TEMPE, Ariz. — Karlos Dansby admits that when the Miami Dolphins released him in March, “it was a humbling situation.” That didn’t mean Dansby was ready to humble his salary demands as a newly minted free agent.
“There was plenty of offers out there – everywhere I went,” said Dansby, who named Cincinnati, Buffalo, the New York Giants and Atlanta as suitors. “You name it, man, all of them called.”
The problem was that most of those offers were for one year and far less money than Dansby thought he deserved after leaving the Cardinals to sign a five-year, $42.5 million contract with the Dolphins in 2010.
“My price was pretty high at the time. I can’t lie,” said Dansby, who was released because he carried an $8.375 million cap hit. “But the numbers situation right now with the new CBA is totally different. The market changed; it had flipped. You have to make the best decision that’s for you and your comfort zone.”
For Dansby, coming back to the Cardinals was a no-brainer. He signed a one year deal worth $2.25 million with a $1 million signing bonus and a base salary of $1.25 million.
“I still had a house here — paid for,” he said, laughing. “Got cars here already. It was just simple, man.”
Dansby also had plenty of former teammates pushing him to re-sign with Arizona, including receiver Larry Fitzgerald and defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, the latter of whom Dansby said has been pressuring him ever since he was released.
The Cardinals’ decision was just as simple, especially on a one-year deal. The team’s best defensive player, inside linebacker Daryl Washington, is suspended for the first four games of next year for violating the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, and he could face additional penalties following his arrest in a domestic violence incident.
The other starter at inside linebacker last season, Paris Lenon, was not re-signed, and backup Stewart Bradley was released.
The Cards still have Reggie Walker, signed free agent Jasper Brinkley before the NFL Draft and selected LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter in the second round, giving them insurance for the future should Washington’s off-field issues convince the team to cut ties. But the Cards needed a solution this season. Dansby provides just that at the same position Washington plays, and he is already familiar with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ system.
Bowles was the Dolphins defensive backs coach from 2008-11. He also was the interim head coach for the Dolphins for the final three games of the 2011 season after Tony Sparano was fired.
“Karlos has played both Mike and Mo (linebacker) in this system for Todd, so we know what he can do,” said coach Bruce Arians, who said he has been talking to general manager Steve Keim about adding Dansby for more than a month. “It adds great depth, but again the leadership presence that he’s always had in the locker room is the type of player that we want.”
Dansby doesn’t envision any problems when Washington returns since he can play both inside backer positions.
“My versatility kind of sets me apart,” said Dansby, who also has the ability to play outside.
Dansby led the Dolphins last season with a career-high 133 tackles and also had one sack while starting all 16 games. It was his second consecutive season of more than 100 tackles and the sixth of his career. He is one of two active NFL players, along with London Fletcher, with at least 30 career sacks (31.5) and 10 career interceptions (11).
Dansby (6-4, 250) began his career with the Cardinals as a second-round draft pick in 2004 out of Auburn and played six seasons in Arizona. He started 83 games over that period and recorded 623 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 10 interceptions 13 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries. He was an integral part of the team’s run to the Super Bowl in 2009 but left the following season for a lucrative deal the Cards simply weren’t willing to match given their other salary commitments.
The departure stunned some in the Valley and left some in the organization feeling slighted. But Dansby insisted it was not difficult to return.
“It wasn’t awkward at all. I left on good terms,” he said. “We both knew it was a business decision.”
Dansby even noted a different, more relaxed feel to the organization on this tour of duty — with a new coaching staff and a new GM setting the tone.
“Even Michael Bidwill, he was all relaxed,” Dansby said. “He had some jeans on and a button-up shirt. I had never seen him dressed like that. I always see him in a tie.
“It’s just a new feel, man. It’s perfect.”
NOTES: The Cardinals announced Friday that they had signed their final four draft choices — fifth-round running back Stepfan Taylor, sixth-round wide receiver Ryan Swope, sixth-round running back Andre Ellington and seventh-round tight end D.C. Jefferson — to CBA-required, slotted four-year contracts.
The team’s rookie camp began Friday and runs through Sunday. It’s likely more of the draft picks will be under contract by the time the camp ends.