The Arizona Cardinals restructured the contract of Justin Bethel, for reported on NFLPA but tweeted by Ian Whetstone.
Looks like Arizona CB Justin Bethel took a straight reduction in pay from $4.5M to $2M this year, and had his 2018 contract year deleted.— Ian Whetstone (@IanWhetstone) March 15, 2017
Later confirmed by Kent Somers
Confirm @IanWhetstone Bethel took $2.5 million pay cut. in exchange, no longer under contract for ’18, can be UFA— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) March 15, 2017
The Arizona Cardinals originally signed Justin Bethel to a three-year extension worth $15M in 2015, with intentions of him being the starting cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson. Instead he started the 2016 season with a foot injury that kept him out of training camp. He allowed big plays in the preseason, leading into the regular season, that eventually propelled Marcus Cooper and rookie Brandon Williams up the depth chart. Although he was labeled as a “failure in progress” by Bruce Arians this past season, he is still a three-time Pro Bowl special teams player and he was able to end the 2016 on a high note.
With Bethel taking a pay cut of $2.5M, which resulted to $1.75M cap savings, it seems that GM Steve Keim is making his contract like a one-year prove it deal. The revised contract will allow Bethel to test the market after this upcoming season. With him finally healthy for the first time in a long time, he has to prove that can be more than just a special teams player.
Marcus Cooper was a starter but downgraded to special teams by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was traded to the Cardinals this past season and was named the full time starter. He ended the season with four interception and was named a Pro Bowl alternate. He recently signed a multi-year deal with the Chicago Bears. If he can do it, why not Justin Bethel?