The Arizona Cardinals have a series of very important decisions to be made this offseason. One of those decisions is what to do with inside linebacker Daryl Washington if and when he is reinstated from his current substance abuse suspension.
Washington has had a bit of a ride. He was suspended for at least a year under the substance abuse policy. He was suspended four games in 2013 previously. He was involved with a domestic incident before it was such a league issue, later agreeing to a plea deal on a lesser charge, but still a felony.
If/when reinstated, there is an issue of money. He will carry a pretty solid cap hit.
It would be easy to cut ties with him, especially with the money issue and the awareness of domestic violence issues.
At the same time, the Cardinals clearly miss his presence on the field.
A former Cardinal, Adrian Wilson believes it is a key decision for the Cardinals as a franchise moving forward.
While on "The Drive" with Mike Jurecki and Jody Oehler on Fox Sports Radio 910 on Monday, he called the decision "very, very critical."
He feels the team "can keep Daryl Washington and show the fans of Arizona that you're willing to work with a guy that has off-the-field issues," which is a positive thing both for fans and the players in the locker room.
But Wilson added a caveat. He believes "you have to restructure the deal in order for him to realize what's at risk and the things he risked there.
"You can continue to get in trouble and get cut, then nobody will want you."
It comes down to this for Wilson. "We drafted you and bred you, so now let's help him," he explained. "Let's help him as an organization to be better, to be a better person."
It makes sense. It also isn't that easy. Washington has to be willing to restructure his deal and earn less money. He is also still going to face discipline from the league related to his guilty plea to aggravated assault.
Can the Cardinals afford to keep him with the climate around the league surrounding domestic violence, especially after they were so quick to distance themselves after Jonathan Dwyer was charged with domestic violence?
Can they afford to have him return and play another partial season?
Can they afford not to bring him back because of his on-field playmaking? Head coach Bruce Arians said,"Obviously, the football player we would love to have back."
Can they afford to not to bring him back with the hole at inside linebacker?
Can they trust him?
Could the team survive a potential public relations disaster should Washington return and possibly see Darnell Dockett and Larry Fitzgerald leave?
I get the feeling, especially because of the football factor, he will get another chance here. He has to clear several hurdles. He has to be reinstated. But I like the idea of his returning and having to prove himself again to get his money.