Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington already is suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Now he appears to have lost his spot on the Cardinals' first-team defense.
Although Washington doesn't believe his standing with the organization has changed, it certainly seems as if the Cardinals' coaching staff is sending a message in the wake of the linebacker's disastrous offseason. The Cardinals have to prepare for an absence that might extend beyond four games after Washington's recent arrest for domestic assault.
On the heels of a Pro Bowl season highlighted by a team-leading 134 tackles and nine sacks, Washington likely will be inserted back into the Cardinals' starting lineup once his suspension is lifted. Along with Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson, Washington comprises the backbone of a talented young defensive nucleus.
The offseason benching should serve as a reminder that even a budding star like Washington can't afford anymore off-the-field trouble with a $10 million option bonus due next year.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.