Darnell Dockett: Stating His Case

A fixture on the defensive line for the last five years, defensive end Darnell Dockett is enjoying another fine season—this year in a new system. Dockett continues to be a big part of the Cardinals' organization, but is he worthy of another contract extension? Andy Bishop gives the answer.

Fifteen tackles and one sack. That's Darnell Dockett's stat line through five games this season. Not entirely impressive, right? Well folks, as the saying goes, stats don't tell the whole story.

Dockett, 28, is enjoying one of his finest seasons in the desert. He's part of a rejuvenated defensive line that is the main force behind the league's No. 1 ranked rush defense. Dockett constantly slips by blockers and makes opponents double-team him, allowing other defenders to get to the ball. Though the stats won't show it, Dockett has made a big impact this season. Dockett's continued success comes in the wake of a major change in the Cardinals' defensive scheme.

Arizona now employs a base 3-4 defense. This means that Dockett had to become a 3-4 end after earning his paycheck as 4-3 tackle the first five years of his career. While the positions are not drastically different, Dockett still had to work at learning the new system.

No 3-4 end will ever throw up big numbers, especially sack total, but Dockett will continue to make his share of key plays this season, and boost his status as one of the best linemen in the NFL.

Darnell Dockett

Speaking of status boosting, that has been Dockett's MO his entire career. Overlooked and drafted in the third round of the 2004 draft, he outperformed his rookie contract and received an extension in 2006. He has since outperformed that contact and has wanted a new one for the last two years.

Dockett has made his case for a new contract not only with his great play the last two seasons, but also his dominant performance so far in 2009. He seems to play his best in the most pressure-packed games. After three modest performances in the NFC playoffs last season, Dockett erupted in the Super Bowl with six tackles and three sacks. Additionally, Dockett has missed just one game (during his rookie season) his entire career—a model of consistency any organization would love.

Even though he deserves a new contract, Dockett may not see one on the table for at least another year. Arizona still has the opportunity to re-sign both LB Karlos Dansby and WR Anquan Boldin. It does look less and less likely that Dansby will return, and the situation with Boldin is unclear at best, so Dockett could be the one to get a new contract.

Whatever unfolds Dockett will continue to be a profitable investment for an organization that is trying to discover a better level of consistency. Always undervalued, Dockett is making his case for a big payday in the near future.

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