star and proud son of New Orleans. Unless the Honey Badger is willing to consider a hometown discount, though, the Saints might be reluctant to devote more spending to a secondary that has already added safety Kurt Coleman and cornerback Patrick Robinson.
6. Green Bay Packers: New general manager Brain Gutekunst is bringing a more aggressive approach to free agency, opening the pipeline to expensive veterans. With Damarious Randall traded to Cleveland and Morgan Burnett reaching the open market, coordinator Mike Pettine could use a multi-dimension weapon of Mathieu's caliber to headline an overhauled secondary.