ARIZONA CARDINALS

How do the Cardinals replace their most irreplaceable player?

Jun 3, 2014, 6:17 PM | Updated: 9:15 pm

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We’ve read the calls to cut Daryl Washington. You can find them here and here.

We’ve also read why now is clearly not the time to do so.

We all understand that “Next Man Up” is, A) the new sports cliché (mercifully replacing “It is what it is”) and B) certainly applies in this circumstance.

The fundamental problem here is that the Cardinals must now replace their most irreplaceable player.

Quick, name a player more valuable than Washington. Patrick Peterson? Calais Campbell? Larry Fitzgerald? Carson Palmer? If I were making a Guys-I-Can’t-Lose list, Daryl Washington would be at the top.

It’s not meant as a slight to anyone else on the field. Football teams fail and succeed because of the collective effort, not the individual. Players work in concert with each other to make plays and win games.

Yet I’m not certain there is another player on this roster whose absence affects that roster more than Washington. Speed. Instincts. Versatility. You just don’t have anything close in terms of an in-house or out-house solution to replicate that.

ESPN Stats and Info points out that Washington is the only player in the NFL with 300 tackles and 15 sacks over the last three seasons.

To compensate, the Cardinals might have to undergo a minor reinvention.

The key to winning football games in Washington’s absence won’t fall on the recently-signed Ernie Sims. Or Larry Foote or Kevin Minter. It will fall on Palmer and Fitz. Michael Floyd and Andre Ellington. Palmer was quick to point out that the Cardinals’ defense carried this team last year and now it was time for a little quid pro quo.

The defense still has plenty of impact football players. But without the guy in the middle (literally and figuratively), the very identity of this team has to change.

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How do the Cardinals replace their most irreplaceable player?