Updates from Monday, June 2
A source within the organization told ESPN that none of that money has actually been paid to Washington and conceded that one of the reasons the team won't consider releasing him is because they might no longer be entitled to keep a portion of that money.
Sources within the organization say that Washington will be placed on the reserve-suspended list after a positive drug test the player says was for using marijuana.
Sources say there are two reasons the Cardinals won't cut Washington yet: his cap acceleration would be approximately $7.5 million and they would not be entitled to recover some of the aforementioned $10 million option bonus -- none of which has been paid at this point.
The suspension is for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, the same reason Washington was suspended last year, and unrelated to Washington’s recent plea bargain for an assault charge. The suspension begins immediately.
"It’s completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. "We all know what the consequences are and will deal with them. From a personal standpoint, our hope is that this suspension will give Daryl the opportunity to accept the necessary help and guidance to get his life back on track and we will certainly support him however we can.
"As it pertains to our team, our approach is the same as it’s always been: next man up. We talk a lot about how critical depth is to a team because situations always arise where you lose players, whether by injury or other circumstances such as this one. One player’s absence is another’s opportunity. That approach has served us well in the past and we will rely on it now."
Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 in Phoenix broke the news:
BREAKING: I've been told #Cardinals LB Daryl Washington will miss the ENTIRE 2014 season. Spoke with a player who confirmed the news.— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) May 30, 2014
Washington released a statement on Friday, per ESPN's Adam Caplan:
Statement from Daryl Washington: pic.twitter.com/xaPuWAtk3S— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) May 30, 2014
Many speculated that the cause of the suspension dated back to an incident with an ex-girlfriend for which he was charged with aggravated assault, although that wound up not being the case. Josh Weinfuss of ESPN reported in April that the defensive stalwart pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to probation:
A month later he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault stemming from an altercation with ex-girlfriend who is also the mother of his child.
On March 24, he pleaded guilty. And on Wednesday in Phoenix, the Pro Bowler was sentenced to a year of supervised probation.
The report also notes Washington had served a prior league suspension for a violation of the substance abuse policy. That ban lasted four games.
Ross Jones of Fox Sports reports on the financial implications of Washington's mistake:
Daryl Washington will forfeit his $2.9M base salary and $100K workout bonus.— Ross Jones (@RossJonesFOX) May 30, 2014
Washington's second substance abuse policy violation is a troubling one for him; a year-long suspension is quite a blow to the team's chances, and the linebacker's career.
Can the Cardinals make the playoffs without Washington?
Losing Washington for the entire season will be a major setback for the Cardinals defense. He racked up 75 total tackles, 11 passes defended, three sacks and two interceptions in 12 games last season.
Bill Barnwell of Grantland put the suspension on the same level as Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns in terms of overall impact:
A Daryl Washington suspension is every bit as big as a Josh Gordon one in terms of impact. Such a talented, important player. What a shame.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) May 30, 2014
Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus echoed the thoughts of many in his assessment of Washington:
Daryl Washington is one of the best all-around LBs in the league. Huge blow to the Cardinals if he's indeed out for the season.— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) May 30, 2014
Kevin Minter may have to take on a much larger role in the middle of the Arizona defense in Washington's absence. Veteran Larry Foote could be thrust into a full-time starting role, as well.
The Cardinals, who missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record last season, are in the most competitive division in the league. Making the playoffs out of the NFC West without their star linebacker will be an uphill battle.