Cards' Dockett Puts Winning Over Contract

Everyone knows Darnell Dockett deserves a new contract but the Pro Bowl defensive lineman has managed to keep his priorities in order.

Defensive lineman Darnell Dockett is doing his best to be a team player, with no other motive than wanting to win football games, he said.

For the last few months, Dockett has taken a diplomatic approach when asked about his dissatisfaction with his contract.

It's a smart move if Dockett's motive is getting a long-term deal done with the team before the season is out. Safety Adrian Wilson took a similar path in 2009 and was rewarded with a long-term deal.

Dockett, however, said he's not emulating Wilson. He's just doing right by his teammates.

"I'm not a money ... I'm not a selfish guy," Dockett said. "I care about winning. So I'm able to come to work and prepare, like I got a game tomorrow. I believe in the organization and I'm pretty sure they'll take care of it sooner than a lot of people think."

Dockett and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, met with general manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt before training camp began. The Cardinals are willing to restructure or extend Dockett's contract, which ends after the 2011 season.

But Dockett must be willing to give a little, too. The Cardinals could control his rights for at least three more years, provided a new collective bargaining agreement allows for the franchise tag.

The Cardinals traditionally don't re-negotiate contracts until the first month of the season has passed. In Dockett's case, Graves and the Bidwill Family seem willing to address the issue sooner, but it's doubtful a deal will be done before training camp.

Dockett has an ally in Whisenhunt, who has often emphasized to Dockett the need to mature. Dockett seems to have done that. He has cut down on foolish penalties and tried to help younger players.

He's always going to explore the lines of good taste, like taking a shower on the Internet, but Whisenhunt thinks Dockett's heart is in the right place.

"I understand Darnell now, and I understand where his heart is and what he's trying to do," Whisenhunt said. "You are going to have to live with a few of those things as long as they don't cross the line. And I think Darnell understands that better."

"I'm at a really good place with Darnell and glad he's on our football team."

Dockett hasn't missed a game in six NFL seasons, and he had to sit out fewer than 10 practices in that time.

He has let contract issues dominate his thinking over the past few years, however. In 2008-09 he stayed away from offseason workouts to make a point that he was underpaid.

This year, however, he attended everything. Dockett did a considerable amount of lobbying for the team to sign veteran outside linebacker Joey Porter, and would have felt hypocritical if he had stayed away from camp.

"What would it feel like, me getting you to come here, you come and then I get into myself mode and don't come and I'm texting you, 'how's it going?'" Dockett said.

"I wasn't taking no Adrian Wilson route. Adrian is his own man; I'm my own man."

There will never be any doubt about that.

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