Lesson learned? Swearinger keeping ‘mouth shut’

TEMPE, Ariz. — On his first day of his second stint with the Arizona Cardinals, safety D.J. Swearinger said he learned his lesson about criticizing coaches, which cost him his job in Washington.

Swearinger was cut Monday by the Washington Redskins, two days after voicing his displeasure with Washington defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s game plan against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday after backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert replaced starter Marcus Mariota.

“[I] understand it wasn’t my role to call out the defensive coaches even though we had a relationship,” Swearinger said. “Me and the coaches, we had a good relationship. You know, I’ll keep my mouth shut next time and just keep [my head down] and play football and do what I need to do on the field and let my past do the talking.”

Swearinger said he didn’t think his comments would result in him losing his job. At most, he expected some sort of discipline.

“Definitely didn’t think it would cost my job knowing that me and the coach had an understanding but it is what it is,” Swearinger said. “Everything happened for a reason. I’m happy it happened and ready to move forward.”

When asked about waiving Swearinger, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said the safety’s comments weren’t “constructive” and that Swearinger had been spoken to on several occasions.

“Yeah, it was repeated offenses, yeah. We’ve had … I’ve had many talks with him in the past,” Gruden said Wednesday. “Obviously, I didn’t get through to him so again, that’s my responsibility. But at the end of the day, we decided as an organization to go ahead and move on.”

The Cardinals claimed Swearinger on Tuesday with the first waiver pick. Swearinger played for the Cardinals in late 2015 and in 2016. He was signed to the Cards’ practice squad Dec. 2, 2015, and a week later was promoted to the active roster. In 2016, playing on a $1.671 million tender, Swearinger turned in one of his best NFL seasons with 65 tackles, two sacks and a then-career-high three interceptions. He signed a three-year deal with Washington worth $13.5 million, with $9 million in guaranteed money, in 2017 and was named a Pro Bowl alternate this season.

Saying he was happy to be back in Arizona while adding it felt “weird,” Swearinger said Christmas was tough.

“It’s been a rocky Christmas for me and my family,” he said. “The last two days have been up in the air, so to say, but it’s a blessing that I’m back in Arizona and ready to get started, man.”

Swearinger, 27, said he needs to control himself better when he gets emotional after games.

“I’m a very passionate player. I put my heart in this game. You put the camera in my face after we lose a game that we’re supposed to go the playoffs, I may say some things that I shouldn’t say. That’s on me. I got to control me and be better at that. But I live and learn and I keep moving forward. That’s life.”

Cardinals coach Steve Wilks, who didn’t know Swearinger personally before Arizona (3-12) claimed him, said he’s been impressed with his play and his energy from afar. Wilks isn’t sure if Swearinger will play on defense Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, but added Swearinger might get snaps on special teams.

As of Wednesday afternoon, however, Wilks had yet to talk to Swearinger about his opinionated personality. But Wilks added that when they do talk, he’ll make it clear to Swearinger that he doesn’t mind players having opinions on coaching, but he’ll also tell Swearinger how he expects the safety to handle those emotions in Arizona.

“I don’t stand in front of you guys and throw coaches or players underneath the bus, but best believe it gets addressed and he would understand the same thing,” Wilks said. “I don’t have a problem with his opinion, but we’re not going to air that opinion outside the building. He would quickly understand that and if he has an issue, that’s where that accountability comes in, players and coaches.”

ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.

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