TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -The Arizona Cardinals don't intend to let big-play linebacker Karlos Dansby get away when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season.
If they can't re-sign him, expect the Cardinals to use the franchise tag to force him to stay.
``Karlos is a valued player and he's recognized as being one of our core players,'' general manager Rod Graves said on Thursday. ``It's our intent to do everything we can to try to keep him here.''
Dansby, who said he expects to be back next year, didn't mind the prospect of becoming a franchise player.
``I think it would be an honor,'' he said. ``If that's the steps I have to take in order to get where I want to go, that's fine.''
If Dansby gets the exclusive franchise tag, he would have no choice but to remain under contract with Arizona. He would receive the average one-year salary of the five highest-paid linebackers in the league. Last season, that was $7.2 million.
Dansby is thought to want much more in a long-term deal, and he said the sides were ``not very close.''
Graves said contract talks have been sporadic.
``But I definitely assume that's going to pick up immediately after the season,'' he said.
Dansby's agent Kirk Wood did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Shifted from outside linebacker to the middle by new coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff, Dansby is having the best season in a pro career disrupted by injuries. Even though he missed two games with a knee injury, Dansby leads the team in tackles with 112, 81 solo. He has three interceptions, eight passes defended, four forced fumbles, 3 1/2 sacks, two quarterback pressures and two quarterback hits.
He didn't make the Pro Bowl, but he believes he should have.
``I made a lot of big plays, flying around, just being electrifying. That's what I call it,'' he said. ``I think it was definitely a Pro Bowl season.''
Against St. Louis on Oct. 7, Dansby had a career-high 17 tackles, 13 unassisted. He was NFC defensive player of the week after intercepting two passes and forcing a fumble in Arizona's victory over Detroit on Nov. 11.
Concern about injuries kept the Cardinals from seriously pursuing contract talks after last season. Dansby missed all of training camp and the season opener a year ago with toe and leg injuries. Then-coach Dennis Green once intimated that Dansby wasn't working hard enough.
Injuries kept him out of three other games in 2006.
``People may ask, 'well, why did we wait this long to try to get Karlos under contract,''' Graves said. ``It, quite frankly, was questions about his durability. But we also recognized that whenever he was healthy, he was an impact player.''
The durability concerns have eased, Graves said, but he wants the issue to be addressed in any new contract
``He did miss some games for us, and I think from a contractual standpoint that will be something we would want to focus on is play time and that sort of thing,'' he said.
Whisenhunt is counting on Dansby.
``Certainly there were questions about his role this year, and he's been very productive,'' Whisenhunt said. ``I anticipate he'll be a very important part of what we want to do defensively from this point forward.''

Recent NFL Discussions

SUPER BOWL PLAY on Mon, Feb 2017 by MichaelF12
2017 NFL Draft Props on Fri, Feb 2017 by Blade
Handicapping Week 1 on Fri, Feb 2017 by Blade
Blade what time do you get up on Thu, Feb 2017 by Blade
VIR- V TECH GAME on Sun, Feb 2017 by Timmy1961

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Tony Romo Next Team Prop Odds Which team will Tony Romo play for when the 2017 NFL regular season begins? Oddsmakers have weighed in.
Thumbnail Taylor could be fit in Cleveland Could current Bills Tyrod Taylor be a fit for the quarterback-needy Browns next season?
Thumbnail Palmer, Fitz both returning for Cards The Arizona Cardinals will have their starting quarterback back for 2017, as Carson Palmer confirmed he will return to play next season.
Thumbnail AFC Championship Odds In no surprise, the Patriots are favored to win the 2018 AFC Conference Championship over the Steelers and the rest of the field.
Thumbnail 2018 NFC Conference Title Odds The Falcons may be the defending NFC champions but it's the Cowboys that are favored to win the title in 2018.

NFL Team Pages