Nov. 25, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: St. Louis Rams quarterback (8) Sam Bradford is sacked by Arizona Cardinals linebacker (58) Daryl Washington in the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals: Which Cardinal Will Struggle The Most In 2013?

At the end of last season, Daryl Washington was a captain of the Cardinals defense and the first Cardinal linebacker going to the Pro Bowl since 1994. Washington had just signed a contract extension, and his future seemed brighter than almost anyone else on the roster with a perceived squeaky clean reputation. Now, just a few short months later, Washington is facing a four game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, facing two aggravated assault charges against the mother of his infant child, and running on the second-team defense during Cardinals OTAs.

It is not a bold prediction to say Daryl Washington will struggle in 2013, but well, this Cardinal will indeed take the biggest step back in 2013 on the field and off. The four-game suspension was a surprise to almost everyone in the media and to every fan I have spoken too including myself. However, the domestic violence charges, to me, could be the first nail in the coffin with Washington as an Arizona Cardinal.

It is impossible for me to believe that Washington will return to the field in 2013 with his head on straight. How many more games will he miss once commissioner Roger Goodell chimes in under the league’s player conduct policy? Washington may be cleared of charges, but that does not mean he will not be suspended additionally. Furthermore, if he pleas it down in any way I think Goodell will definitely bring down the hammer.

The NFL cares a great deal about its reputation, especially when it comes to domestic violence against women. It is not tolerated, and Goodell showed it when Ben Roethlisberger, who was never charged, still got suspended after his assault accusations came to light. There is precedent, and I wonder if Washington’s drug history may convince Goodell to lay down an additional suspension, maybe two more games in my opinion.

What is the defense going to be like when Daryl Washington returns? I think they could be playing outstanding with Karlos Dansby filling the void. Of course, Washington will get his chance on the field when he returns, and coach Bruce Arians has experience in dealing with this; he was Roethlisberger’s offensive coordinator at the time of his issues.

My hope is Washington stays clear of any additional trouble, handles his assault charges to the best of his ability and returns to the field in early to mid-October ready to move forward. He will have just 10-12 games to convince the Cardinals brass that he has changed, and he has 10 million reasons to make that change.

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