(Reuters) - Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Daryl Washington has been suspended for at least a year for violating the National Football League's substance abuse policy, the league said on Friday.
Washington, whose suspension begins immediately, missed the first four games of last season for a previous violation of the substance abuse policy and was also sentenced in April to one year probation for assaulting a former girlfriend.
"It's completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position," Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said in a statement. "We all know what the consequences are and will deal with them.
"From a personal standpoint, our hope is that this suspension will give Daryl the opportunity to accept the necessary help and guidance to get his life back on track and we will certainly support him however we can."
Washington, taken by Arizona in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, was a key member on one of the league's top defenses in the 2013 season, recording 81 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in 12 games.
His absence leaves Arizona with another big hole to fill with Karlos Dansby having signed with Cleveland as a free agent.
"As it pertains to our team, our approach is the same as it's always been: next man up," said Keim. "We talk a lot about how critical depth is to a team because situations always arise where you lose players, whether by injury or other circumstances such as this one.
"One player’s absence is another’s opportunity."
The Cardinals open their 16-game 2014 regular season on Sept 8 and close out the campaign on Dec. 28.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue