Cardinals place franchise tag on linebacker Dansby
The move means Dansby has been offered a one-year deal worth just over $8 million, the average salary of the five highest-paid linebackers in the NFL last season. The Cardinals can continue to negotiate a long-term deal through July 15. If Dansby signs an offer sheet from another team, Arizona can match it or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
General manager Rod Graves called applying the franchise tag "a formality."
"It allows us to retain his rights to some degree and continue to negotiate with him for a long-term deal," Graves told The Associated Press.
He said he is optimistic a multiyear agreement can be reached. Graves said he spoke with Dansby's agent Kirk Wood on Thursday.
"As I've said before, my discussions with Kirk Wood have been favorable," Graves said. "There was no surprise on either side, and we anticipated it even as far back as a month ago."
Dansby led the team in tackles with 117 despite missing two games because of injury. He also had 3½ sacks, three interceptions and four forced fumbles.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound player moved from outside linebacker to inside under new coach Ken Whisenhunt last season to make better use of his speed and playmaking ability. A second-round draft pick out of Auburn in 2004, Dansby has 382 tackles in 58 NFL games.
The Cardinals were reluctant to sign Dansby to an extension before last season because of his history of injuries, but were not going to allow him to leave after his strong 2007 season. The Cardinals last used their franchise tag in 2002 on safety Kwame Lassiter.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press