Around the NFC West: 1-900-DARNELL

Around the NFC West: Jan. 9, 2013

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett was one of the first NFL athletes I can recall using Twitter as a personal playground -- one without much of a filter.

I recall thinking initially that Dockett might become a distraction to the team if his R-rated tweets continued into the upcoming season. At one point, Dockett posted a link to video of himself taking a shower. That made waves and drew the attention of his head coach.

But as time passed and Twitter grew exponentially, the impact of any one tweet diminished significantly. Dockett blocked reporters covering the team from following his account, and most of us just lost interest.

What was it going to take for Dockett to become relevant again on Twitter?

We now have our answer. For Dockett, it was accidentally making public a tweet intended for Miss Alabama, one including his phone number and instructions to meet Dockett at a strip club following Alabama's victory over Notre Dame.

The timing was notable. Dockett was making headlines for the wrong reason just as the Cardinals were promoting Steve Keim to the vacant post of general manager.

I don't know what Keim thinks of Dockett, but his opinion of the former Pro Bowl defensive lineman presumably isn't trending in a positive direction.

One month ago, the team levied a six-figure fine against Dockett for alleged insubordination stemming from Dockett's refusal to let the New York Jets score for the purposes of getting the ball back to the Arizona offense.

Dockett turns 32 this offseason. His salary for 2013 is scheduled to be $4.45 million, with a chance to earn another $250,000 through a workout bonus. The deal carries $3 million in annual bonus-related hits against the salary cap. Ideally, Dockett would produce for the team for another couple of seasons.

Dockett dominated at times last season. He works hard, plays with passion and can still be a big asset for Arizona. But at a certain point, the baggage can outweigh what an older player offers on the field.

Keim and the Cardinals' next head coach will be the ones deciding when that time comes.