As is the case every offseason, NFL players are being slapped with repercussions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Just a couple of weeks ago, Indianapolis Colts linebacker and 2013 sack-leader Robert Mathis learned that he’ll miss the first four games of the season. Mathis tested positive for Clomid, a male fertility drug that’s popular for “post-cycle therapy” among steroid users. However, the Pro Bowler contends that he was merely using the drug until his wife got pregnant.
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington is probably envious of Mathis because he’ll miss the entire 2014 NFL season after testing positive for marijuana. Washington received a four-game suspension last year when he violated the league’s substance abuse policy for a third time. Now, after being caught a fourth time with pot, he’ll have to miss every game of the 2014 season, forfeit his $2.9 million base salary and a $100,000 workout bonus. As if this isn’t enough, the Cardinals will also look to recoup $12.5 million in roster and signing bonuses that they paid Washington over the past two seasons.
There’s not much that the starting linebacker can say after being caught with drugs yet again. His suspension leaves a big hole at right-inside linebacker, where he racked up 58 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions, despite only playing in 12 games. Washington was instrumental in Arizona’s 10-win revival last season, especially in huge wins over Seattle (9 Tack, 1 Sack), Atlanta (6 Tack, 1 INT) and Carolina (9 Tack, 2 Sacks, 1 INT).
After learning that he won’t be seeing the gridiron this season, Washington released the following statement that includes an apology and plans to change his substance abuse habits:
I recently learned that I had violations of the NFL Substances of Abuse policy related to marijuana. The Policy is very strict, and I have 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. I will work extremely hard to stay in top football shape, and will work equally as hard to ensure that my life off of the field meets the high level of maturity and responsibility to which I am committed. I sincerely apologize for the effect of my actions and my teammates, coaches and other colleagues at the Cardinals. 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.
GM Steve Reim’s Response
If Washington was hoping that his statement would win back support in the Arizona Cardinals organization, it certainly didn’t work on GM Steve Reim. As you can tell from the first line of his statement, he’s not too happy with the linebacker. Here’s a look at Reim’s comments to the media:
It’s completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position. 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.
As it pertains to our team, our approach is the same as it’s always been: next man up. We talk a lot about how critical depth is to a team because situations always arise where you lose players, whether by injury or other circumstances such as this one. One player’s absence is another’s opportunity. That approach has served us well in the past and we will rely on it now.
Who will take Washington’s Place?
If you’re looking forward to 2014 Arizona Cardinals betting – whether it be on futures, point spreads or live wagering – you might be interested to know who’ll take over at RILB. Washington’s production may not be completely irreplaceable since he didn’t play up to the same All-Pro level that he set in 2012 – when he racked up 138 tackles, 9 sacks and an interception. However, Washington was still an integral part of last year’s defense, which ranked seventh statistically in the NFL.
2013 second-round pick Kevin Minter is definitely a candidate to replace Washington. Minter had a very quiet rookie season because he was buried on the depth chart by veterans like Karlos Dansby and Washington. The former LSU star mainly played special teams, though he’ll be looking to have a much larger role in his second year. This is especially the case when you consider that Dansby was signed by Cleveland this offseason.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers veteran Larry Foote is another guy who will look to replace Washington’s production. Foote had a big season in 2012 after tallying 113 combined tackles, however, injuries held him back last year.
But overall, the cupboard looks a little bare at linebacker for Arizona right now. And they’ll be hard-pressed to replace Washington’s blitzing speed, pass defense and ball-hawking skills. That said, the Cardinals’ defense will be a question mark heading into the 2014 NFL season.