TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck, the unsung, undrafted pass-rusher who made a name for himself with the second-most sacks on the team last season, signed his one-year tender on Thursday as a restricted free agent.
Gardeck, who signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Sioux Falls, didn’t play a defensive snap in his career until Week 5, when linebacker Chandler Jones was lost for the season with a torn biceps. Gardeck had two sacks in nine snaps that game and went on to finish the season with seven sacks, the second-most on the Cardinals behind former Arizona linebacker Haason Reddick‘s 12.5.
Gardeck tore his ACL in Week 15 in December and had surgery to repair it in January. His recovery appears to be going well, according to videos he has posted on social media of him boxing and working out.
Gardeck’s journey from Division II to a second contract in the NFL included working at McDonald’s and Panda Express in college to help pay for school.
Gardeck is expected to continue to have a role on defense but also will be one of the Cardinals’ top special teamers heading into the 2021 season.