TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals released embattled linebacker Daryl Washington on Thursday, a few days after meeting with him for the first time since he was conditionally reinstated April 25 after an almost-three-year suspension.
“After meeting with Daryl Washington, we have collectively decided it is best to release Daryl and give him the opportunity to continue his career elsewhere,” the team said in a statement.
Team president Michael Bidwill, general manager Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians met with Washington earlier this week. Arians told ESPN on Wednesday that Bidwill would have the “final say.”
In a statement released to ProFootballTalk on Thursday, Washington thanked the Cardinals organization “for drafting and believing in me, and their continued support.”
“We’ve had some really positive and productive discussions this week, and at the end of the day we mutually agreed it was best for both sides to get a fresh start. I’m in the best shape of my life, and very much look forward to the next opportunity, where I will again play at an All-Pro level and help my team make a championship run,” he said.
Washington was suspended indefinitely on May 30, 2014, for multiple violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. That followed a four-game suspension to start the 2013 season for also violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
He also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in March 2014 in a case involving his ex-girlfriend. He served 10 months of probation after completing a 36-week domestic violence program and submitted to drug and alcohol testing without incident, according to court documents.
In a statement issued after his conditional reinstatement, Washington said he was “honored and humbled” to be back in the NFL.
“These last three years have been the most difficult of my life without the game I love so much,” he said. “That said, I’ve used this time to make tremendous strides as a man and have grown into a proud husband, father and contributing member of my community.”
Washington, 30, has 394 combined tackles, 18 sacks, 6 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles in four NFL seasons. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2012 when he posted career highs in tackles (134), sacks (9) and forced fumbles (2).
In September 2012, the Cardinals signed Washington to a six-year deal when he still had two years left on his rookie contract. Included in his new contract was a $10 million option bonus that the team picked up in March 2014, two months before his indefinite suspension was announced.
One reason Washington wasn’t cut during his suspension is the team believed it wouldn’t be able to recoup some of, if not all of, the bonus, given to Washington in two $5 million installments.
During his interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday, Bidwill said one of the primary takeaways he wanted from meeting with Washington was “that he’s accepted responsibility for what happened and what he has done.”
Washington was a second-round draft pick by the Cardinals out of TCU in 2010.