Tyrann Mathieu, likely the only honey badger in Arizona not living in captivity, is about to migrate.

The Cardinals released the popular safety on Wednesday after the two sides failed to reach agreement on a restructured contract.

That’s a pleasant euphemism for a pay cut, which Mathieu declined to accept. Mathieu, now a free agent, likely won’t have trouble finding employment quickly.

Mathieu was due to have $18.75 million of his contract guaranteed if he was on the roster at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, the start of the 2018 NFL season.

By releasing Mathieu, the Cardinals free $4.8 million in cap space, but Mathieu will account for $9.3 million under the salary cap. The Cardinals decided to take the cap hit all in one year, rather than designate Mathieu as a June 1 release. That would have spread the cost over two years, but Mathieu would have stayed on the books until June 1.

“I’ve never made a secret that Tyrann has always had a special place in my heart and always will,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said in a release. “While we all understand this a part of the business, that certainly doesn’t make it any easier. We all wish Tyrann nothing but continued success in his career and beyond.”

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Mathieu, a third-round pick in 2013, is among the more popular players in team history. The Cardinals took a risk by drafting him because Mathieu had been kicked off the team at Louisiana State after testing positive several times for marijuana.

But Keim and former coach Bruce Arians believed in Mathieu, who changed his life and became a dynamic force on the field.

Mathieu’s time in Arizona, however, was not without challenges. He suffered a torn left ACL late in his rookie year, and a torn right one in December 2015.

Mathieu was sensational in 2015 and was a contender for defensive player of the year before the injury.

The Cardinals signed him to a contract extension in the summer of 2016, even though Mathieu had not yet returned from the second ACL injury.

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That deal paid Mathieu $21.25 million guaranteed, but was designed to be evaluated in 2018. If Mathieu had returned to the way he played in 2015, the Cardinals likely would not have asked him to take a pay cut.

It’s unknown exactly what the Cardinals offered, but an NFL source said the team didn’t ask Mathieu for a drastic pay cut.

On Tuesday, the two sides were optimistic a deal could be reached, but that had disappeared by Wednesday morning.

Mathieu played in all 16 games last season for the first time in his career and showed improvement over the latter half of the year. He played more snaps in 2017 than any other NFL player.

During last season, Mathieu admitted he got off to a slow start, and that his 2015 performance was both a blessing and a curse.

“Once you set a standard in this league, if you play under it, it’s not good enough,” Mathieu said in November. “Obviously, there was a three-,four-game stretch where I can look in the mirror and say, ‘What the hell was I doing?’”

Mathieu improved over the second half of the season, and the Cardinals envisioned a role for him under new coach Steve Wilks, albeit at a reduced salary.

Mathieu declined and now gets to find out what a honey badger is worth on the open market.

In other news regarding free agency, the Cardinals are going to re-sign linebacker Josh Bynes to a three-year deal, according to NFL Network.

Bynes joined the Cardinals last year and played well in a backup role.

Receiver John Brown agreed to terms with the Ravens, the team announced.

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