Arizona Cardinals sign Dennis Gardeck to a one-year contract
Up until last season, outside linebacker Dennis Gardeck was a rarely-used component of the Arizona Cardinals defense. The former undrafted free agent had built a reputation as a special teams demon, and his expertise in that area even earned Gardeck a Pro Bowl alternate nomination in 2019. Last fall, the 6’2, 214 pounder showed off another element of his game that pleasantly surprised both the Cardinals and their fans.
In 14 appearances last fall, Gardeck recorded an eye-popping seven quarterback sacks for the Arizona defensive unit. What made that total even more impressive was the fact that the University of Sioux Falls product required just 94 snaps as an edge-rusher to register that number. Gardeck has now parlayed that outstanding performance into a million-dollar contract.
On Thursday, Gardeck signed the restricted free agent tender that the Cards front office offered the defender back in March. The 26-year old, who was tendered at a second-round level, will earn $3.384 million in 2021. That’s a significant raise from the $750,000 that Gardeck was paid in 2020.
Gardeck, who came to the NFL back in 2018, is currently recovering from the season-ending injury he suffered in week 15 of last year’s campaign. Early on in Arizona’s 33-26 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Gardeck’s year came to an end thanks to a torn ACL. The Illinois native would be sidelined for the season’s final two contests following the mishap.
As a first-year pro for the Cardinals back in ’18, Gardeck registered eight special teams tackles in 16 appearances for the squad. He also led all of the league’s rookies with 388 special teams snaps.
A year later, in ’19, Gardeck totaled 10 special teams stops and a fumble recovery in 14 games for the Cards. The fiery wedge-buster was also named the captain of the group led by assistant head coach Jeff Rodgers for the first time in his NFL career.
In related news, another Arizona linebacker also signed his free agent tender with the club on Thursday. Kylie Fitts, a sixth-round draft selection of the Chicago Bears back in ’18, flocked to the desert in September of ’19. The 26-year old, an exclusive-rights free agent, will collect $920,000 from the Redbirds in ’21.