Cards working to extend Washington

FLAGSTAFF — The Cardinals want to keep inside linebacker Daryl Washington around for a while. That’s why general manager Rod Graves said Wednesday the team is working toward a contract extension for the third-year player from Texas Christian.

“He’s a core player,” Graves said. “We haven’t sat down to talk contact, but we anticipate doing that soon. He’s under consideration like several others. The main point is to keep group together.”

It’s not common to extend a player just two years into his rookie contract, Graves acknowledged.

“Most of the time, no. Certainly not recently. It shows you how much value we put on Daryl Washington,” Graves said.

Graves added that Washington isn’t the only player under consideration for an extension.
“We’ve got guys like (running back) LaRod Stephens-Howling, several other guys, restricted free agents we know are going to be vital parts of team. Our hope is to keep them together,” he said.

Washington said the news is encouraging.

“For them to come to me and want me to be here, it’s important,” he said, adding that the talks show “respect and understanding (of) my abilities and the way I am on the field and off the field. What kind of person I am.”

Washington led the team in tackles last season with 107 whole adding five sacks. His versatility, athleticism and speed were increasingly apparent as the Arizona defense became one of the league’s elite units over the second half of last season. So was his ability to make plays.

“Coach Ray Horton has me in a lot of different spots. He gives me the opportunity to make a lot of plays in many areas,” Washington said. “This year I think is really the year to go over the top and make a huge impact for this team — be in Hawaii and be a Pro Bowl guy.”

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