Linebacker Daryl Washington signed a new six-year contract Thursday.
Back in the beginning of training camp, veteran safety Adrian Wilson reasoned his acceptance of a new contract in part to show younger players that they should want to remain a part of the franchise long-term.
One of the players was linebacker Daryl Washington. And while Wilson's message was delivered, Washington didn't need a lot of convincing.
"I talked to my agent and told him I wanted to be here a long time, even when I first came in," said Washington, recipient of a new six-year contract Thursday that puts him under wraps through the 2017 season. "Adrian Wilson was the first person I talked to and I talked to him about the things it took to stay in the league a long time, and that I wanted to be a Cardinal. I love the people who are here, and this is just a great feeling."
Financial terms were not announced and not immediately available. Washington had already been under contract through the 2013 season before the new deal was struck.
The contract was a great feeling for everybody, including a coaching staff that has watched Washington learn a new defensive scheme last year and blossom into a speedy and effective three-down linebacker.
Washington had a team-leading 111 tackles last season while piling up five sacks and 16 tackles for loss. He also had two interceptions (and dropped a couple of others) and batted down seven passes. His tackles for loss were the most for a Cardinal since defensive end Clyde Simmons had 17 in 1995.
He's been the player the Cards hoped for since they traded up to get him in the second round of the 2010 draft.
"He certainly hasn't let us down," coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
It hasn't been simple for Washington, who acknowledged his "head was spinning" last season when defensive coordinator Ray Horton began to install his plan. Washington came around, and now he's one of the puzzle pieces Horton is willing to move and use just about anywhere.
"I think I have a high IQ in this game, understanding how to play this game," Washington said. "It's (my) speed but people know what else I do, setting other people up to make plays. If they have to worry about me, put two people on me, then you have Paris Lenon, O'Brien (Schofield), Adrian Wilson, singled blocks to make plays. That happens, it's all good."
Washington knew about a potential new deal at the beginning of camp and expressed relief it was done before the season started.
"It shows they believe in me, they believe in my talent and the kind of character I have," Washington said.
General manager Rod Graves said in a statement successful teams consistently build through the draft and keep core players. Washington's contract is the second significant deal granted to young defenders, after the long-term pact for defensive end Calais Campbell this offseason.
The Cards have set that side of the team up for a transition, as veterans like Darnell Dockett and Wilson get to the later portions of their careers. Washington, though, shrugged that part of the contract talk away.
A mentor like Wilson isn't going anywhere yet.
"The older guys aren't getting any younger," Washington said, "but they don't seem any older either."