The one-year-minimum suspension for Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington means that previously he had been in Stage 3 of the substance-abuse program. Which means that he was subject to up to 10 drug tests per months. Which means that he was one failed test away from a minimum one-year absence.
Which means the Cardinals knew. Which means their decision to trigger a $10 million option bonus earlier this year was confusing, to say the least.
The good news for the Cardinals is that have paid only $5 million of the money so far. The better news is that they can keep $2.5 million of that money with Washington gone for 2014.
The good news for Washington is that he can earn back the $2.5 million at the back end of his contract, since the entire deal by rule tolls for a year. Which means that he’s now signed through 2018 instead of 2017.
If he’s never reinstated, the Cardinals can keep the $5 million they haven’t paid and, in theory, try to get $5 million back. But if it ever comes to that, it will mean that the Cardinals will have never gotten Washington him back.
Either way, Washington has 10 million reasons to keep his nose (and urine) clean for the next year, so that he can get back to the league and start earning money he already has been paid — and will start losing at a rate of $2.5 million per year.