In order to save some cap room the Arizona Cardinals just announced the release of DT Darnell Dockett.
Dockett, a three time Pro Bowler, is coming off a season in which he missed the entire year with an ACL injury and simply wasn't worth the $9.8 million cap hit retaining him would cost Arizona. Dockett has been on the roster since 2004, and it's a sign of respect for the Cardinals to cut him early so he can test his value on the open market once free agency opens on March 10th.
Anybody who has seen Dockett play knows that the man is an absolute monster. Up until 2014, he had only missed two games in in ten year career and was a staple along the Cardinal defensive line ever since they drafted him in the third round of the 2004 draft. However, he will be 34 by the time September rolls around, and for a man who weighs almost 300 pounds, there is just no guarantee that he'll be able to bounce back to form.
From a Patriots standpoint, Dockett represents one of those opportunities where an older, proven veteran looking to play for a contender takes a team-friendly, prove-it deal laden with incentives. This is exactly the kind of player that New England has taken a flyer on in the past, and while the results have been mixed, rarely does bringing in a proven veteran for low money end up screwing them down the road. Dockett would fit in quite well along New England's front line, and he has shown prowess as both a pass rusher and run stuffer. Furthermore, the talent currently on the roster means that he wouldn't be required to play every down. With Vince Wilfork also getting up there in age, managing a snap count is going to be a factor going forward, and so getting versatile, experienced guys to round out the squad is going to be important.
But would the Patriots even want someone like Dockett? He definitely fits the bill regarding what kind of player they look for, and depth along the defensive line is certainly an issue. However, the question is whether the team will be looking to add that depth with younger players as opposed to aging veterans who don't have many years left in the league. Plus, there is also a legitimate chance that Dockett returns to Arizona on a restructured contract that is a little more cap-friendly, so it might not even be an issue.
Obviously a lot to do in-house before making any decisions of this nature. But players are starting to get cut, which means it's time to start thinking about who to bring in outside the organization in addition to retaining those core guys.