Top Five Linebacker now to get Paid Like It: Standout Dansby gets Tagged by Cards


The Auburn Tiger alum is in an elite class of LB’s and now will get paid like an elite LB based on his performance on the field anchoring Arizona’s defensive unit.

The move to tag Dansby has been expected and comes a week before the NFL’s deadline for naming franchise players. The “non-exclusive” franchise designation allows Dansby to receive offers from other teams. If the Cardinals choose not to match, they would obtain two first-round draft picks as compensation. But no team is going to be dish out that high of a price to pay.

In terms of contract, Dansby has been offered a one-year tender of $8.065 million, the average of the five highest-paid linebackers from last season. He’s guaranteed that money if he signs the deal. In what he means to do the team, there will not be for one second that I think he does not deserve the right to be paid like this – being the top-five LB he is. Dansby, a 6-foot 4 inch, 250 pound monster, can be described as a wrecking ball going from sideline to sideline as he has been a force to be reckoned with consistently since his rookie year of ’04. The moment he stepped out onto the gridiron he displayed his eye-opening skills, delivering his powerful hits on opposing ball carriers, distributing his share of big time plays, and he also has demonstrated that he will have his part intimidating those who dare to go over the middle, a place where he roams and calls home each Sunday.

The Cardinals could have chosen to use the exclusive designation, which would have prevented other teams from making Dansby an offer. That would have increased the tender to the average of the top-five salaries at end of the restricted free-agency period in mid-April.

“It’s certainly something we anticipated,” Dansby’s agent, Kirk Wood, said of the franchise tag. “We have been communicating with the Cardinals, and our goal is to continue to talk and visit with them.” To Cardinals General Manager Rod Graves, placing the franchise tag on Dansby, 26, confirms the team’s belief that Dansby is “an elite player and one of the top players in the league, in our opinion. He’s certainly very valuable to our franchise.”

Under NFL rules, the Cardinals and Dansby have until July 15 to agree to a new contract. If they don’t, Dansby must play under the one-year contract, with the club guaranteeing the $8.065 million. Dansby also has the option to sign the tender at any time, and the club also could withdraw it, making Dansby a free agent. Neither is likely to happen. As a free agent, Dansby cannot participate in minicamps or training camps until he signs a contract.

“That’s not something we need to do real quick, I don’t think,” Wood said of signing the tender.

The Cardinals and Wood have talked about a new deal for months but remain far apart in their assessment of Dansby’s worth. Wood is believed to be looking for a contract close to what the Patriots’ Adalius Thomas and the Seahawks’ Julian Peterson signed in recent years: an average of around $7 million a year and $17 million to $20 million guaranteed. That deal would make Dansby the team’s highest-paid defensive player, and there should be no hesitation if the Cardinals put Dansby in that category yet, he may already have placed himself there based on his production.

He has been a highly productive player in four years, and enjoyed his best season in 2007, moving from the outside to the inside. He finished the season with 117 tackles, a career-high 3 1/2 sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

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