Free-agent-to-be linebacker Karlos Dansby is expecting to remain a Cardinal in 2014.
In a month, free agency begins.
Right now, it's no lock that Karlos Dansby will be under contract with the Cardinals by then.
But the linebacker and free-agent-to-be, regardless of whether a new contract is reached at that point, remains optimistic he will stay for the 2014 season.
"I definitely expect to be an Arizona Cardinal next year," Dansby said during an interview on Sirius XM NFL radio Monday night. "We don't have long here (before free agency) so we'll get to talking and try and hammer something out."
The Cardinals want him back. Why wouldn't they, after he had a career-high four interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), 6½
sacks (second-best in his career), a career-best 21 passes defensed and was credited by coaches with 135 total tackles.
But, after Dansby made $2.25 million last season, finding the right contract will be paramount for both sides. Dansby, not surprisingly, wants a raise and a long-term deal. General Manager Steve Keim will be careful not to hamstring his club as he works toward the bigger salary cap cleanup he has undertaken since being promoted.
Under that framework, megadeals aren't coming to players – even productive ones – who will turn 33 in November, as Dansby will.
It doesn't hurt that Dansby is already coming off an offseason of realization, after he was surprised in getting cut by the Dolphins and then finding a tepid market for his services. He didn't sign his one-year contract with the Cardinals until May, after the draft. At the time, Dansby seemed to understand his circumstances within the league had changed.
"The numbers situation right now with the new CBA is totally different," Dansby said then. "The numbers have changed, they flipped, and you have to make the best decision for you."
That understanding should help with the current negotiations. Dansby is a very good fit alongside Daryl Washington at inside linebacker in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles' scheme. And Dansby benefits in a defense where teams often key on Washington.
Now, the Cardinals and Dansby have to make the money work. Even if that doesn't happen by March 11, the two sides proved last year they could still come to an agreement later in the offseason.
Dansby's confidence, even as he gets in the latter years of his career, remains enormous. He not only sees a repeat of the best season in his career, but an improvement in 2014.
"I've got some things up my sleeve to solidify myself as the best linebacker in the league, period," Dansby said. "I let it slip through my fingers last season. I won't let it happen again."