Cardinals: What to do with Karlos Dansby?

The Arizona Cardinals have already experienced an eventful offseason and their next move is expected to be franchising linebacker Karlos Dansby. This will be the second consecutive year Dansby has been slapped with the franchise tag and his long-term future in Arizona will likely be determined in the coming months. What options do the Cardinals have with Dansby? Brad Wilbricht explains.

Last year the Arizona Cardinals were unsure about the future of LB Karlos Dansby but one thing they knew is they wanted him in Arizona. The Cardinals are once again expected to show their unwillingness to let him venture onto the open market and will likely franchise him within the next few days. If Dansby were to sign the one-year tender, he'll be scheduled to make $9.6 million next season.

Since arriving in the desert, Dansby has been a key component of the Arizona defense. After being forced into essentially a one-year audition for a long-term deal in 2008, Dansby responded with his best season as a professional. He racked up a career-high 119 tackles to go along with four sacks and two interceptions. In addition, Dansby played a major role in the team's postseason success.

Given their marginal depth at linebacker, it's hard to imagine the Cardinals won't do everything in their power to lock-up Dansby for the long haul. There's an outside chance the Arizona front office is utilizing the franchise tag to buy time to trade Dansby or to ensure they'll receive compensation if he winds up elsewhere. If Dansby is tagged as a non-exclusive franchise player, any team that signed him would be on the hook for two first-round draft picks.

With the recent firing of former defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast confirming coach Ken Whisenhunt's commitment to the 3-4 defense, the linebacker position becomes vital for the Cardinals. The combination of Dansby and LB Gerald Hayes provides Arizona with a strong foundation in its linebacking corps. Currently behind Dansby and Hayes on the depth chart are Monty Beisel and Pago Tagafau.


Kurt Warner
(Getty)

The other big news stemming from this move is that QB Kurt Warner will be able to test the open market. While the Cardinals would have no interest paying a 37-year old quarterback $14 million in 2009 (the current franchise tender for quarterbacks), it would have provided the team more time to finalize a new deal. Given the recent departure of former offensive coordinator Todd Haley to the Kansas City Chiefs and the possible defection of WR Anquan Boldin, Warner's future in Arizona is not as clear-cut as it once was.

At just 27 years of age, a productive player like Dansby would draw a tremendous amount of attention in free agency. During his five-year career, Dansby has racked up 446 tackles, 24.5 sacks and nine interceptions. Furthermore, he's forced 11 fumbles and has accounted for 25 pass deflections.

Entering 2008, the only question regarding Dansby was his durability. In his first three seasons, he failed to play an entire 16-game campaign due to injuries. However, Dansby answered those questions by staying healthy for 20 games this year, thanks to Arizona's lengthy playoff run.

The Cardinals' front office has vowed to lock up its core players for the long term and Dansby certainly qualifies as one of those players. WR Larry Fitzgerald was signed to a four-year $40 million contract last offseason and Dansby will likely be GM Rod Graves main focus this year. While he won't cash in as much as Fitzgerald did, Dansby will certainly welcome the security of having a multi-year contract.


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com
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