In a surprise move here in Phoenix, the Arizona Cardinals have decided to part ways with defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Dockett, 33, is 6’4 and 290 pounds. The first pick in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dockett has been a model of consistency for the Cardinals. In ten seasons from 2004 to 2013, Dockett only missed two games. In that amount of time Dockett has amassed 462 tackles, 40.5 sacks for 271 yards lost, four interceptions, eight forced fumbles and 18 passes defensed.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Dockett quickly established himself as a team leader and has been a difference maker on defense. He has been a team captain for many seasons and disruptive force from the nose tackle position.
So why did the Cardinals cut him?
Dockett suffered a torn ACL that caused him to miss the 2014 season. He will be 34 when the season starts and probably most importantly, cutting Dockett frees 7.5 million in cap space for the Cardinals. After resigning Larry Fitzgerald to a 2-year/22 million deal, the Cardinals could use that space to sign other free agents.
Should the San Diego consider signing Dockett?
The Chargers could do a lot worse than Dockett. The responsibility of the nose tackle is to be a run-stuffer first and foremost. Being able to generate 41 sacks from that position is very impressive and a testament to his athleticism. The ACL injury is very worrisome. Will he return at 100%? Will he be as effective coming off his first major injury and rehab?
The Chargers owe it to themselves to give the man a workout and see for themselves what he still has in the tank. Living in Phoenix, i’ve seen a lot of Dockett and endorse his transition into lightning bolts if his health checks out. He was an emotional leader for the Cardinals and his experience will be useful to the up and coming defensive linemen like Attaochu, Ingram and Te’o.
Nose tackle has been a turnstile since Antonio Garay left town. The addition of Dockett provides a proven, solid, consistent playmaker at the position and allows depth as well. Sean Lissemore was a decent player at the position and we’re still waiting to see what Ryan Carrethers will be able to do once he returns from injury. The Chargers could also draft and have time to groom a blue chip nose tackle with Dockett in place anchoring the middle.
Keep in mind the Chargers finished 26th against the run last season. In the last five seasons the Chargers have finished in the top 20 against the rush once. The Cardinals finished in the top 20 four times, twice in the top 5 with Dockett manning the middle. Shoring up the nose tackle position goes a long way to achieving a stronger, run-stuffing defensive unit. In my view, Telesco should give Dockett an incentive rich two-year deal similar to what he gave Dwight Freeney. The deal would be cap friendly and allow the Chargers even more cap flexibility.
What do you think? Should the Chargers sign Darnell Dockett?
The Greg One