Retired Pro Bowl Cardinals Defenders Sound Off on Team

Darnell Dockett

Getty Images Darnell Dockett celebrates after intercepting a pass by Alex Smith in 2009.

Over the past 15 years, big-name defensive players have left the Arizona Cardinals and some of them still have gripes with the organization. Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson has been vocal about the Cardinals’ upper management, specifically general manager Steve Keim, and New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu voiced his displeasure toward the handling of his contract.

There’s now more animosity from former Cardinals defenders, but now it’s from players who contributed to the 2008 NFC Championship team.

In response to a June 23 Instagram post from retired Pro Bowler Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, retired defensive end Darnell Dockett a teammate with Rodgers-Cromartie and played with the Cardinals from 2004 to 2014, replied to the post, saying “Can’t believe we trade you for Kolb sorry ass!! Smfh … Should of kept us togther . We would win that damn division four 4-5 straight years.”

Less than five minutes later, retired defensive back Antrel Rolle, who played with both of them in Arizona, said, “They sorry a** let everyone walk . . . Dansby Quan Me DRC smh,” retired to retired ex-Cardinals such as outside linebacker Karlos Dansby, Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin, Rodgers-Cromartie and himself. Other than Rodgers-Cromartie, each player mentioned bolted to a different team in free agency. The Cardinals traded Rodgers-Cromartie along with a second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Kevin Kolb. Kolb ended up being a disappointment, while Rodgers-Cromartie would get another Pro Bowl nod and one second-team All-Pro.

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Rolle’s Gripe With Cardinals

Even though Dockett criticized the Cardinals for trading Rodgers-Cromartie for Kolb, he stayed on the team for 10 years. He signed a six-year, $56 million extension in 2010 and finished with three Pro Bowls in his Cardinals tenure.

Rolle, however, lasted just four seasons with the Cardinals. He was the team’s first-round pick in 2005 and made the transition from cornerback to safety in 2008. After making his first Pro Bowl in 2009, Rolle didn’t want to come back to Arizona because he didn’t want to play for then-head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who he said didn’t believe in him early in his career.

“There wasn’t anything personal, but it was personal,” Rolle said in June 2021 on the “All Things Covered” podcast with former Cardinals cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden. “I said if I ever got the chance, one day I’m going to make him beg me. So when that free agency came around, I got my wish.”

Rolle would go on to sign a five-year, $37 million contract with the New York Giants. That deal made him the highest-paid safety in league history.

Dansby was another Cardinals defender who signed a large contract after being drafted by Arizona. The 2004 second-round pick signed with the Miami Dolphins to a five-year, $43 million contract, which made him the richest inside linebacker at the time. Unlike Rolle, Dansby returned to the Cardinals a second time in 2013 and a third time in 2017 before retiring.

Boldin’s Situation

Boldin had five of his seven 1,000-yard seasons with the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald and Boldin were a dynamic duo with quarterback Kurt Warner at the helm. During Boldin’s tenure in Arizona, the Cardinals had two division titles and a Super Bowl appearance.

There were also sour feelings from Boldin, who felt the Cardinals had promised to redo his contract. He was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2010, where he’d later win a Super Bowl.

In September 2021, Boldin appeared on Arizona’s Sports Station 98.7 and confronted the supposed bad blood between him and the team.

He told “Wolf & Luke” that he had no problems with the Cardinals organization.

“From my half, there is no bad blood, there is no bad feelings,” Boldin said.

Boldin also ran into former Cardinals general manager Rod Graves, who apologized for “some of the things that happened when I was there.” Graves was the Cardinals’ general manager from 2003 to 2012.

Boldin joined 25 other players under consideration for the Hall of Fame Class of 2022.

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