Courtesy Kent Somers, The Arizona Republic
FLAGSTAFF - Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett isn't the type to ask where the lines of good taste, decorum and political correctness are located. And coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't the type of guy who minds pointing out when Dockett and other players have crossed those lines.
And that's fine with both men, who not only understand each other's position and personality, but have grown to enjoy them.
In Whisenhunt's eyes, Dockett has matured greatly over the past year. Oh, sure, there has been the occasional transgression - taking a shower over the Internet this spring, for instance - but Dockett has never done anything malicious, never hurt anyone but himself off the field.
"Darnell was obviously a highly emotional, highly intense player," Whisenhunt said. "There is a period where you both have to gain the respect of each other. I've asked Darnell to do some things since our first year and he's done them, besides play good football.
"When you have a player who is doing things right, who is helping young players . . . showing up every day to practice even when he's nicked up, there are a lot of things like that that have really earned my respect for Darnell. And, in turn, it makes you want to have that player in your program for a long time."
It's not coincidental that the Cardinals were ready to talk contract immediately after Dockett regularly attended off-season practices and workouts.
He didn't do that the previous two years because he was upset the club wouldn't give him more money. The team's stance was that it had extended Dockett's contract in 2006 and wasn't about to address a deal that didn't expire until after the 2012 season.
General Manager Rod Graves and Drew Rosenhaus, Dockett's agent, have had preliminary discussions about a new deal. Traditionally, the Cardinals wait until midseason to extend contracts, but Dockett's deal might be different.
At least Dockett thinks so.
"I'm not a money; I'm not a selfish guy," Dockett said. "I care about winning. So I'm able to come to work and prepare, like I got a game tomorrow. I believe in the organization and I'm pretty sure they'll take care of it sooner than a lot of people think."
Both sides would benefit from getting a deal done before the season ends. The Cardinals would be locking up a premier player in his prime. Dockett, 29, could get a last big payday that includes $25 million to $30 million guaranteed.
If the Cardinals have the franchise tag at their disposal, they could control Dockett's rights for three more seasons. By then, he'll be 32, and it's hard to envision him getting a long-term deal at that age.
So Dockett's best shot at huge money is with the Cardinals. Some have said he apparently realizes that and is following a template developed by safety Adrian Wilson: keep quiet about your contract and show up for work.
Dockett, however, said he's not following Wilson's lead. Dockett showed up to off-season work, he said, because he had lobbied heavily for outside linebacker Joey Porter to sign with the team.
Dockett thought it would have been hypocritical for him to stay on the East Coast, which he did the previous two years, while the guy he helped recruit, Porter, was in Arizona.
"What would it feel like, me getting you to come here, you come and then I get into my selfish mode and don't come and I'm texting you, 'How's it going?' " Dockett said.
"I wasn't taking no Adrian Wilson route. Adrian is his own man; I'm my own man."
Whatever his motivation, Dockett's attendance and diligent work made an impression on the Cardinals and their fans. There has been a groundswell of support from the public, and one fan at training camp distributed signs that said: "Extend 9-0."
He has another big booster in Whisenhunt, who enjoys life around Dockett "when he's not in the shower.
"I understand Darnell now, and I understand where his heart is and what he's trying to do. You are going to have to live with a few of those things as long as they don't cross the line. And I think Darnell understands that better.
"I'm at a really good place with Darnell and glad he's on our football team."
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/cardinals/articles/2010/08/11/20100811arizona-cardinals-darnell-dockett-contract.html#ixzz0wPhcFHCq