Waiting too long could work against the team, however.
Dockett has gone from taking Anquan Boldin's publicly indignant approach to patterning himself after Adrian Wilson. Boldin and Wilson are both hard-nosed, hard-working players. Boldin lost in the court of public opinion after teammate Larry Fitzgerald took over as the Cardinals' most productive and highest-paid receiver. Wilson kept a lower public profile and wound up getting the deal he wanted. The longer Dockett lets his play and work ethic do the talking, the more the burden shifts from Dockett to the Cardinals.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt's recent interview with XTRA910 radio in Phoenix -- one dissected for other purposes last week -- shows the Cardinals think Dockett is heading down the road Wilson took.
"When you go about talking about a player and a contract, and you are going to invest the type of money that we'll invest in Darnell, you've got to be sure that he is the right guy doing the right things for you," Whisenhunt told XTRA910. "And that is what I have seen from Darnell this spring and I think he understands that now."
Though still outspoken, mostly via his Twitter account, Dockett's hard work, Pro Bowl credentials and ongoing mentoring of first-round choice Dan Williams is doing his most effective talking. Dockett has been putting the pressure on Williams in the weight room.
"Darnell has taken Dan Williams in there and has just been killing him," Whisenhunt said. "Poor Dan -- I feel sorry for him because Darnell works out hard. But you know what Darnell said? This is a great example of a guy growing up and understanding. He says, 'We're going to need this guy at some point this year for us to win. We're going to have to count on him, so we are going to have to prepare him.' And to me, that is what being a pro is all about."
Dockett has put himself in position to get a new deal before his current one expires. Another Pro Bowl season would make it tough for the Cardinals to let him reach the final year of his deal. I'd expect an agreement before then.
"I have great respect for him because he is a very passionate player and he wants to win," Whisenhunt said. "We're going to get through this thing. We're going to get this thing with Darnell worked out. That is something that I think both sides want to do."