Fitz deal creates needed cap space

Posted by Darren Urban on February 4, 2014 – 4:58 pm

It was necessary and inevitable, really, Tuesday’s news that Larry Fitzgerald restructured his contract to create more cap room. It seemingly all came together so quickly (although no way to know how long talks have actually going on) that you figure it’s a straight deal to lower his 2014 salary. If that’s the case, there will be discussion on this again next year, as can be seen on this hypothetical put together by There will be some massive cap hits sooner than later. But that’s a blog post for next February, I suppose.

Today, the Cardinals are in a good spot to work through the 2014 offseason. You figure Fitz’s restructure buys the Cards probably around $10 million in cap space depending on how much money they want to give him now.

(Again, a restructure is essentially a paperwork move to impact the cap. No new money is given and Fitz certainly does not take a pay cut. Say for argument’s sake the Cards want to shave $10 million off Fitz’s scheduled $12.75 million salary. Instead of him getting that money 1/17th at a time in his regular-season paychecks, he gets one giant check now. Then the Cards can spread that $10 million over the remaining years of his deal, in this case five years. At $2 million a year, that lets them take $8 million off his $18-plus million cap number.)

UPDATE: The numbers are beginning to leak out, and it’s as expected: The Cards made $11.75 million of the $12.75 million into a bonus due in March, meaning Fitz’s official salary is down to $1 million in 2014, his cap number drops by about $10 million (getting the team $9.4 million of cap space) and again, making his future cap hits that much more bulky. This will be a problem that will be needed to be dealt with again in February of 2015.

The big result of this — compared to, for example, the protracted Fitzgerald negotiations of 2007 that took the Cards into the free-agent period — is that it happened so early in the offseason. There is more than a month left before free agency starts, meaning the Cardinals not only have plenty of time to re-sign their own guys before they hit the market and now, they have cap space too.


Posted in Blog | 49 Comments »

49 Responses to “Fitz deal creates needed cap space”

  1. By Brett n Co. on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    Thank you Fitz! You’re a class act person

  2. By Scott H on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    Well, if this ain’t the PERFECT start to the off-season…then I don’t know what is. This is awesome. Fitz is staying here, and the team benefits by gaining cap space. Everybody’s happy, everybody wins. Beautiful thing! A million miles away from the misery that was at the end of last season. Arians & Keim have opened ALL the windows in this house and the much-needed breezes of change just keep coming!

  3. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    Kiem strikes again, way to go Larry!

    (really? … as I heard the reports, he gets paid the same huge amount, and earlier .. noticed his tweet for helping the team … in the end, it does help, but a no brainer … and delays the inevitable showdown on a pay cut for one year)

    Good by me! Super Bowl 2015, go CARDS! Palmer to Fitzgerald, all year long.

  4. By jakeplummersghost on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    Darren – do you think it’s possible he gets cut next year or later because the prorated inflation of his cap number?

    I don’t like the way this is shaping up – is there any way to keep him without it really bogging us down financially in the future?

  5. By Darren Urban on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    jakeplummers —

    RE: Fitz

    It is going to bog the Cards down at some point. That’s unavoidable.

    Could he be cut? Yes. But again, at some point, there will come a day to pay the piper cap-wise. Dead money and all that. But that was already true. This doesn’t really make that worse.

  6. By Tbru on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    Fitz is smart he knows a good team around him will go further than just lining his own pockets

  7. By Darren Urban on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    Tbru —

    RE: Fitz “pockets”

    Fitz’s pockets are not only just as full as always, but a restructure actually gives him money earlier than he was supposed to get it.

  8. By Andy Kw on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    Nice we got L. Fitzgerald to restructure his contract!!!!!!!
    -Now, this team should restructure contracts with D.Washington, D. Dockett, C. Palmer, & Daryn Colledge to free up even more cap space.
    -This team should consider negotiating a deal for P. Peterson after the Cardinals restructure more contracts.
    -After negotiating a new contract with P. Peterson, this team should try to bring back LB K. Dansby, DE Frostee Rucker, & LB Marcus Benard. After these players are brought back then this team should consider our other FAs.

  9. By clssylssy on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    Wow…I feel the same way as JakePlummersghost but perhaps that is because of the Cardinals track record with players after they restructure there deal. From what I read, Keim is playing hardball with Peterson on a new deal which makes me feel that perhaps Larry’s loyalty and goodwill was exploited. I don’t think the fans are going to be real supportive of the organization if they lose our best players now that we know that they can pay them if they choose. Sure hope they(Keim and the front office) don’t manage to totally wreck what we have started when we have everything in place to get back to the Superbowl in our own house but thank you Larry Fitzgerald for being the total class professional and team player while we wait for the other shoe to drop!

  10. By Darren Urban on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    clssy —

    RE: Fitz “goodwill”

    Look, I don’t want to make this about Fitz and the move, because he could have forced his way out. But all Fitz did was take an $11.75 million check in March instead of spread out from September to December. That’s not exactly hard to do.

    As for “hardball” with Peterson, please explain to me how that is happening.

    Fans can’t have it both ways. You can’t complain that the Cards give players (like Fitz) contracts that are so bad they hamstring making moves, and then complain the team plays “hardball” when talking about negotiations.

  11. By AzDesertRat1953 on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    I see a Man who wants His Team in the playoffs in 2014.

    To have a chance to do what has never been done before.

    To Win a SB at HOME.
    Why Not?

    GO CARDS!!!

  12. By Dre on Feb 4, 2014 | Reply

    I saw pp21 is going to hold out for money now. That’s not right how are we going to build a winner with a me first attitude. Is he worth it idk give up a lot of plays he good but not great yet.

  13. By RED C on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Way to go Fitz a true team player since day 1. Now we need to lock down PP and re sign Dansby. This is awesome our D is better than Seattle and SFO and our offense will be even more explosive this coming season. We are finally in great hands with Keim and Arians. RISE UP RED SEA!!!

  14. By shannon robinson on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    There is always a brief two day period when the new contract year opens and the top free agents of the prospective year are signed to giant contracts. We did it one year with Edgerin James. Steve Keim and Larry Fitzgerald have made it possible to pay one of those big contracts. The best offensive tackle available on the market is my guess. Pat Kirwin says that money always wins in free agency. Over the Cap did a really good job of analyzing Larry’s new deal. My expectation now is an opening day signing that will make us all cheer and then patience. George Allen used to do it with the Redskins’ roster by actually releasing Jack Pardee and Myron Pottios because they all knew they’s sign again later. Frostee Rucker for example may go into FA status and then sign before camp.

  15. By Rich on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply


    If the Cards cut Fitz next after next season, how much of the remaining future compensation becomes “dead money”? I assume the salary he was to receive would not count against the future cap as dead money, but the pro-rated bonus that was extended into those years does. Is that correct?

  16. By Darren Urban on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Rich —

    RE: Dead money

    I would have to crunch some numbers. But you are correct. In light of the bonus money just moved, it would be significant.

  17. By Rich on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Did anyone see the article claiming that Peterson “would not rule out” a holdout if his deal wasn’t renegotiated?

  18. By D on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Step one is completed. I worry about Peterson’s agent and how he handled Johnson in TN…I am guessing since the cap goes up next year that Keim wants to wait until next year for PP….hopefully no issues are born from this restructure…

    Now, time to resign a few players…like Dansby, Rucker, Dray and Ballard….I would probably try to sign back A. Hall since he shouldn’t cost too much…going to need to see if Acho, Okafor or Alexander is going to provide some pass rush opposite of John A

    Any word on if Ta’amu has had his operation and has started rehab yet?

  19. By Darren Urban on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Ta’amu

    I’m pretty sure Alameda has had his surgery.

  20. By Eric G on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    I’m glad I’m not a GM that has to figure out all this weird salary cap stuff. Glad Keim is there, he seems to be making the right moves.

    We love ya Fitz, and I hope you retire a Cardinal. I can’t imagine ever seeing him in another uniform. However, I also hope the Cards draft a QB this year and give him a Superbowl chance after next season. If they don’t, I want to see Fitz earn a ring, even if it is with another team, more than struggle with the Cardinals with no franchise QB.

  21. By Big Ken on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Well said Darren. @clssy

  22. By Unfinished Business on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Love Fitz. But waiting another year to deal him might not be the best move. He’s clearly in decline, and another year will only make that more obvious, and diminish his trade value. Of course, if he’d have signed a team-friendly contract in the first place, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Unfortunately, though, we’re still paying for the incompetence of Rod Graves.

  23. By straussyno1 on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Darren, can you see any more immediate restructuring of any contracts before we head into a crucial free-agent period?

    I can’t see us having any bargaining power for crucial additions, whilst keeping some of our outstanding 1-year-dealers. There is no doubt some players deserve to be paid (Dansby, Rucker and Shaughnessy to name a few), but taking into account cap space needed for the draft too, there must be further restructuring necessary.

    Keim did say that it would be at least 2-3 years before cap situation gets any better but constant restructuring cannot be good moving forward.

    What are your thoughts? Thanks again for the work you do.

  24. By Darren Urban on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Straussy —

    RE: Restructures

    I’m not sure. “Kicking the can down the road” doesn’t help in the future. I doubt they are going to want to do a lot of it.

  25. By Matthew Thomas on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    That’s Good news for the Arizona Cardinals. 🙂

    But We should totally Give Peterson A long term Deal with the team; Like RIGHT NOW!!!!!

  26. By Andy Kw on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    P. Peterson, you are an amazing athlete but please don’t hurt this team by trying to holdout for more money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. By jasonc on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Larry Fitzgerald is neither a saint or a villain in any of this, he is simply a smart businessman and football player. I don’t see a need to glorify him from a team fan perspective because he made a move that was fiscally and professionally beneficial to him. Fans who are happy Larry got paid in advance and are thanking him sound just as ridiculous as fans that are upset that he didn’t take a pay cut and/or get traded or released. I don’t understand why fans get worked up over contracts and the salary cap anyway? I had a huge discussion about all of this in season when many fans were adamant that we could possibly keep Larry and be competitive and now here we are…we have Larry and we have roughly 11 million in cap space to make moves.

  28. By Big Ken on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    It will be interesting to see the kind of stats Larry Fitz racks up next year. Big numbers would clearly pressure the team to pay that final year of his contract.

  29. By Darren Urban on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Big Ken —

    RE: “Final year”

    Fitz’s contract runs through 2018.

  30. By Coach K on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Fitz steps up again to be the ultimate team player. Once again, he shows his unselfishness for the benefit of the team.

    Here is my dream draft round one through six:

    1. OT- Morgan Moses
    2. CB- Marcus Roberson
    3. WR- Martavious Bryant
    4. OLB- Christian Kirksey
    5. DT- George Uko
    6. SS- Isaiah Lewis

    I feel these guys will be available at these picks. They are all high motor,
    very athletic kids. I really like Moses as the most pro ready tackle.

  31. By Darren Urban on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Coach K —

    RE: Fitz decision

    Again, I don’t want to rain on the Fitz parade, but I’m not sure exactly how taking his money now rather than later is unselfish. I’m not saying it’s selfish, but it’s odd to me he is being lauded for not really doing much.

  32. By Big Ken on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Darren, Does it run through 2018 because of this contract conversion? I thought 2014 and 2015 were the last two years on his current deal with 2015 going to pay him the $22 milllion.

  33. By Darren Urban on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Big Ken —

    RE: Fitz deal

    Signed in 2011 through 2018.

  34. By ored on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    petersons new agent just making a statement justifying his piece of the pie,we know we have rights for peterson and can franchise him after that,either way he gets how about a trade,rumour is minn.looking to shed j.allens contract,how about they negotiate a cap friendlier contract with a big bonus of course,they pay the bonus and we assume the contract,we do a sign and trade with andre and send him and stanton to them along with our 1st pick for their 2nd round.they get a qb with experience and reciever and the picks to either go after their choice of qb or roll with stanton and try for watkins to replace harvin. we just used our 1st pick for the pass rusher we need and now have two 2nd rnd picks.
    i like the moses pick if he’s still there and this would also give the que bros.the opportunity they been wanting to draft a qb somewhere mid round,you can’t convince me keim and BA don’t have their eye on one,just itching to pull the trigger,would be the perfect scenario.minn.gets out from a burdonsome fitz like contract with jared and the opportunity to bring along the player in waiting and two 1st rnd picks,we also get what we need and two 2nd rnd.picks.if this is feasible,it would be a big splash trade that would help both teams.

  35. By Big Ken on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Oh ok. Thanks for that link Darren. Great picture of Larry btw. Jumps right out at you.

  36. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Yep, the Big Showdown with Eugene Parker is put off for 1 year…:

    “UPDATE: Multiple reports list Fitzgerald as getting a $11.75 million roster bonus in March, lowering his salary to $1 million in 2014 and saving the Cardinals about $9.4 million on the salary cap. Fitzgerald’s cap number for 2015 is scheduled to be more than $23 million, however, and will have to be dealt with again a year from now.”

    Probably works for Cards, if we don’t improve, maybe Palmer and Fitz both gone… if we do improve, who knows… maybe both back for a other SB run! lol…well, at least we got 2014 on track for free agents, thats huge, good job Little Mr. B

  37. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    Larry just took the $$ early then tweeted with a mild victory lap about helping the team it seemed… didn’t brag but he seemed to take some credit for getting paid early… dubious, but isn’t a big deal… he came back strong this year after his injuries.

    I just want him to get in proper condition and stay injury free… so we can see what he has left. The 2nd half of the year he was the old high performance Larry it seemed, no?

  38. By Dr. G. on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    It’s a challenge to discuss the business side of things from an emotional point of view. Fans love Fitz. Both sides of this Fitz thing came out just OK… but he is still too expensive if he does not put up pro-bowl numbers… And….that will be a challenge when Floyd seems to be Palmer’s favorite target. (Unless the Coach tries to force Palmer’s hand)…

    It was posted months ago that Roberts had better numbers than Fitz in 2012; that did not seem to get much attention in the dialogue here. For 2013, Roberts and Fitz had comparable numbers when the % of targets and yardage is considered.

    In an alternate universe, Floyd and Roberts would make a formidable 1 – 2 combo. The others coming up are grooming very well too. Roberts seems to be a true gentleman, well-educated, a good ambassador, and a damn good young receiver. He has been in the shadow of Fitz all his career, so he gets no props. The comparison here is solely made from a business view. The emoticons like to root for Fitz because he is also all those things. I like him too.

    Bottom line – If Keim lets Roberts get away, there will be 31 other teams ready with pen in hand. We need to credit him for his efforts and team work….

    I welcome commentary… Be well…

  39. By Chuck 1 on Feb 5, 2014 | Reply

    You can bet your bottom dollar that Keim won’t negotiate a contract with PP that puts the Cards’ cap in the same bind that Graves did when he gave the ranch to Fitz.

  40. By Chuck 1 on Feb 6, 2014 | Reply

    Dr. G.,

    I agree. Take likability out of the decision-making. Base the decision on the numbers i.e. on the field receptions etc. and $$$ cap numbers

    I believe the Cards should not keep kicking the Fitz cap anchor down the road i.e. $23,000,000 next season is way too much.

  41. By jasonc on Feb 6, 2014 | Reply


    It’s not really worth debate at this juncture because with the restructure which moved salary money to bonus money the dead money figure on Fitzgerald’s contract is around 13 million dollars this year so Fitzgerald isn’t going anywhere in 2014.

    For the sake of argument though I’ll give my take. When you are evaluating a players worth it is a dangerous game to look solely at stats to determine ability. One of the most overpaid free agents year after year in the NFL is the secondary or tertiary

  42. By jasonc on Feb 6, 2014 | Reply

    WR from a high flying offense whose stats are inflated due to scheme and/or playing alongside more talented WR’s. I don’t know if Larry is the same player he was 5-6 years ago but teams still fear him and game plan to stop him which leaves more opportunities for players like Roberts and Floyd. In BA’s offense he likes to use multiple TE’s so it is difficult for the defense to substitute based on our personnel and when we do go 3 or 4 wide we need a speed wide receiver. Andre Roberts is a fine WR but he lacks elite speed and he doesn’t have to size that Floyd and Fitzgerald have, I agree he won’t have trouble finding a job and he has the ability to succeed in this league but with our cap and what we need to get accomplished I think he is a luxury. As you said Brown looked good last season and we have Golden who will be healthy so it’s not like we don’t have young players to fill his shoes, plus if we find another speed guy or TE in the draft..what about Ellington’s ability in the slot (talk about a substitution nightmare next year, we could have our base run personnel in the game and force the d to play their base defense then go 3, 4 or 5 wide and vice versa if they substitute their nickel package we can line up tight and run the ball…next season should be awesome)?

  43. By ored on Feb 6, 2014 | Reply

    any news on byrd,think he was concussed last year,but he’s still listed on the roster,big body reciever i thought had promise.i think we still have more pressing needs at defending the pass than catching it,unless a value speed reciever drops i think we make the o-line,secondary,and pass rush the priorities.our biggest problems last year were giving palmer time and covering tight ends,fix those first and other stuff starts falling into place.

    i do agree with BA that we need speed,but i also think he has an eye out for a qb,not the 1st round,that’s not our greatest need right now,but someone for down the road.i think we’ve chipped and schemed all we can at LT,it’s detracting from our TE play and is still not good enough,the last thing we need is for qbs’ to get injured,been there done that.having cooper back should help,although colledges’strong point is pass protection,so we wait and see.would be nice to “”rent” a LT for a year or two and draft one to develop.

    one thing for sure,our coaching and management team is way better,we still don’t have all the right pieces on the o-line,but they’re playing better and the players attitude is good even though we don’t even have a playoff high,let alone a super bowl appearence,i think we’re starting to get some swagger.

  44. By ored on Feb 6, 2014 | Reply

    it occurred to me that of our three biggest needs,the o-line and secondary help with tight ends and someone across from patrick are foremost,we still have linebackers that are still developing and are unknowns at present.with six picks and some free agent money we should narrow the focus to the best at those spots whether it’s by trade,free agency,draft,or any combination.

  45. By Dr. G. on Feb 6, 2014 | Reply

    jasonc – Chuck1 – I was not trying to create debate on the Fitz deal… I know he is inked for 2014. Subliminally, I wanted to demostrate how absurd this contract is when we have had another WR with comparable effectiveness. Also, Fitz does not seem to be the jump-ball guy anymore as he was in his prime. Trust me, I know about the hammy stuff… Floyd appears to have ascended to that position for the Cards.

    As for the speedsters, anything around 4.34 to 4.5 for the 40 is considered flying… Roberts was 4.46… He is an asset, not a liability when it comes to speed. There will be some (few) just a little faster, but smarts, good hands, character, etc. are already part of his makeup. If the Fitz deal does not “dramatically” change for 2015, the Cards will not have lost much if Roberts is here… We need to keep him around in that he is still young and has many more years to play. I hope the $$ is there. This is a forest for the trees thing…

    The previous regime is responsible, not Fitz…I’d take the bloated deal too!!! Be well…

  46. By Dr. G. on Feb 6, 2014 | Reply

    ored – Good observations – Our only concern if we draft an LT vs FA is coaching them up quickly, ‘cuz we may have 3 or 4 basic rookies on that line. Sowell can still be a serviceable backup… He quelled the riotous fans; I couldn’t believe it took about 7 games (including pre-season) for them to change things. Arians/Keim were hoping lovable #75 would come around… Brown took all that heat with class….later

  47. By jasonc on Feb 7, 2014 | Reply


    If you believe that Fitzgerald and Roberts have comparable effectiveness then that is the problem with your logic.

  48. By Dr. G. on Feb 7, 2014 | Reply

    jasonc – Perhaps I did not make it clear for you. “Effectiveness” defined… comparable empirical data demonstrated…The performance stats are yours for the reading. When Roberts gets the same # of targets, his numbers are comparable to Fitz the past 2 years…no denying this… He may not draw a crowd, but he has gotten it done. And, some of his plays have been spectacular.

    Darren’s article is about $$$ here. That is what I was addressing. Roberts is listed at $1,323,000- for 2013. Fitz will be about 10 times that for 2014. If Roberts is not offered the moon, it would be prudent to keep him for a reasonable number. Be well…

  49. By jasonc on Feb 8, 2014 | Reply


    I understand what you’re trying to show through stats but the fact of the matter is that defenses don’t scheme to stop Roberts. He isn’t double covered he doesn’t draw the opposing defenses top corner and defenses don’t shade coverages his way. His targets and one on one opportunities are a product of playing alongside Fitzgerald. So Fitzgerald vs Roberts effectiveness can’t be measured by stats. Now would it be prudent to sign Roberts for a reasonable number? What’s reasonable? Even if he gets a slight raise say 2 million, why would we pay that for a player that doesn’t play that many snaps or special teams? Our 2nd, 3rd and 4th round picks last year cost a total of 1.8 million. As I said I like Roberts but he is a luxury and replaceable.

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