D.J. Swearinger is heading back to Arizona after being claimed off waivers from the Washington Redskins, the Cardinals announced Tuesday.
Swearinger broke the news earlier Monday on social media, posting a photo on Instagram of himself in a Cardinals uniform from when he played for the team in 2015 and 2016.
He added a caption referencing his split with Washington, reading, in part: “I Gave That Organization My Heart And Soul And They Spit In My Face For Giving My Opinion Only To Better The Team!! Right Wrong Or Indifferent I’ve Found My Peace And Learned From It And I Am So Excited To Go Back To The Sunny Desert Arizona Like I Never Left!! I’m Baaaaacckkkk!!!!”
Swearinger, 27, had three interceptions, nine passes defensed and 73 tackles in 20 games (13 starts) over parts of two seasons with the Cardinals. He left as a free agent in March 2017, signing a three-year, $13.5 million deal with Washington.
Arizona owes Swearinger — a Pro Bowl alternate in the midst of a career season — less than $200,000 for the rest of this year’s salary and has him under contract for $4.25 million in 2019.
With the NFL’s worst record (3-12), the Cardinals have the league’s top waiver priority. It was unclear if other teams also put in a claim on the safety.
Washington released Swearinger on Monday, two days after he bashed defensive coordinator Greg Manusky following the team’s loss to the Tennessee Titans. Among other things, Swearinger called one of Manusky’s play-calling “horrible” and said the team should have been more aggressive, adding Manusky made it too easy on Titans backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden told reporters Sunday he was disappointed in Swearinger’s comments — after the two had talked previously about keeping team issues in-house — and planned to meet with the safety on Monday to discuss punishment.
Swearinger revealed Monday on 106.7 The Fan that Gruden called him into his office and informed him of his release.
“I’m peaceful about it,” Swearinger told the radio station. “I don’t regret nothing, because I know I gave 100 percent from my heart.”
Swearinger has played for four NFL teams in six career seasons despite earning a starting role in five of those campaigns. Known for his outspokenness, he offered more veiled criticism of Manusky at times earlier this season.
Swearinger had four interceptions and 10 passes defensed for the Redskins this season, both team highs, while starting all 15 games. He also forced three fumbles. With Giants Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins injured, Swearinger could wind up being named to the Pro Bowl as a replacement.
To make room on the roster for Swearinger, the Cardinals placed rookie tackle Korey Cunningham (foot) on injured reserve.
Cunningham, a seventh-round pick, started six games at left tackle for Arizona before going down late on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. He drew praise during the season from head coach Steve Wilks for his play, as he held up well after being thrust in for injured starter D.J. Humphries.
Cunningham is the seventh offensive lineman the Cardinals have placed on injured reserve this season. Four of Arizona’s projected starters wound up on IR, while the fifth (right tackle Andre Smith) was released in November.
—Field Level Media