To say Justin Bethel had a rough 2016 would be an understatement.
And now, he’s paying for it.
It was learned Wednesday that Bethel’s salary has been reduced from $4.5 million in 2017 to $2 million, with the 2018 season of his contract being voided.
Bethel, who had signed a three-year contract extension in 2015, is in essence taking a pay cut in 2017 to be a free agent following the season.
Given what transpired last season, it makes some sense that Bethel would roll the dice on posting a bounce-back 2017. He could once again be in line for a large role, with former starter Marcus Cooper signing with the Chicago Bears.
Expected to challenge for a starting cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson, he was limited over the offseason by a foot injury. Then, when he was on the field, Bethel struggled to the point where head coach Bruce Arians, when asked if the player was a work in progress at cornerback, answered that it’s “a failure in progress” due to his battling injuries and lack of practice time.
Bethel played fairly well over the season’s final two games, and finished with 26 total tackles, six passes defensed and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown. The special teams ace also contributed 13 total tackles there — 12 unassisted — while also forcing one fumble.
The 26-year-old Bethel was a sixth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2012 out of Presbyterian, and was a Pro Bowl choice for special teams in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
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