The Pittsburgh Steelers have one hole in their linebacking core. Something that newly released, Daryl Washington may be the perfect fit for.
Entering what will be only his sixth year in the NFL, Daryl Washington hits the free agent market after being released by the Arizona Cardinals. After missing the entire 2016 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Arizona decided the young backer wasn’t worth the trouble.
Pittsburgh needs a proven inside linebacker with some veteran experience. They aren’t looking for someone older, just a player who’s already developed. Despite Washington’s troubles, he’s the exact player on the field that the Steelers are searching for.
Although the Steelers probably don’t want another player with off the field issues, seeing they already have to worry about Martavis Bryant, Washington seems pretty positive he’s a changed man. In a recent interview with the Arizona Republic, Washington was asked what he would say to a new general manager. In the answer, he made it clear he’s no longer the troubled man he once was.
"“I’d let them know some of the experiences that I’ve been through. This journey and this process that I’ve been able to go on. I’d just let them know and look them directly in the eyes and tell them, ‘You’re not only going to get the best football player, but I guarantee you’re going to get the best person. You’re going to get the best role model, and at this point in my career, I’m here to play football, I’m here to win, I’m here to give back to the community. I’m here to do everything that I can, and work as hard as I can and be in that positive light which I once was. You’re going to get the best person. The best of both worlds – the best player on the field and the best person. I think everything else will take care of itself.”"
So, acting as if Washington has indeed changed, Pittsburgh should consider him. Despite his problems, he’s the best linebacker on the market. If he never missed playing time in Arizona, he probably would’ve never been released in the first place.
He’s available, though, meaning Pittsburgh should at least consider him. If they bring him in for an interview and feel as though he’s actually changed, giving him a chance would not be a bad idea.
On top of it all, Washington isn’t worth much money. With two domestic violence cases and a substance abuse violation behind him, he’s nothing more than a two-year, small money contract. For someone who basically needs two years just to prove himself again, the Steelers would be getting a steal to complete their defense.
He’d have no more than one opportunity, obviously. Fans would not be huge on him joining the team, but on the field, he’d be a playmaker, and if he’s right about being physically ready, he’s easily a 100-plus tackle player.
It’s a matter of how much trouble they’re willing to bring to the team. Pittsburgh has never been a franchise that has tolerated off the field issues. But if they believe Washington could be the missing piece to their Super Bowl run, considering him is not a terrible idea.
So, despite everything he’s done wrong, the Steelers need to at least think about it. If they believe he may have changed, giving him a chance isn’t a bad idea. Best case scenario, they form one of the best linebacker cores in the NFL.
Yes, there’s a worst case scenario too, but we all know what that is.
The risk is enormous with Washington, but if he proves everyone wrong, the Steelers win free agency and add a lot of pressure to opposing offenses.
Something they would’ve loved to have last season.