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.
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.
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