The Arizona Cardinals didn't have the cap space to retain safety Tony Jefferson, but with a void in the defensive backfield, the team was able to find Jefferson's replacement ahead of the start of free agency.
According to a report from Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic, the Cardinals have reached an agreement with former San Francisco 49ers' safety Antoine Bethea for a three-year deal.
The 49ers released Bethea Wednesday and by Thursday morning, Somers reported that the Cardinals had agreed to terms with the veteran safety preparing to enter his 12th season in the NFL.
Bethea spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, including the 2012 season when Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians served as the team's offensive coordinator and then became its interim head coach.
Bethea has recorded over 1,000 tackles in his career and has 19 interceptions with 62 passes defended in 11 NFL seasons.
After spending the last three years in San Francisco, it's likely the 32-year-old Bethea will now finish his career in Arizona given the fact he'll be 35 by the time his contract expires after the 2019 season.
The former sixth round draft pick out of Howard joins a defensive backfield with two prominent safeties already in the fold, Tyrann Mathieu and Tyvon Branch, and gives the Cardinals flexibility in free agency. The team has reportedly expressed interest in keeping safety D.J. Swearinger in 2017, but Swearinger is likely to draw interest around the free agent market in the coming days.
With Mathieu likely to play nickel corner on the majority of Arizona's defensive plays, the Cardinals now have Bethea and Branch penciled into the back end of the team's defense moving forward.