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Cardinals Release D.J. Swearinger

Safety had struggled since season began; Thompson rookies bid as replacements

Swearinger against Seahawks in home game 2019

D.J. Swearinger was supposed to be a key component of the Cardinals' secondary this season. Instead, he didn't make it into October.

The Cardinals cut the veteran safety Monday, four games into the season. Swearinger had not played well, but insisted last week he'd get better.

"I'll get back to the style of play of dominating and making plays on the ball like I once did," Swearinger said Friday.

According to Pro Football Focus, Swearinger's biggest issue was in coverage. PFF said Swearinger allowed a passer rating of 145.3 when he was targeted. (A perfect passer rating is 158.3.)

Coach Kliff Kingsbury said repeatedly "we're going to make decisions that are in the best interests of the organization" when asked about the move. He declined to get more detailed, although he specifically said Swearinger had not made any comments out of turn -- a big reason Swearinger had been cut by Washington last season.

Kingsbury did not name a specific replacement, saying the rookies Deionte Thompson and Jalen Thompson, along with recently signed veteran Chris Banjo could all step into Swearinger's spot. Kingsbury said he didn't think the role of Budda Baker "will shift too much."

Deionte Thompson, who has gotten more playing time over the last couple of games, has gotten the most defensive work so far this season as a third safety.

"One of the things I learned at Alabama, coach (Nick) Saban told me to always prepare as a starter, no matter if you are a '2' or a '3,' " Deionte Thompson said recently. "You always get ready to play because you never know what could happen. Injuries can occur, or some guys may be down."

Jalen Thompson came in late -- he was a supplemental draft pick in July -- but said he's comfortable if the Cards need him to step in for Swearinger.

"I feel like all of our DBs are ready," Thompson said Monday. "I'm pretty much caught up to everything by now. Now that I'm getting my chance, I could make something happen and see how I could hopefully help this team."

Swearinger had returned to the Cardinals in his second stint back on Christmas of 2018, when the Redskins cut him and the Cards claimed him on waivers. The hope was that he would recapture the ability he showed in 2016 for the Cardinals, which led to a nice free-agent contract in Washington. But Swearinger, who was scheduled to become a free agent after this season, struggled from the outset in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's system.


The Cardinals also re-signed wide receiver A.J. Richardson to the practice squad. Richardson was with the team in preseason before being released on final cuts. Wide receiver Johnnie Dickson (hamstring) was placed on practice squad/injured reserve.

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