It has been a little less than one week since the Arizona Cardinals abruptly released linebacker Daryl Washington, with the move closing the book on the talented player’s tumultuous career in the Valley.
There were ups — such as his banner 2012 that included 134 tackles, nine sacks and a Pro Bowl berth — as well as some lows, which included multiple suspensions and, ultimately, his release.
In a statement released shortly after he was, Washington thanked the Cardinals organization and said the decision to part ways was mutual.
On Wednesday, chatting with Kordell Stewart and Brian Webber on TuneIn’s NFL No Huddle, he expanded on his thought process upon becoming a free agent.
“My reaction was pretty much like anyone else,” he said. “You hate to get released, you hate to be in a situation where two teams can’t come to an agreement.
“But there’s no animosity toward the team; it just adds more fuel to the fire and more motivation for you to go and meet with 31 other teams.”
What kind of market is awaiting Washington, who is 30 years old and has not played since the 2013 season, remains to be seen. It’s tough to imagine no one taking a chance on him, however, given that he was at one time a game-changing linebacker who a defense could be built around.
The day before the Cardinals released him head coach Bruce Arians, in discussing the idea of potentially bringing Washington back into the fold, said one of the questions that needed an answer was what kind of shape the player was in after being away from the game for so long.
“Yeah, you can lift weights all you want, but you ain’t chasing anybody around,”Arians said.
Washington is not lacking confidence in his ability to get back on the field and produce, saying he does not want to build himself up by that he feels like he is better now than he was when he first entered the NFL.
“As far as shape-wise, as far as being able to play at the level I came in at, at the Pro Bowl level, All-Pro level I was,” he said. “I think I’m better, I’m bigger, I’m stronger, smarter — so for a team to see me, they’re going to be able to get that feel for me once they see me and also when I get on that field I think it’s going to come pretty simple.”
Washington added he is looking forward to meeting with teams and having the opportunity to show them he can once again play at a high level, and if he can, then an organization is going to get an impact player at a discount price.
But the former second-round pick out of TCU will likely have more to prove than just whether or not he can play football, as wherever Washington goes he will be carrying some pretty hefty baggage with him.
He believes he has turned things around with that, too, in part by keeping his faith in God and receiving encouragement from his family. He also has the right resources around him, he said, and it all helps him to keep his composure.
“Obviously from a standpoint, I’ve grown and matured over the years and been able to kind of really appreciate life and appreciate the game that I took for granted at one point,” he said. “When you feel like you’re on top of the world and you’re on that pedestal, you feel like everything’s easy, nothing would happen.
“Once it’s taken away from you, you really feel that much more grateful for the opportunity, just say, ‘You know what? I really took these things for granted so when I get back, now it’s time to go even harder.’ I think at this point in my life I feel much better mentally, physically, spiritually, and I’m in the right mind frame.”
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