This one I’m not sure anyone saw coming. Forget the length of Daryl Washington’s suspension, which is not good for a defense that figured to miss him for a couple of games but certainly not 16. It’s at least 16, by the way. He has to be reinstated. It’s not automatic. It’s just that, with the news Washington violated the league’s substance abuse policy again (no, this has nothing to do with his assault case), I can’t help but think back to Washington’s tweet last summer after it came out that violating that same policy was going to cost him a four-game suspension to start 2013.
That was before his arrest and obviously long before this latest news, which comes with no details, including how this impacts Washington beyond the 2014 season. What this means for Washington’s future in Arizona would only be a guess right now, although coach Bruce Arians is scheduled to meet the media after Monday’s OTA. Speaking of Washington as a person, he’s obviously made some bad, bad decisions and if he doesn’t figure it out at some point he’s in danger of losing his livelihood. Just last week, Washington was sounding genuinely in the dark about his situation.
In a statement released to the media, Washington acknowledges the violation was related to marijuana. Under the league’s substance abuse policy, punishment for being in Stage 2 of the league’s system is a four-game suspension. Washington got a four-game suspension last year. It is in Stage 3 where the minimum suspension is for at least one year. According to that policy, the player has to apply to be reinstated after that year. A return is not automatic. He spends the rest of his career in Stage 3, with unannounced testing and the ability to be tested up to 10 times a month.
GM Steve Keim left no doubt where he stood: “It’s completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position.” Football-wise, the Cardinals don’t need this. The organization made the prudent decision to let Karlos Dansby go and not try and overpay him given his age. But I’d guess that was based partly on knowing Washington – even if he had been out a couple of games suspended through his assault plea – was mostly going to be around. Now Washington is not going to be around. It makes the step forward from Kevin Minter that much more important. It makes the signing of Larry Foote that much more crucial. And I’d guess sooner rather than later, the Cardinals will bring in another veteran linebacker. (Ernie Sims visited the other day.)
Washington can’t be at the facility. He won’t get his $2.9 million salary. (For a full breakdown of the suspension’s financial impact on Washington, check out this stuff from overthecap.com.) Cap relief might not come until 2015.
There is time to regroup. Arians will undoubtedly push next man up, and, again from a football perspective, this is just like losing a player with a major injury before the season begins. It happens. But given Washington’s history and cloudy future, there is obviously more that goes into it. And that makes this a difficult situation.
I know some have said cut Washington. That won’t happen. He just got his huge bonus. He doesn’t get paid while he is suspended. He will only be 28 next year, and depending on what happens over the next year (and whether Washington can get his life in order), he figures to return to the field. Of course, things can always change.
“I sincerely apologize for the effect of my actions on my teammates, coaches and other colleagues at the Cardinals,” Washington said in his statement. “I also apologize to Cardinals fans for the time I will miss. I will work diligently during this suspension and will return as a better man and football player.”
Tags: Daryl Washington, Steve Keim
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