Cardinals LB Washington suspended for entire season

The Cardinals face the 2014 season without both of their 2013 starters at inside linebacker.

Daryl Washington was sentenced to one year's supervised probation in April after pleading guilty to aggravated assault of the mother of his child.

Casey Sapio / USA TODAY Sports

TEMPE, Ariz. --  Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Daryl Washington has been suspended for "at least" the entire 2014 season for "violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse."

The suspension, first reported Friday morning by FOX Sports 910's Mike Jurecki, was confirmed in a statement by the NFL.

Washington pleaded guilty in March to assaulting the mother of his child, but a league spokesperson said that was not a factor in this suspension. The suspension is solely for the substance abuse violation. It is unclear if Washington's guilty plea could become a factor down the road.

Washington was suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the league's policy on substance abuse, so this would be a repeat violation. Based on a statement released through agent Jordan Woy, the substance appears to be marijuana.

The statement reads: "I recently learned that I had violations of the NFL Substances of Abuse Policy related to marijuana. The policy is very strict and I have chosen to take responsibility. I am committed to making changes in my life that will allow me to return to the NFL as soon as possible. I will work extremely hard to stay in top football shape, and I will work equally as hard to ensure that my life off the field meets the high level of maturity and responsibility to which I am committed. I sincerely apologize for the effect of my actions on my teammates, coaches and other colleagues at the Cardinals. I also apologize to Cardinals fans for the time I will miss. I will work diligently during this suspension and will return as a better man and football player."

Punishment for Stage 2 of the league’s system is a four-game suspension, which is exactly what Washington received last year. In Stage 3, the minimum suspension is for at least one year. According to that policy, once the year has passed, the player must apply for reinstatement; a return is not automatic. He then spends the rest of his career in Stage 3, with unannounced testing and the chance of being tested up to 10 times a month.

ESPN reported earlier this month that Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon was headed for a year-long ban after failing a drug test for marijuana. FOX Sports 1 NFL insider Mike Garafolo reported that Gordon hopes to have the suspension reduced to four to six games upon appeal. The league is  considering relaxing its policy on marijuana, but clearly that has not happened yet.

The Washington suspension will leave Arizona with a gaping hole at inside linebacker after losing their other 2013 starter, Karlos Dansby, in free agency. That may explain why the team brought in veteran Ernie Sims for a workout according to multiple reports, although coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday that he wanted to add another inside linebacker anyway.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim issued a statement calling Washington's behavior "completely unacceptable."

"It's completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position," 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."

Washington was due to make $2.9 million in base salary which will be forfeited, but that's not all he will lose. Here is a look at the financial ramifications of this supension, courtesy of overthecap.com.

The Cardinals could choose to cut bait with Washington based on principle and the fact that he has let them down on three separate occasions. However, from a financial standpoint, it makes no sense to cut Washington now, as azcardinals.com writer Darren Urban points out in this blog post.


Without Washington, the Cardinals have unproven second-year linebacker Kevin Minter, the team's second-round pick (45th overall) in 2013, 13-year veteran Larry Foote, whom the team recently signed in free agency and a cast of unlikely starters that includes Keenan Clayton, Kenny Demens, JoJo Dickson and rookies Jonathan Brown and Glenn Carson. There is also the possibility that outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander could move inside.

Washington was arrested May 3, 2013, when he surrendered to police in his attorney's office, two days after the mother of his child went to police. She told officers Washington had visited her at her apartment where she lives with their daughter. The woman told police Washington pushed her with two hands, causing her to fall and break her collarbone, according to court documents.

After his guilty plea, Washington was sentenced in April to one year of supervised probation. The charge would be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor if he completes the probation. If Washington does not successfully complete his probation he could serve jail time.

The Cardinals drafted Washington in 2010 out of TCU with their second-round pick (47th overall). He made the Pro Bowl in 2012 as an alternate to replace San Francisco's NaVorro Bowman after leading the team in tackles (140), sacks (nine) and tackles for loss (14). He signed a six-year contract in September of 2012 that included $32 million of new money.

Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter