PHOENIX (AP) The NFL has suspended Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker DarylWashington for one year for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
The punishment, announced Friday, was for substance abuse and did not mention his recent guilty plea to assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
Washington, in a statement released by his agent, says the penalty was for marijuana, and that he takes responsibility for the violation. He says he 'is committed to making changes' in his life that will allow him to return to the NFL.
Washington, considered among the best in the NFL at his position, was suspended for the first four games of last season for violating the substance abuse policy.
'It is completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position,' Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said in a statement released by the team. 'We all know what the consequences are and will deal with them.'
Washington, the team leader in tackles in 2011 and 2012, will lose $2.9 million salary due to the suspension, but he's hardly in financial trouble.
In March, Arizona exercised a $10 million option to keep him on the roster. Washington received $5 million then and the deals calls for him to get the other $5 million next March.
With the loss of inside linebacker Karlos Dansby to free agency, the Cardinals find themselves without the dynamic combination that was a big part of their strong defense last season.
Second-year player Kevin Minter is slotted to take Dansby's place. Just what the team will do to try to replace Washington is unclear.
'Our approach is the same as it's always been: next man up,' Keim said. 'We talk a lot about how critical depth is to a team because situations always arise whether by injury or other circumstances such as this one.
'One player's absence is another's opportunity. That approach has served us well in the past and we will rely on it now.'
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.