When Calais Campbell agreed to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, that left Larry Fitzgerald as the only remaining member of the Cardinals team that made a run to the Super Bowl in 2008 still with the organization.
Though Campbell exited stage left, general manager Steve Keim worked quickly to offset for the loss in veteran leadership, and one of the first moves he made in free agency was bringing back inside linebacker Karlos Dansby who recorded 114 tackles and two interceptions for Arizona back in 2008.
The Cardinals officially announced Dansby's return to the organization last week in hopes the 13-year NFL veteran will help provide a much-needed spark on the defensive side of the ball and lead Arizona to an ever-elusive Super Bowl title.
"Very close, and they've got all the pieces to the puzzle," Dansby said in his introductory press conference on Friday. "Guys just got to sacrifice a little bit more I think and if they do that and they go all in, I don't think anybody can stop them. Hopefully I can come in and help guys understand the magnitude of this opportunity cause we haven't made a run since '08."
Dansby was a critical member of Arizona's defense during the team's 2008 season, and said the opportunity to return to the Cardinals in 2017 for his third tour of duty with the franchise is one he jumped at immediately.
"It's new, man, it's 2017, got a new feel, new direction, Mr. Bidwill, BA (Bruce Arians), coaching staff, everybody's just locked in and they're ready to make a run," Dansby said. "Like I said, once I got that call right about 4:02 saying are you ready to come home, I said let's do it. There's no place like home. Let's do it, let's have some fun, and try to make a run."
After being selected by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dansby spent the first six seasons of his career in Arizona, racking up over 100 tackles in his final two campaigns before departing for a three-year stint with the Miami Dolphins.
In 2013, Dansby came back to Arizona on a one-year contract, but departed the following season for a two-year tenure in Cleveland and then a one-year venture in Cincinnati. Now, Dansby is back in the desert and said even he couldn't dream up a story like his own.
"I couldn't write this if I tried," Dansby said. "If I was a writer, writing a story, I couldn't put it like this. I took a journey to Ohio to learn about the game of football because like I said, a lot of it was birthed there."
At 35 years old, Dansby is in the final stages of an impressive NFL career, but he wants the Cardinals to know he's intent on playing at a high level for the foreseeable future. Dansby said the 2017 season would not be his last, and said he still has plenty left in his tank.
"What I got left? I've got a lot left," Dansby said. "I can't lie, I've been blessed. I've been blessed, God's been showing me tremendous favor, showing me favor even bringing me back here. Who would have knew I would be back here this fast and this soon. I was just trying to obey him."
The Cardinals will likely plug Dansby into the vacant inside linebacker position that's been manned by Kevin Minter for the last two seasons and ask him to serve as the focal point of a defense loaded with explosive talent like Tyrann Mathieu, Chandler Jones and Markus Golden.
Though Dansby is seen as a run-first defender, he made it clear he expects to be an every-down linebacker for the Cardinals in 2017 and won't need to be spelled on passing downs.
"I'm one interception away from being a legend, man," Dansby said. "Why wouldn't I be a three-down linebacker, that would be silly of me to say I'm just a two-down linebacker?"
Over his 13-year career, Dansby has recorded 42.0 sacks and 19 interceptions, leaving him an interception shy of joining the 40-sack, 20-interception club. Dansby was a member of the Cardinals when safety Adrian Wilson joined the 20-sack, 20-interception club, and said that's a moment that has stuck with him throughout his career.
Though Dansby is one of the best linebackers in Cardinals' franchise history and has enjoyed an extended NFL career, he's never made a Pro Bowl appearance, so joining an elite club would provide him with some additional validation for the way he's played the game.
"I was able to bear witness to Adrian Wilson getting into the 20-20 club and once I've seen him make it, I knew I could do it too," Dansby said. "I've been pressing for it ever since. Getting the 40-20 club, it would be tremendous. Only four other guys have been able to do it and all those guys are Hall of Famers, legends of the game, and I've been able to do it without one Pro Bowl. I think that's very phenomenal and special. Once I get this one, it's going to put me up there with the best to play this game."