When Karlos Dansby left the Arizona Cardinals in March of 2010, he didn't actually leave the Arizona Cardinals.
Sure, he signed a five-year, $43 million with the Miami Dolphins, and yes, that's where he would productively spend the next three years of his career.
However, the linebacker whom the team originally selected in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft always thought about eventually returning to the place where he had amassed 623 tackles, 25.5 sacks and 10 interceptions, 27 passes defensed, 13 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries.
"It was always in the back of my mind when I left," Dansby told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Friday. "Make sure I left on good terms, didn't burn any bridges because I knew, at the end of the day, when I first came into the game all I wanted to do was be a legend."
Dansby, who signed a one-year deal to return to the Cardinals Friday, said that is what he told then-Cardinals coach Dennis Green before he was drafted out of Auburn. He wanted to get a yellow jacket (NFL Hall of Fame) and be a legend.
"That's what I want to do, and everything that comes under that would get accomplished if I could play at a high level, play at this level, and do it the right way," he said. "So it was always in the back of my mind."
That may be, but it's unlikely Dansby planned on returning to the desert so soon. At 31 he's not old by any stretch, yet the Dolphins decided it would be best to cut him rather than continue paying a large salary. This, after Dansby was in on a career-high 134 tackles last season.
It worked out, though, as Dansby was available and the Cardinals had a need. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the team had been talking about adding Dansby for over a month.
"Adding him back to our mix because of the type of player he is, the type of person he is, the type of leader he is," the coach said. "We're extremely excited he's back being a Cardinal."
The coach added the move made his day.
It also makes the roster look much, much better. Already somewhat thin at linebacker, the team is dealing with the uncertainty surrounding Daryl Washington's situation. The Pro Bowler is already going to miss the first four games of the regular season due to a league suspension, and may miss more time depending on the results of a pending domestic abuse case.
Enter Dansby, and all of a sudden things don't seem so bad.
The linebacker said he saw former (and now again) teammate Darnell Dockett in Miami, and the two talked about how great it would be to get back together and try to make another postseason run.
"It just stuck with me," he said of the conversation.
That may be why Dansby turned down overtures from the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons, among others. He said those options "didn't feel right," but when Cardinals GM Steve Keim came calling it all started to fall into place.
"I was like 'let's make something happen,'" he said.