Cardinals cornerback/ace special teamer Justin Bethel has agreed to reduce his 2017 base salary from $4.5MM to $2MM, while Arizona has also deleted the 2018 year of his contract, tweets cap guru Ian Whetstone. Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com confirms (Twitter link) the Cardinals’ cap space has increased from $18.5MM to $21MM to account for the change.
Bethel, 26, has been a key special teams cog during his five-year run in Arizona, and he’s never played on fewer than two-thirds of the club’s special teams snaps. For his efforts, Bethel has earned three Pro Bowl nods and two All Pro berths. Bethel’s work on defense has been less spectacular, however, as he’s struggled through seven career starts opposite Patrick Peterson.
Near the end of the 2016 campaign, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians notably referred to Bethel’s play as a “failure in progress.” Pro Football Focus didn’t view Bethel in such a negative light, however, handing him a 71.0 grade on 270 defensive snaps.
Bethel, a former sixth-round pick, inked a three-year, $15MM extension that included $9MM in guarantees at the tail end of the 2015 season. He won’t make it all the way through that deal, however, given that his 2018 year has now been deleted. That may have been a concession from the Cardinals, allowing Bethel to hit free agency a year earlier in exchange for him accepting a paycut. Bethel will now count for just $2.75MM on Arizona’s 2017 salary cap.
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