The Arizona Cardinals made a decision that had to be difficult. The team announced on Friday veteran defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was released, a move that saves the team $6.8 million in salary cap space for the coming season.
Despite the release, it doesn't completely shut the door on Dockett's playing in Arizona (for more than just one game) in 2015.
"We have been very clear about our feelings for Darnell and our desire to have him back," said Cardinals general manager Steve Keim. "After speaking with him and his representatives, we decided that this move today makes the most sense for both the team and the player and allows each to keep all of its options open."
Essentially, Dockett gets to see what is value is on the open market. The Cardinals likely already gave him an offer of some sort. If he can do better, he'll be gone. But if he can't do better, it sounds like both sides are open to a return. The team has been clear that they want him to retire a Cardinal. They have not said, unlike with Larry Fitzgerald, they don't want to see him in another uniform.
It wouldn't be the first time a player cut by the Cardinals returns soon thereafter. When offensive lineman Levi Brown was about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, he was released to avoid a huge salary cap hit, but re-signed just days later.
Drafted by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dockett has appeared in 158 regular season games in 10 seasons with the club and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007, '09, and '10. He missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury in practice on August 18.
Previous to last season, he missed only two games in 10 seasons.