Daryl Washington suspension, implications

A four-game suspension for Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington gives the team something to think about when deciding whether to exercise a $10 million option bonus later in his contract.

It also means Washington, suspended under the NFL's substance-abuse policy, will miss the first four games of the Bruce Arians coaching era.

"Adversity and dealing with it is part of the business, but when it’s avoidable like this was, it’s particularly tough," Arians said in a statement released by the team. "One of the biggest things we preach is accountability; Daryl knows that and our team knows that. We will deal with this, and others will have to step up until he’s back. I’m confident they will."

Washington is facing the news directly.

"I was always taught that when you make a mistake, you admit it, learn from it and face whatever consequences there are," Washington said in a statement . "I take full responsibility and I understand that I let down my teammates, the organization and fans. I apologize for that, and promise that no one will work harder to make up for it."

The contract extension Washington signed during last season could average $8 million per year, but only if the team elects to pay that $10 million option bonus. Otherwise, Washington could become a free agent.

Washington is probably too talented to let walk over a single isolated incident. However, the equity that existed between Washington and the previous coaching staff is no longer relevant. Washington is starting fresh with Arians, and this is a bad way to start, particularly if this behavior reflects a pattern.

Update: I'm working to clarify exactly when that $10 million bonus is due, and whether a chance in the scheduled payment date was merely for salary-cap purposes or in relation to the suspension.