Arizona Cardinals starting middle linebacker Daryl Washington has been in the news a lot lately. The problem is, it’s been for all the wrong reasons.
First came the announcement in April that he was be suspended for the entire first month of the new season after violating the NFL substance abuse policy. Then, the Phoenix Police arrested him for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend in a domestic dispute. It’s safe to say that Washington hasn’t had a pleasant offseason thus far.
What if none of these things ever happened? How much different would this offseason be? My guess, not much at all.
There hasn’t been any team disciplinary action taken on Washington as of yet because of the assault charges, and I don’t think there will be. These are his first couple of mistakes, and he will learn from them. There’s no room for petty arguments with ex-girlfriends when you’re a professional athlete being paid millions and being constantly scrutinized by every media outlet in the U.S.. If things like that happen recurrently, they can jeopardize a career rather quickly.
The Cards signed their former starting middle linebacker, Karlos Dansby to a one year deal, possibly just as a stop-gap for the four game suspension that Washington received. Dansby will likely shift to the other middle linebacker spot when Washington is reinstated and basically be used this season as a mentor for the new linebackers Kevin Minter and Jasper Brinkley.
Washington is coming off a stellar year with 134 combined tackles, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles. So, he will be playing.
Coincidence here, Dansby had the exact number of total tackles, strange indeed, but definitely a positive sign that he will be the perfect guy to step straight in to Washington’s role at the beginning of the year.
The Washington drama hasn’t done much to hurt the Cards. The only thing really was an unexpected signing of Karlos Dansby to help cover for him, and who knows, that might have already been in the plan anyway to have two veterans to start in the MLB positions.
I can’t say that the “incidents” haven’t been a distraction, both for the organization and for fans, but I can say that the Cardinals have handled it quite well and Washington has too. There isn’t much that has happened to this point that would or wouldn’t have if he didn’t get into his trouble. The most important thing is that he’s learned his lesson and will have his act together by the time he’s reinstated. Then he can get back to what really matters, dominating opposing offenses.