It has been almost three full seasons since Daryl Washington has been able to play an NFL football game. Washington received his indefinite suspension from the NFL on May 30, 2014 after he served a four-game suspension in 2013. On April 25, 2017, he was finally reinstated.
He played his first three and three-quarter seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, who subsequently released him on May 11, 2017. Does he have a future in the NFL? Can he pick up where he left off?
He was a great, young player when he was on the field. In his lone 16-start season (2012), he compiled 134 tackles, 9 sacks, 1 pick, and 2 forced fumbles. He made the Pro Bowl that season, then dealt with a series of career changing suspensions.
Washington claims he’s in the best shape of his life, a common claim among players who are forced to step away from the game.
Now that he has a fresh start, where does he fit in best?
The short answer: any team that needs a middle or inside linebacker. He’s only 30 years old, and that’s after three years of rest. He should have a Grand Canyon sized chip on his shoulder, too. He will end up being a steal for whichever team he lands on this season.
- If Washington has enough in the tank to be “the guy” in the middle of a defense, then Oakland would be the best spot for him. We already know they take fliers on troubled players (Aldon Smith, Gareon Conley). Oakland employs a solid defensive front with DPOY Khalil Mack, Mario Edwards Jr., Bruce Irvin, and Justin Ellis. Add Washington in with them, a young secondary, and an offense that is within inches of being championship ready? This team could win a Super Bowl before they even move to Vegas.
- Just like with the Raiders, Washington would be joining a stellar defense that employs a DPOY in J.J. Watt, as well as a former no. 1 overall pick in Jadeveon Clowney. Although Houston seems set at inside linebacker with Benardrick McKinney and veteran Brian Cushing, Washington could easily replace Cushing in the starting lineup. Cushing had one of his worst seasons in 2016 and the team could be looking to upgrade if the opportunity fits. Houston’s defense is one of the best in the league, and they play in arguably the worst division in football, which should be attractive for a player like Washington. The catch: Houston’s offense is currently a question mark with a quarterback competition between Tom Savage and first-rounder Deshaun Watson.
- Washington would fit nicely with Jerry Jones and a star on his helmet. Dallas needs help on defense after this offseason. They lost three starters in the secondary, have a below average linebacking corps, and their pass rushers have dealt with suspensions recently. Washington would need to be a general in the middle of this defense. Is he ready to come back after a three-year hiatus and control a defense? Dallas was the epitome of an over achiever in 2016 on both sides of the ball. I can see the offense taking a step forward with the wunderkind QB and RB combo. The defense? It needs work. Washington can help.
- There’s really only one question left on this defense. The offense? A completely different story. Who will start next to C.J. Mosley? Zach Orr was phenomenal last year. Unfortunately, he had to retire due to health issues, which leaves a hole in the middle of the defense. Baltimore has added quite a few outstanding pieces to this defense this offseason. Dean Pees’ mouth has probably been watering throughout this entire offseason, beginning with the signings of Tony Jefferson, Brandon Carr, and Lardarius Webb, as well as the defense-heavy draft. Washington, who has had a domestic violence suspension, is a longshot to be signed by this team. But, for the sake of an attractive landing spot, Baltimore should be on Washington’s wish list.