Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Friday, May 30, 2014
Cards need to cut ties with Washington

By Josh Weinfuss


There's really one way to say it:  It's time.

It's time for the Arizona Cardinals to officially part ways with Pro Bowl linebacker Daryl Washington.

It's time to rid the franchise of a young man who'd rather enjoy being high than the adrenaline of winning a game.

It's time to start rebuilding an inside linebacker corps with more mentally mature talent.

Washington admitted in a statement released by his agent that the yearlong suspension handed down Friday was a result of marijuana use. It shows where his priorities are, and they're definitely not in line with those of an elite player.

How does the saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

He fooled Cardinals president Michael Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim twice. There shouldn't be an opportunity for a third strike. Last April, after being suspended for the first four games of 2013, Washington tweeted: "I promise to work even harder and to not let you guys down anymore." The Cardinals are dealing with a young man who either doesn't know how to keep his word or just didn't mean what he was saying.

In his statement Friday, Washington said he's "chosen to take responsibility."

"I am committed to making changes in my life that will allow me to return to the NFL as soon as possible," Washington said. "I will work extremely hard to stay in top football shape, and will work equally as hard to ensure that my life off the field meets the high level of maturity and responsibility to which I am committed. I sincerely apologize for the effect of my actions on my teammates, coaches and other colleagues at the Cardinals."

Why should anyone -- especially the Cardinals -- believe him?

Washington's word led Arizona to believe he'd be on the field in 2014, so they limited their offer to another star inside linebacker, Karlos Dansby, which ultimately led to his departure to Cleveland. Arizona could've taken the $10 million they gave to Washington and handed it to Dansby. But they didn't because Washington was supposed to be the future.

After what transpired over the last 15 months, Washington's words don't hold any weight. He was suspended four games last season after violating Stage 2 of the league's substance abuse policy for a second time. That put him in Stage 3 for life. All it took was one positive drug test or a non-compliance, meaning he missed a test, for Washington to get a yearlong suspension.

The positive test cost the Cardinals a lot of money.

In March, Arizona made the decision, which at the time seemed wise, to exercise Washington's $10 million roster bonus, which was divided into two $5 million payments, one which was paid and the other scheduled for 2015. He's dynamic and productive on the field with a rare blend of speed and size.

The Cardinals can try to recoup part of the first $5 million and try to avoid paying the second $5 million, but there's a legal jungle they'll have to navigate through.

Washington is causing too much trouble and it's simply not worth it.

"It's completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position," Keim said in a statement Friday. "We all know what the consequences are and will deal with them. From a personal standpoint, our hope is that this suspension will give Daryl the opportunity to accept the necessary help and guidance to get his life back on track, and we will certainly support him however we can."

Washington needs to understand the magnitude of his actions, but if he didn't last season, why would anyone expect him to change now? All he has to do is look across the locker room to see an example of somebody who faced a similar consequence but was able to straighten out his life. Tyrann Mathieu was suspended from the LSU football team for an entire season in 2012 because of marijuana, but he stopped using, righted his ship and has been flourishing in the NFL.

Washington is a few years older and was an established star in the NFL, but he couldn't find the discipline to put down the weed. He needs guidance. He needs help. He needs attention. But none of that should come from the Arizona Cardinals. They've invested enough time, money and energy into Washington, and what's their return?

Nothing in 2014.