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Arizona Cardinals right to let Darnell Dockett walk to San Francisco

It’s very rare in today’s NFL that a star player begins and ends his career with one team.

Yet, the news that Darnell Dockett, who had spent his entire career with the Arizona Cardinals, signed a two-year deal with the rival San Francisco 49ers still hurts a little bit.

Dockett, after all, was quoted as saying “I hate that team,” in reference to his new home as recently as 2012.

The outspoken veteran also admonished former teammate Karlos Dansby just one year ago for leaving the Cardinals for the Cleveland Browns in free agency. Arizona wanted to keep Dansby, but couldn’t compete with the four-year, $20 million deal the Browns doled out with $12 million guaranteed.

“He chased the money,” Dockett said about Dansby last April. “I’ve got a lot of respect for our guy that left, I love him like a brother. But we were one or two pieces away from really making a lot of noise.

“I personally feel like he chased the money versus chasing a ring. No knock towards Cleveland — I don’t want people to try to think I’m saying Cleveland doesn’t have a chance; everybody has a chance — but I just felt like it was made for him to be here.”

Fast forward a year. The Cardinals wanted to keep Dockett and have him retire in Arizona. But they were unwilling (wisely so) to acquiesce to the financial demands of a player who will be 34 on opening day and is coming off a serious knee injury. They tried to renegotiate a lesser deal, couldn’t do it and the team released him last week. Dockett got more money from the 49ers.

End of story.

For most of 2014, the Cardinals proved that they could survive without Dockett. Sure, it would have been nice to have #90 on the defensive line, but a patchwork defensive front seven ranked at or near the top of the league’s rankings against the run for most of the season.

The three-time Pro Bowler reportedly gave the Cardinals an opportunity to match San Francisco’s offer and they didn’t flinch.

I have absolutely no problem with Dockett leaving for San Francisco. But that cologne he’s wearing today may as well be called “Hypocrisy by Calvin Klein.” How do you lob verbal jabs at a teammate for doing exactly what you would do 11 months later?

In terms of Dockett’s production, it has slipped. He’s had 9.5 sacks in his last 47 games. Kudos to the Cardinals for not allowing emotion and loyalty get in the way and bringing back a player with two huge question marks next to his name at a price that didn’t work for them.

Arizona now saves $6.8 million against next year’s $143 million salary cap, which gives them an opportunity to pursue a younger, healthier and more productive player in Dockett’s position next season.

It’s been fun watching Darnell Dockett in Cardinal red for the last 11 years, but it’s time to move on.