New England Patriots

Tyrann Mathieu is officially a free agent after the Arizona Cardinals released him on Wednesday. And apparently, he’s not as interested in money as he is in a chance to win.

The free-agent safety spoke to Albert Breer of The MMQB in detail about the Cardinals’ decision to cut him. Eventually the conversation steered toward what he wants out of his next team. It certainly sounds like the Patriots would fit this description.

“It’s not all about money for me,” said Mathieu. “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.”

Though it hasn’t felt great around the Super Bowl runner-up Patriots this offseason, the team has hardly lost its “winning culture.” Bill Belichick’s approach certainly immerses players in football, and seeks people who crave that immersion. And you could arguably interpret Mathieu’s comments as “Bill … give me a call.”

Bill Belichick reacts after the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick reacts after the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Belichick loved Mathieu as a player – at least once upon a time, he did. He may feel differently now that the 25-year-old Mathieu hasn’t quite looked like the same player in the past two seasons since tearing his ACL in 2015. He also dealt with a shoulder injury in 2016, but played all 16 games in 2017. The Cardinals tried to work out a restructured contract with the safety, who signed a five-year, $62.5 million extension in 2016, but ultimately decided to move on and make him a free agent.

Additionally, the Patriots don’t really need a safety right now. Mathieu could play some nickel corner or the slot for Belichick, but he’s not exactly a perfect fit for what the Pats need on defense. It would be a case of adding a potentially premium talent on defense, regardless of position. Mathieu may well be good enough that his talent would trump the Patriots’ needs. Belichick would likely find multiple ways to use him and put him in positions to succeed. You know he’d have him focused entirely on football, since that’s what both sides would want.

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A fully healthy and engaged “Honey Badger” would have a chance to be an outstanding addition to a defense in need of playmakers. He could also simply be a step back from what he was when he earned First Team All-Pro honors in 2015. And it’s not like the Patriots are the only team that wins, or could keep Mathieu’s focus on the field. Maybe the Eagles come calling.

But among the teams that can offer what Mathieu wants, the Pats are on that list.

— By Matt Dolloff,

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at