Former Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington has been conditionally reinstated by the NFL after missing the past three seasons due to drug-related suspensions. Washington, a Second-Team All-Pro in 2012, plans to play this upcoming season.
Blast from past: NFL conditionally reinstated Arizona LB Daryl Washington, and he plans to play in 2017, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 25, 2017
If Washington is like his old self, his presence will help the Cardinals In 2013, he was strong in coverage and one of the better inside linebackers in football, posting a 58 percent success rate, per Football Outsiders’ charting. The NFL released a statement upon his reinstatement saying “he will be permitted to participate in all preseason activities,” and “based on his compliance and engagement with his program and resources, he will be permitted to participate in all regular season activities beginning in Week 1.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2017
Of course, there are some obstacles to a return. Washington has not played football in three years and is now 30 years old, likely a different player from when he was first suspended. Even the Cardinals themselves are wary of his return.
Cards: "Considering we have been prohibited from having contact w/ him last 3 years, it would be premature to discuss a potential return." https://t.co/3wOj4qy75q
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 25, 2017
It’s probably worth giving Washington a training camp spot given his history, but the Cardinals shouldn’t be in any rush to put him on the roster. Their defense is pretty good without him and there’s always a risk he’ll be suspended again.
The organization should at least have a conversation with Washington — evidently for the first time in three years — before they approve his return.