On Tuesday, the Cardinals moved from “next man up” to “which” man up?
As part of figuring out who will eventually replace starting inside linebackers Daryl Washington, who was suspended for a year, and Karlos Dansby, who signed with the Browns, the Cardinals inked free agent Ernie Sims to a one-year contract.
The former first-round pick (9th overall) of the Lions in 2006, Sims played the last two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, starting 12 of 22 games.
The move comes a day after Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians expressed “extreme” disappointment in Washington’s suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
“We obviously hope that Daryl gets his life straightened out, but he also is very unaccountable to his teammates, the organization, the fans and everybody else,” Arians said. “He made a choice and we’re all living with it.”
Currently, the Cards are figuring on Kevin Minter, coming off a rookie season where the second round pick played one defensive snap, as Dansby’s replacement. Veteran free agent signee Larry Foote will be a candidate to take Washington's place, at least part of the time.
Lorenzo Alexander, who started at outside linebacker before going down with a foot injury three games into last season, will move inside, a position he played earlier in his career. Also, Kenny Demens is a possibility to move up from the practice squad a year ago.
But the loss of two key starters impacts more than the Cardinals defense.
"We have to step up," QB Carson Palmer said about the offense. "When you lose a guy like Daryl and you lose Karlos to free agency, Tyrann (Mathieu) is not going to be back probably as fast as we'd like, you kind of have to transform. That's the NFL. ...Offensively we have to pick up a ton of slack. We leaned on the defense a lot last year and we expect to be leaned on this year. We need to come through and we will come through."