Ernie Sims (52) talks to fellow linebackers Larry Foote (50), Lorenzo Alexander (97) and Kevin Minter (51) during Tuesday's OTA.
Ernie Sims doesn't just have a job, but an opportunity.
After lukewarm interest from teams at the start of free agency, the eight-year veteran linebacker signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals on Tuesday. His addition came in the wake of the year-long suspension handed to star linebacker Daryl Washington, which left a void in the middle of the defense.
Sims was initially happy to simply find a landing spot this offseason, but Washington's absence
gives him a legitimate shot at playing time. Kevin Minter is penciled in at one starting spot and Larry Foote is running with the first unit at the other, but Sims could be in the mix if he performs well leading up to the season.
"They already have some stellar linebackers as is with Foote and Minter, but they like what I bring to the table," Sims said. "I told them I'd be willing to do anything I can to help this team win."
Sims played the past two seasons with the Cowboys, where he started 12 of 22 games and accumulated 86 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
The 29-year-old was the ninth overall selection by the Lions in 2006 – one pick ahead of the Cardinals' choice of quarterback Matt Leinart. He averaged 123.7 tackles while starting every
game in the first three seasons of his career. The Cardinals are Sims' fifth team after also playing with the Colts and Eagles.
While Sims' natural position is outside linebacker, he moved inside with the Cowboys when injuries hit, and he's expected to stay there with the Cardinals, who have more depth at outside linebacker.
"Obviously I'm not in as much space as I'm typically used to at my usual 4-3 Will linebacker position, but it's just different keys," Sims said. "At the end of the day, it's just 'Xs' and 'Os.' I've got to go out there and perform."
Sims stuck close to inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell at Tuesday's OTA, absorbing as much information as he could.
"There are a lot of things I need to catch up on, but it felt good to get acclimated with my teammates and coaches," he said.
Washington finished last season with 81 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in 12 games. He is the only player in the NFL to register 300 tackles and 15 sacks over the past three seasons, and Sims knows the difficulty of replacing that production.
"Daryl Washington is a hell of a linebacker," Sims said. "It's going to be hard to replace such talent like that. But like I said, I think this organization is doing a good job of bringing in good talent. They already have talent in-house, and adding me to the linebacker corps, I think it's going to be really good."
Images of linebacker Ernie Sims, who the Cardinals signed to a one-year deal on Tuesday.