Daryl Gardener was a 6'6" defensive tackle out of Baylor University. The Dolphins picked him with their first round pick of the 1996 NFL Entry Draft, and gave him number 92.
As a rookie, Gardener started 12 of 16 games at the left defensive tackle position, collecting one sack, one fumble recovery and 32 tackles. The team posted an 8-8 record, finishing fourth in the AFC East, ahead of only the 1-15 New York Jets. Miami's defense only allowed 10 rushing touchdowns.
In 1997, Gardener set a career high with 52 tackles, most on the Dolphins defensive line. Starting all 16 games at right defensive tackle, he also collected 1.5 sacks, forced one fumble and recovered another. Miami went 9-7, losing in the Wildcard round, 17-3 to the New England Patriots. The defense only allowed 1,343 rushing yards on the season, the second lowest total in the NFL, behind only the Arizona Cardinals.
1998 would see Gardener again start every game for the Dolphins at right defensive tackle. He finished the season with 39 tackles, and even registered his only career interception in a week seven win over the Patriots, 12-9. Miami finished 10-6, losing to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Playoff, 38-14. Miami's defense allowed an NFL low 265 points while picking off a league high 29 interceptions.
In 1999, Gardener finished with a career high five sacks, including two in a week 14 12-9 victory over the San Diego Chargers. He tied his career high with 52 tackles, as the Dolphins finished 9-7. The team made it to the second round of the playoffs, losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 62-7.
Due to a back injury, Gardener was limited to 10 starts in 2000. He still managed to collect 2.5 sacks, finishing with a respectable 49 total tackles. The team finished 11-5, beating the Indianapolis Colts, 23-17 in the wildcard round before laying a goose egg against the Oakland Raiders the following week, 27-0. The defense finished with an NFL best 28 interceptions.
In 2001, Gardener again battled through injury to make eight starts. Despite his limited playing time, Gardener finished the season with four sacks, two passes knocked knocked down, 28 tackles and one forced fumble. Miami finished 11-5, losing the Wildcard to the Baltimore Ravens, 20-3. The Dolphin's pass defense allowed a league low 2,829 yards, an average of 177 yards per game.
In 2002, Gardener joined the Washington Redskins for one season, moving on to the Denver Broncos in 2003. He started 77 of 82 games for Miami, making 15 sacks, forcing three fumbles and recovering five, and racking up 252 tackles over six seasons.
Gardener was arrested for domestic violence on June 28, 2011 for head butting his girlfriend during an argument.