Former Arizona Cardinals linebacker had a unique NFL career

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Arizona Cardinals
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Arizona Cardinals /

Former NFL linebacker Karlos Dansby had not one, not two, but three fantastic stints with the Arizona Cardinals organization.

Back in 2004, the Arizona Cardinals front office brought in one of the finest draft classes in the history of the organization.

Future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was the cream of the crop, with solid choices like defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and defensive end Antonio Smith being selected in the rounds that followed.

There was also a defender taken with the 33rd-overall pick, however, who would go on to have three incredibly productive stints with the Cardinals franchise.

Karlos Dansby, a linebacker out of Auburn University, was voted First-Team All-American after an outstanding campaign for the Tigers in 2003. There were also two All-SEC nominations for Arizona’s second-round selection, following both the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

An inside linebacker’s unique alliance with the Arizona Cardinals

Upon joining the Cards defensive unit in 2004, the explosive Dansby made an immediate impact with his new squad. In 15 appearances (11 starts), the 22-year-old racked up 61 tackles, five sacks, and five passes defensed for a team that was thrilled beyond belief to have him.

Unfortunately, free agency dropped Dansby into the ecstatic lap of the Miami Dolphins in 2009. The Alabama native had posted five more outstanding campaigns for “Big Red” following his successful rookie year, but the Cardinals were flat-out outbid for his services by a determined group of Dolphins executives.

The Cardinals were forced to wave bye-bye to one of their favorite sons, but it would not be the last time that the club would cross paths with the talented veteran.

Dansby returned to the desert in 2013, intrigued by the opportunity to perform in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ attacking unit. The results were downright spectacular.

In 16 starts, Dansby would register a whopping 122 tackles, with 6.5 quarterback sacks to boot. Even more impressive was the linebacker’s coverage skills. Dansby was credited with an eye-popping 19 passes defensed, an awe-inspiring number for a non-defensive back.

Sadly, Arizona once again lost Dansby to free agency the following offseason. This time, it was the Cleveland Browns who stole him away. Dansby responded well, recording 93, 108, and 114 tackles during his three seasons with the Browns.

Ironically, Dansby would return for a third and final stint with the Cards in 2017. In 16 contests (15 starts), the 35-year-old would total 95 tackles, four pass breakups, and an interception for the club that drafted him 13 years earlier.

Dansby never suited up again following the 2017 season. His final game came on New Year’s Eve of that year when he tallied 6 tackles during a 26-24 Arizona victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

The fact that Dansby was never voted to a Pro Bowl is mind-boggling. In fact, it was an outright disgrace.

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Nevertheless, it was a pleasure as a football fan to witness the linebacker’s interesting and productive career. Not one, not two but all three times that Dansby donned a Cardinals uniform.

(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)