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Cards sign linebacker Ernie Sims

A day after coach Bruce Arians said it wasn't imperative for the Cardinals to sign another linebacker in the wake of Daryl Washington's suspension, the team added a veteran to compete for his starting job, as Arizona signed linebacker Ernie Sims to a one-year contract on Tuesday.

Terms were not announced.

Sims, 29, has a history of replacing starting linebackers. He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys about midway through the 2012 season to replace linebacker Sean Lee and then filled in for Lee again last season.

In Arizona, Sims will have a chance to be a full-season replacement for Washington, who was suspended for at least a year on Friday for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy and program.

An eight-year veteran, Sims was a first-round pick by the Detroit Lions in 2006 out of Florida State. He spent four seasons in Detroit, starting 56 of 59 games. His career then led him to Philadelphia for a season and then to Indianapolis for another before he started 12 of 22 games for the Cowboys. In 12 games last season, Sims had 42 tackles and a forced fumble.

Sims enters a competition at inside linebacker alongside veterans Larry Foote and Lorenzo Alexander. As of now, those three are the leading candidates to replace Washington, but Arians hinted the position may be filled by committee.

Arians began discussing the possibility of adding another inside linebacker on Thursday, a day before Washington's suspension was announced and the same day Sims visited the Cardinals. On Monday, Arians said the Cardinals were short at inside linebacker heading into training camp. According to the team's roster, Sims is the Cardinals' eighth inside linebacker.

But Sims won't be given the starting job. Arians said Monday any free agent added to the roster would have to earn his spot.

Sims told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday that he left Arizona without a deal because the Cards "weren't quite ready to do anything yet" but felt "pretty optimistic" after meeting with coaches because he "felt it would be a good fit."

Coming in with just two OTAs and three veteran minicamp practices left, Sims said on the radio he'll be in "crunch-time study mode" to catch up.

"I try to get in the playbook and learn the system as quickly as possible," Sims said. "At the end of the day just lean on my instincts to take over."