Fitz’s contract and no franchise tag

Posted by Darren Urban on August 16, 2011 – 9:23 am

Suddenly it became big news again that the Cardinals can’t use the franchise tag on wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald if his contract expires after this season. But that’s always been part of the equation. The Cardinals knew it, obviously, from the time they signed Fitz to the last deal. Originally, the clause was supposed to allow Fitz to be tagged, but that if he was, he had to be paid $23 million for one season. That wasn’t allowed after the NFL reviewed the contract, since franchise tag numbers are set ahead of time based on previous years’ salaries of the top players at the position.

If you recall, at the time the Cards had to re-do Fitz’s deal to create cap space for the 2008 offseason (until it was done the Cards couldn’t make any moves, one reason they couldn’t make a run at guard Alan Faneca at the time). The contract had already been signed and turned in, and basically, changing the $23 million clause to the we-can’t-franchise clause was the only way to get the contract finalized. So that was that.

But again, it’s been known since then. It was part of the narrative last season and again right after the season when the Cards first started contract talks. Fitz has a no-trade clause too — at least one in which he has to approve any destination, but that’s a moot point. The Cards have zero interest in dealing him.

(As a side note, remember Darnell Dockett last offseason? He almost didn’t report to camp because he wanted a new contract. He was assured one was coming, so he showed to Flagstaff. He even make a comment at one point that one was coming, early in camp. That day didn’t come until September. But it came. Before the season. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.)

In the end, that’s why missing an offseason was such a big deal, because the Cards couldn’t start showing Fitz how they were going to re-build their team until about three weeks ago. That’s always been the big issue. As my cohort Kent Somers noted the other day on Twitter, Fitz wants two things: Big stats, and to play for a winner. That’s the only way he can cement the legacy he wants so much. With all that as the backdrop, that’s why the Cards are making this contract push now — this was always going to be a crucial time in the relationship between Fitz and the team. And everybody knew it.

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40 Responses to “Fitz’s contract and no franchise tag”

  1. By D on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Only thing new about this is the national media is running with it..that’s the problem with 15,000 websites reporting on the same thing….

  2. By Jesse Robles on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    If Fitz WANTS to stay, he WILL stay, if not, we have to move on too.

    on a positive note, RYAN WILLIAMS!! He is going to be fun to watch!!

  3. By Kurt on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Just pay the man

  4. By Phoenixraven1 on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Get him signed! 7 year deal lol! Lock him up until retirement!

  5. By Joe DeBolt on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    I think Fitz’s is the best there is & we need him badly. ~ Don’t bolw this Cards.

  6. By Chad on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    In hindsight, why do you think the “promised” deal to Boldin never came and the team ultimately dealt him? It worked out for Dockett, but I’m always weary when Graves says a new deal is coming based on how the Boldin contract was handled.

  7. By Darren Urban on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Chad —

    RE: Boldin/contract

    I think there were a few issues. First, not sure what was “promised” and what the time frame was for that. Two, once Anquan went public and went angry, I think that hurt him with the organization. Third, there was a concern how much Boldin had left considering his style of play.

  8. By Bay Area Bad Boy on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    They will sign him. The deal will get done.

  9. By Ty on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    A couple of weeks ago I was complaining to u about the dockett trade rumors and you said I should follow you on Twitter. So I finally signed up and you were the first that I followed… So bam! Lol

  10. By Mikeflorio on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Nice Pic, Two giant adults and tens of little kids trying to get a an autograph. Grown adults make me sick when they pull this.

  11. By ProSportsPhoenix on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    No reason this will not get done, none.

  12. By ProSportsPhoenix on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Hopefully Fritz will leave some money for more players. The Cards will empty the bank if that is what it takes. I think Larry is smarter than that. At least I hope he is.

  13. By Kaleb on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Reinforcing optimism and patience, thank you kindly darren.

  14. By MattP on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Here’s what I don’t get. Fitz wanted to see how the organization was gonna turn themselves around after a terrible 2010 season (Particulary the mess at QB). So what did the Bidwells do? They traded away our best CB to get a guy that Fitz has endorsed many times in the offseason. And we basically revamped the entire roster as well. So I don’t get why both sides can’t come to an agreement before the season starts to lock #11 up for good?

  15. By Andre on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply


    The season hasn’t started yet. I’m 99 percent certain he will remain an Arizona Cardinal before game 1. He just has a very good agent to iron things out for Fitz’s contract.

  16. By Joe Holst on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    6 years/18 mil a year=108 mil…bargain

  17. By clssylssy on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t think anybody likes to get jacked and believe anyone in Boldin’s position would have been justified in being angry. To his credit, once the season started he stepped up and put his anger aside and gave it 100%, such that both Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald, not only endorsed his value to the team but, offered to “kick in” to pay him. Integrity is something that has been sadly slipping away from professional sports since it has become such a big money enterprise. Fans ignore the reality that football is a business. Fitz is an extraordinary player who deserves to see the fruits of his labor and achieve the career goals he has set for himself whether it be as a Cardinal or with another team. Let’s hope this deal gets done but don’t know that I would want to “go all in” on a longterm contract gamble.

  18. By Kevin on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply


    What are the dates for roster cuts?

    Thanks, Kevin

  19. By Darren Urban on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Kevin —

    RE: Cuts

    90 to 75 after third preseason game. 75 to 53 after fourth preseason game.

  20. By Mario on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Either Fitz is signig…or he’s been lying. Bottom line.

  21. By James on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    I’m starting to wonder if Fitz really wants to retire a Cardinal.If a contract is not done before the regular season starts………LOOK OUT!He will probably want to test the market which would go contrary to what he originally said which is that he wanted to retire a Cardinal.The Cardinals are pretty much willing to give him anything he wants to keep him so no one can blame them if this falls through.We’ll see where his heart really is.

  22. By drummer-1 on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply


    Whats was that about? what are the trying to pull?

  23. By Jzoully on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    There is a difference Boldin and Fitz, Fitz is a Playmaker, Boldin is a complement, Fitz is the Cardinals, thats it

  24. By cards62 on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    I just think Fitz wants to be on a contender evey year and I think he was smart securing his freedom so I do not think he will be willing to give it up. I think we can resign him, but I think it will be a short deal or have a Fitz out clause.

    Darren I just read an article about salary caps for all NFL Clubs. The Chiefs are best $ 32 million under the cap, and the Rams are the only team over the cap. and our Cardinals are in good shape $ 14.5 million under the cap.

    Do you think our club will spend some of this money to improve our club before the opener or do you think they will keep it for a cushion to see how injuries play out during the year.

    Thank you and go Cards.

  25. By Darren Urban on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    cards62 —

    RE: Cap space

    I think they plan to spend a good chunk of that on Fitz’s deal. I could see them making a move or two before the opener, but let’s face it, at this point, there aren’t great players left out there. There are old players, injured players, players who want too much money. As Whisenhunt noted today with the Wrs, at some point you have to let the young players have a shot. It’s the only way to sustain a franchise.

  26. By AndyStandsUp on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    You have to wait until the contract details come out when done, but I’m wondering if Fitz puts Arizona into a salary cap crunch in later years if it’s worth it to keep him a Card. I mean are we going to make him the highest paid WR because he IS the best or because of the PR nightmare of getting rid of the face of the team?
    And I realize the owner is the one offering the potential money and he could be cut any time (right), but you can’t tell me Fitz and his agent aren’t participating players.

  27. By Darren Urban on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Cap space

    One of the reasons they are keeping so much space now is they could front-load the deal, easing a cap crunch later.

  28. By Matthew on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    @Jzoully i wouldnt necessarily call Boldin a compliment, i believe he is a solid number 1 guy. However Boldin did deserve to be angry, however he handled his situation professionaly. He put the contract situation’s aside for the season, and still went out and produced some good numbers. I love Fitz with the Cardinals, but if he doesnt feel like this is right for him, well then he has done everything to deserve a chance to win with another team.

  29. By Scott H on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Granted, I’m not in the rooms where the discussions are taking place. And perhaps the “delay” in this process is partly coming from Fitz and his people. But not really knowing any of that, this just looks like another thing that this organization should have done by now, but has not. Everybody is saying they want to get it done and they expect to get it done and they hope to get it done, etc, etc, etc. Well, then GET IT DONE ALREADY!!! Geez, it ain’t like you spent so much money on other WR’s that you don’t have any left for Fitz’ s contract…

    I swear, it feels like Kurt Warner all over again…where the player wants to be here and the organization wants the player to be here, but it just drags on and on and on. Next thing we know, our SB caliber QB is making a trip to San Fran to talk to the 49ers and I’m pulling my friggin’ hair out over something that never should have come to that. To this day, I think Kurt made that trip just to stick it to the Cardinals for taking so long to do what should have been a no-brainer. I hate that this organization moves so slowly with these situations.

  30. By Christos on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    The truth is we need Larry more than he needs us. It’s sad to say but the front office has a history of letting big tallent fall thru the cracks. On a positive note the Cards have done a great job rebuilding and with a little chemistry and luck we will take our division and make a run deep into the playoffs. Maybe even back to the show. Who knows stranger things have happened. 2008 season is a reminder dont under estimate the Az Cards.

  31. By Kube2 on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    Boldin was a #2 that wanted to be #1 and to be paid as #1. Fine I would want that too! and I still love him and Ravens are my favorite AFC team but Boldin did get a new deal after his rookie contract so wanting another deal so soon publicly, not the best route in my opinion .
    Fitz is best WR in league, great leader, no on field or off field issues ever. No reason not to make him highest paid “playmaker” in NFL.

  32. By dwil74 on Aug 17, 2011 | Reply

    Look darren..fitz is hands down the #1 wr in the NFL. thats a fact. but my opinion is, is that he is the best player in the NFL. And the thing that I dont get is that more than 90% of the people that read this will agree with me, but yet the bidwills are dumb enough not to hurry and make a deal with him before he starts finding interest in other teams. I hope that the cardinals org. Knows that he is the face of the franchise. I really hope fitz stays.

  33. By Darren Urban on Aug 17, 2011 | Reply

    dwil74 —

    RE: Fitz contract

    I understand people wanting to get a deal done, but I don’t understand the vitriol on the contract talks. This isn’t agreeing to give a guy 10 bucks. We are talking millions of dollars. There is negotiating involved.

  34. By dwil74 on Aug 17, 2011 | Reply

    Darren..I realize that they aren’t just giving him 10 bucks but the did know for a long time that his contract was going to end next year so it would only make since that they would have been talking to him for a while about signing him to a new contract. They got him a new qb in kolb and Todd heap at te to help open things up for fitz. So you would think it would be a little less time consuming making his new contract considering this should be the cards #1 priority?

  35. By Darren Urban on Aug 17, 2011 | Reply

    Dwil74 —

    RE: Fitz deal

    There were going to be no substantive talks until the Cards added all those players. And, given the offseason, Graves was a little busy signing 15 other guys that first week of camp, when Kolb arrived. It’s like any negotiation — it takes a back and forth, and it takes some getting up from the table to take a breath. The fact they have those players does not make it any less time consuming.

  36. By clssylssy on Aug 17, 2011 | Reply

    Chad, I don’t think you are the only one who is suspicious of the front office when these “deals” drag out, The one thing that the Cards Organization has been consistent about through the years is letting talent walk out the door to find success some place else. Kolb isn’t the first QB who could move his feet…I believe we had another guy, “Jake the Snake”, who was the only other QB to take us to playoffs beside Kurt Warner. Cards didn’t value him enough either and he went elsewhere. Fans need to remember that what Larry said was that he liked the valley and would like to retire a Cardinal HOWEVER, he wanted to have another shot at the SB and wanted to be part of a team that would get him there. I think he has a pretty extraordinary agent who has/is doing an amazing job for his client. This can’t be all about money when we seem to be so free in paying other players absurd amounts who are unproven with this team. We need Fitz more than he needs us and after last season, he is the reason most season ticket holders haven’t given up their tickets. JUST DO IT…or not, so that the ticket buying public can get an idea of the product we’re buying.

  37. By cards62 on Aug 17, 2011 | Reply


    Scott H. and others bring up good points about our past. Especially Kurt Warner.
    There was no reason to drag it out and have Kurt go to SF. This is why we worry Darren as we have seen it in the past.

    Larry F. is as close to a risk free deal as you can find so it should be done. Darren I do not know if Mike Bidwill and Rod Graves are the holdup this time, and I do not think they are as I think they would have liked to have had Larry signed well over a week ago as Rod Graves has been invisible to me for over 2 weeks when we could have been signing good football players. I truly believe Larry when he says he loves being a Cardinal and would love to retire a Cardinal, but I also truly believe Larry when he says I want my career to matter I want to play games that matter. I think this is a clear sign to management and fans that Larry will stay if we are a playoff caliber team, but if not Larry will leave not for money but for playoff games. I think Larry is doing all of us fans a favor taking this stand, and I have said Larry was smart in securing his freedom and I just do not see Larry giving up his freedom long term. I could even see Larry having a clause in his contract that he could become a free agent if the Cardinals do not make the playoffs for 2 years in a row. Jerry Rice and Lynn Swann are always remembered and held with the highest esteem by what they did in the playoffs and Superbowls. I think this is what Larry desires more than anything. I sure hope he gets it wearing Cardinal Red.

    Go Cards beat the Pack

  38. By dwil74 on Aug 17, 2011 | Reply

    Darren that does make sense. when do you think this deal will get done? And I dont think its all the cardinals fault for not getting the deal done sooner. Fitz should be wanting to hurry up and get the deal done ASAP too because the cards did go out and get a qb just for him to stay. I think they should at least have the deal done by at least the last pre season game right? Or do you think its fine to drag out through the season?

  39. By Darren Urban on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    dwil74 —

    RE: Fitz deal

    Like I wrote in the blog, Dockett’s deal took all of camp last year and was still done before the season. If it’s not done by Sept. 11, then I think there is a red flag. Until then, I just can’t get worked up.

  40. By dwil74 on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    Yeah i think that if they don’t get a deal done by the 11th then there’s definitely something wrong so let’s just hope this deal gets done. But I dont know if you can compare getting docketts deal done to getting fitz’ done. I can see why it took so long to get docketts done because although he is very good he is a somewhat controversial player. if i was the owner I would have taken the same amount of time to get his deal done but with fitz’ deal on the other hand, like I said, I would be in a huge hurry to get the deal done.

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