New Cardinal D.J. Swearinger learns lessons with release from Redskins

Dec 26, 2018, 4:42 PM | Updated: 10:01 pm

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)...

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

TEMPE, Ariz. — D.J. Swearinger spoke up and learned the hard way.

Just Saturday, he was a frustrated member of the Redskins, who following a loss to the Tennessee Titans was questioning the play-calling by Washington defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

Two days later, the Pro Bowl alternate was cut for publicly airing his grievances with a coach he said he has a good relationship with. And a day later, on Christmas, the Arizona Cardinals picked up the safety off waivers.

The Christmas break change of scenery was a surprise, Swearinger admitted.

“Just living and learning, man,” the safety said in front of his Cardinals locker Wednesday. “Just understand, you know, it wasn’t my role to call out the defensively coaches even though, like I said, we had a relationship. We had a good relationship.

“You know, I’m a very passionate player. I put my heart in this game. You put the camera in my face after we lose a game — we’re supposed to go to the playoffs — and I may say some things that I shouldn’t say. That’s on me. I got to control that and be better at that.”

What wasn’t as surprising as Swearinger’s release was the Cardinals taking a chance on a player who in 2015-16 received a career reset playing in the desert.

Swearinger, 27, joined Washington as a free agent before last season after producing 66 tackles, 2.0 sacks, three interceptions and eight passes defensed with Arizona in 2016.

In the present, the Cardinals sit atop of the NFL waiver wire with a 3-12 record. General manager Steve Keim said Friday that he would be aggressive in picking up talent considering where the team stands, and with Swearinger, he gets insurance with free safety Tre Boston entering free agency and looking for a big payday.

Swearinger is under contract through next season and will make a base salary of $4.5 million. He has 53 tackles, 1.0 sack and tied a career-high with four interceptions and 10 passes defensed this season.

Being up to speed to play in the Cardinals’ season finale at Seattle on Sunday could be a longshot for Swearinger, Arizona coach Steve Wilks admitted.

It’s quite possible Swearinger could make his debut in a Cardinals helmet instead as a Pro Bowler, as NBC Sports confirmed with the NFL office he would wear an Arizona helmet if he’s needed.

Looking ahead to his place with the Cardinals, Wilks said he was excited for the addition, calling the safety “tough” and “nasty.” But Wilks, who had yet to sit down wtih Swearinger, added that the reason the safety was released from Washington wouldn’t be tolerated.

“I don’t stand in front of you guys (in the media) and throw coaches or players under the bus. That’s not my style,” Wilks said. “I don’t have a problem with his opinion. But he’s not going to air that outside our building.

“When you look at these guys coming out of the draft, you know what they can do on tape,” Wilks said about Swearinger’s long-term place on the team. “You got to make sure we get guys who love football. Just love the frickin’ game. I think D.J. is one of those guys.”


Josh Rosen is no doubt the Cardinals’ quarterback of the future.

But as it stands, he’s keeping himself out of the discussion regarding potential coaching staff changes. Asked Wednesday about his opinion on the coaching staff and specifically the future of Byron Leftwich, who was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator midseason, Rosen declined to share it.

“I mean, have thoughts but it’s not really my place to share it,” he said. “I love all the coaches here, we’ve battled our butts off. All of that stuff is kind of out of my control. It’s kind of useless to comment.”

Rosen added he’d not been asked by Cardinals higher-ups to share that opinion with them to this point.

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