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Darnell Dockett contract: No deal is imminent, but team, DT want a resolution to remain a Cardinal

Steve Keim says Dockett wants to stay in Arizona.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The contract issue that is looming large for the Arizona Cardinals right now is the deal for defensive tackle Darnell Dockett.

He is due $6.5 million and will hold a salary cap charge of $9.8 million. If the Cardinals are to be aggressive in free agency, it is one of the contracts that needs to be addressed.

According to general manager Steve Keim, who was a guest on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, nothing is imminent, but he hopes a deal can be done and he knows Dockett intends on staying.

"I had a conversation with Darnell directly and he made it very clear that he wants to remain a Cardinal," Keim said. "It's no different from any negotiation; it takes two sides to come to an agreement where both sides are happy.

"It can take a couple days, it could take a few weeks. Hopefully we'll get something in place."

Dockett's agent is Drew Roenhaus, known as one of the tougher negotiators in the game.

It is unsure what approach the Cardinals are taking. Keim says the team would like Dockett to retire a Cardinal. As a player who will turn 34 this season, that can't be too far off, so the idea might be to extend his contract out a little.

Dockett criticized former teammate Karlos Dansby for "chasing money" instead of "chasing a ring" last offseason. However, Dockett probably will not get a big payday, even if cut.

For Dockett and his agent, the sticking point is probably the actual money he gets this year. He is due $6.5 million. The issue in part is no matter what the Cardinals do, there is $3 million in prorated old money.

What will it take?

How about a three-year deal, where the third year voids? Give him $5 million in a signing bonus. Pay him $1.5 in salary in 2014. He gets all the $6.5 he was due to receive. That would reduce his cap hit to $6.17 million on the season. Pay him $2 million in 2016. His cap hit is $3.67 million. The 2017 year voids and leaves the Cardinals with $1.67 million in dead money.

Of course, the Cardinals could simply move on. It would save the team $6.8 million in cap space. They got the same production in terms of statistics in 2014 from Frostee Rucker, who made about $1 million.

However, cutting ties with Dockett might have locker room implications. Patrick Peterson said it would be BS if Dockett doesn't return. Lorenzo Alexander referred to him a the "dog" every defense needs to have.

With an inexperienced new defensive coordinator, having a guy like Dockett on board and buying in would make the transition easy.

The Cardinals have one legacy player contract already in Larry Fitzgerald. Will the team need to make the tough decision to move on, rather than create another legacy contract, paying Dockett more than he could get elsewhere?

The Cardinals have vowed to be aggressive in free agency. Can they do that without getting significant cap savings from Dockett's contract?