Karlos Dansby sees the possibilities. Since being moved from the outside to the middle in the Cardinals’ linebacker group, he’s become a dominant player. And he’s about to be rewarded for it.
Formal talks now are under way between the Cardinals and Dansby for a contract extension, general manager Rod Graves said Wednesday.
Until now, Dansby and his agent, Kirk Wood, had said the talks had been infrequent and informal.
“Relaxed” was the phrase Dansby used after Sunday’s game at Cincinnati to describe the Cardinals’ approach to negotiations. Since then the pace has picked up.
Dansby and fellow linebacker Calvin Pace appear to be the team’s top priorities for contract extensions in the offseason, though, “Nothing is imminent at this point,” Graves said.
For Dansby, the move to the middle has gone so well you have to wonder why it wasn’t done before.
At 250 pounds, he’s stout enough to defend the run. At 6-foot-4, he’s rangy enough to make it tough for passers to throw over him.
And, as a former safety at Auburn — he switched to linebacker as a sophomore — he can catch the ball. He’s made three interceptions in the past two games.
Says Dansby, “The position change allows me to do a lot of things on the field. I’m getting a chance to really show my talents, show what I’ve really got.”
Coach Ken Whisenhunt made the switch after figuring the team was well stocked at the outside linebacker/defensive end slots with Chike Okeafor, Bertrand Berry and Calvin Pace.
In addition, “We felt the best position for Karlos was inside,” Whisenhunt said.
The results have been extraordinary. Despite missing two games with a knee sprain, Dansby — in addition to the three interceptions — ranks No. 2 on the team (behind Gerald Hayes) in tackles with 64. He also has 2 1/2 sacks, five passes defended and two forced fumbles.
“He’s unbelievable,” Whisenhunt said, saying Dansby has “certainly” played at a Pro Bowl level.
In addition to the position change, “I’m stronger, faster and smarter since I’ve come into the league,” Dansby says.
The team’s new, arduous strength and conditioning program “helped out tremendously,” he says. “I’m much stronger now.”
Regardless of the pace of contract talks, ”I’m going to continue to have fun, continue to play all out.
“I want to go the playoffs, rest up, then it will take care of itself.”
The Cardinals have said Dansby is among their core players whom they want to keep. And Dansby believes a deal will be reached.
“I definitely think it’s going to work itself out, if I continue to do what I’m doing, continue to play all out and be a team guy.
“Hopefully, they’ll make a decision and give me what I’m looking for … a long-term deal so I can be here.”