From Comcast SportsNetTEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals and inside linebacker Daryl Washington have agreed on a six-year contract.The Cardinals had targeted the third-year pro throughout training camp as the next player to get a new deal. A second-round draft pick -- 47th overall -- out of TCU in 2010, Washington led the team in tackles last season with 111."I feel really good, really good," he said after practice on Thursday. "I'm glad it was able to get done before the season, sooner than later. I feel real good about the decision, about my agent Jordan Woy and the organization. I told them I wanted to be here for a long time and I'm glad it got done."Terms weren't disclosed but the deal contains guaranteed money, a pay raise over the next two seasons with a team option bonus in 2014.Washington, known for his extreme speed at a critical position in Arizona's 3-4 scheme, had 16 tackles for loss last season, the most by an Arizona player since 1995. He was one of five players in the NFL in 2011 with at least five sacks and two interceptions.He had two years left on the contract he signed as a rookie."It just shows they believe in me, they believe in my talent," Washington said. "It shows the kind of person I am, the kind of character that I have. I'm just excited right now, very excited."He joins defensive end Calais Campbell as players who signed long-term deals with Arizona in recent months."It just shows that they've got two potential great players for a long period of time," Washington said. "We're looking to really take over the defense and really show the organization that we're worth the pay."He said the contract does not create more pressure for him to prove he's worth it."It's more of a challenge," Washington said, "to go out there and play as well as they expect me to play. But I expect that of myself."Coach Ken Whisenhunt said "it's great when you have a young player that has made the strides that Daryl has.""We thought highly of him before we drafted him and he certainly hasn't let us down," Whisenhunt said, "so to know that he's going to be here for a number of years was a great thing."Washington has plenty of room for improvement."I think to continue on that upward scale is the next step for him," Whisenhunt said. "He learned the defense, understood what he had to do in the defense. He's been an explosive player, a fast player. When he knows what he's doing he's hard to block with the speed that he's got. He's all over the place and I think that just getting more and more comfortable in this defense and understanding where he has to be, he can get there fast, and that helps."The Cardinals had their eye on Washington throughout his college career "on a very good defense" at TCU, the coach said."For the fit in what we're trying to get done defensively, he has all the things that you like to see," Whisenhunt said. "He's smart, he's fast, he thumps a lot more than you think he would based on his size (6-foot-2, 230 pounds). He can cover, he can get down the field. All those things to play that linebacker position, a three-down linebacker, make him very valuable."Just his work ethic, that's one of the things that you look for in some of these young players, if they're going to be a leader, if they're going to be one of the guys that you count on defensively, they've got to be the right kind of guy, and Daryl is that."He is among five players from Arizona's 2010 draft class who will start in Sunday's season opener against Seattle.Campbell was elated to see Washington get the deal."He deserved it. He's definitely a great player," Campbell said. "I'd love to play with him a lot of years because he's going to make me look good and make all kinds of plays."Campbell said the Cardinals were smart to sign Washington now because he would have been a lot more expensive after this season."Because he's going to have a great year," Campbell said. "I'm predicting him to be All-Pro."
The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.
That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?
Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.
For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016.
In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it.
Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.
I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.
To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.
Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will.
More offseason questions:
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!
There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans.
Doctson looks ready pic.twitter.com/opUrNtdInQ— ceroy (@ceroy16) February 23, 2017
Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.
His rookie year, however, was a different matter.
The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.
A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!