Just days after the Arizona Cardinals kept a fan favorite, another one may be heading out the door.
On Friday afternoon, the Cardinals released defensive lineman Darnell Dockett. With his release, the Red Birds gain just under $7 million in cap space.
With the restructure of Larry Fitzgerald’s contract, the release of Ted Ginn and now this news, the Cardinals are in much better financial shape than they were just a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly, they could be big players once free agency kicks off on March 10.
Drafted in the third round of the 2004 draft out of Florida State, Dockett has been a mainstay on the Cardinals defensive front. Arguably his best season came in 2009 when he had 51 total tackles and seven sacks while helping the Cards to their second straight postseason appearance.
This past season was a rough one for Dockett. He tore his ACL during training camp and missed the entire 2014 season. Before the injury, the former Seminole had missed only two games in 10 NFL seasons.
Dockett’s release doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the end of him in a Cardinals uniform. The Cardinals want to bring him back, but at a discounted price for a guy who will turn 34 in May and coming off a serious knee injury.
The d-lineman will now be given an opportunity to explore his options on the free agent market. No one knows what Dockett and his agent exactly want, but there’s always a chance that one team will pony up and give the money that the two men are asking for.
One team that could make sense is the New York Jets. Of course, Todd Bowles has been Dockett’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons in Arizona and bringing in a veteran like DD would make a lot of sense for Bowles. The Jets also have a ton of cash to spend, so money shouldn’t be an object for them.
If Dockett does end up elsewhere, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Keep in mind that this football team did win 11 games and made a postseason appearance with Dockett on the sidelines all season long.
Arizona does have quality depth at the position as well. The Cardinals drafted Kareem Martin and Ed Stinson last season probably knowing this could be a possibility down the line. The team also has Frostee Rucker and could bring back Tommy Kelly, who was tremendous in 2014.
The one area that this team would be unable to replace Dockett if he does indeed leave is his leadership capabilities. The man has been the heart and soul of this defense for so many years now and he’s a great mentor to the young guys on the roster.
Stay with HeatWaved as we cover the Dockett situation and all the Cardinals news throughout the offseason.