Larry Fitzgerald’s future — a primer

Posted by Darren Urban on December 21, 2016 – 4:55 pm

We’ve had a few days — starting with Sunday after the Saints loss — of Larry Fitzgerald talking daily about his future. The message hasn’t changed, really, culminating with “I don’t know what I’m doing next year” during his weekly post-practice meeting with the media Wednesday. But the wide receiver is a national icon, so his comments and decisions reach far beyond the Cardinals fan base.

So where we are now — two games left in this season — I thought it’d be good to have a primer of where we stand with Fitz and his future. I’ve covered Fitz since the day he arrived in Arizona. Sometimes you read between the lines with him. Not sure that’s where we are in this case.

— I think Fitz is truly undecided. I won’t be shocked if he retired, and I won’t be shocked if he plays in 2017.

— His comments about being competitive mean something in the context that I do think roster makeup and the Cardinals’ chances for the postseason — at least the potential chances — will factor into his choice. It had zero to do with some plea to play for a different franchise. Not sure how anyone saw it that way.

— About him playing elsewhere — I felt that door closed as soon as he did his new deal in February of 2015. That was the time when he would’ve moved on. The Cardinals wanted to make sure he stayed, and that’s what Fitz wanted.

— If he plays next season, it’ll be as a Cardinal. It was nice that he said at his charity event Tuesday night he’s not going to play elsewhere, but that wasn’t going to happen. He signed a extension for 2017 in training camp. The Cardinals are not trading him, and they aren’t releasing him. And if there is a chance next year that Fitz wants to play in 2018, I think Michael Bidwill will work hard to make sure he’s covered contractually for that season.

— I don’t think Fitz plays beyond 2017, for a few reasons. He’s not going to want his play to decline. He’s taken plenty of shots over the years too. There is a reason he said a couple of weeks ago he won’t play long enough to catch Tony Gonzalez for No. 2 in receptions. Because he knows he won’t play long enough.

— Whatever decision he makes, it will have nothing to do with how Michael Floyd’s tenure ended in Arizona.

— Fitzgerald has always been hyper-knowledgeable about his stats. They matter to him. But he isn’t chasing stats anymore. He’s chasing a ring with the Cardinals. He was crushed after last season’s NFC title game loss. That was as genuine as it gets. He’s mentally worn down this season, and that’s not just because of the grind of playing — it’s the disappointment of this season, and knowing what was supposed to be a possible playoff run was anything but.

— Maybe there will be a timeline, or maybe not, to make a choice. I do think that if Fitzgerald decides to play next season, it’s not like he’s going to make some grand pronouncement. Since he’s under contract, he’ll just show up at offseason work. He knows the Cardinals nation — and the NFL world — will be waiting for him to make a decision. I’m guessing Fitz is not really worried about it. (UPDATE: Jim Trotter says Fitz will take a month or two after the season to make his choice.)




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34 Responses to “Larry Fitzgerald’s future — a primer”

  1. By Scott H on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    Looking at this picture, one can only wonder…, what could have been if Fitz would have played with a QB as talented as Drew Brees for a good stretch?? Or if he could have had a few more seasons with Warner. Wow.

    Maybe THE most amazing thing Fitz did during his career was to remain dedicated to being the best HE could be – year in, year out – when our QB’s were never going to be good enough to make us competitive.

    I take nothing away from Jerry Rice. But fact is, most of his career was accounted for by Joe Montana ( THE greatest QB of all time ) and Steve Young ( maybe the most under-rated QB of all time, and still great ) as his QB’s. That has everything to do with his career numbers and the liklihood that they will never be surpassed. Could he have achieved those numbers with the cast of characters that Fitz has played with over his career? Absolutely not.

    It is SO amazing that Fitz has the numbers he does, having played with the QB’s he did. Could anyone name another WR that has achieved a career resume comparable to Fitz’ that also played with SOOOOOO many below average to flat-out lousy QB’s? I really don’t think so. And for THAT reason, he should be considered as great as any other WR that has ever played.

  2. By Scott H on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    I have ZERO concern that Fitz would consider playing anywhere else. That’s just not going to happen. Not that I know, but I think Fitz’ TRUE goal was to win a SB with the Arizona Cardinals. Period. If it’s not gonna happen here, then I think he’ll be OK with it.

    You could see that happening IF it ever got to a point where it did with Joe Montana or Emmitt Smith or Peyton Manning or Brett Favre – that the player wanted to keep playing but the team was saying no thanks, we’re moving on. But it appears the Cardinals were not / are not going to let it come to that.

    So, Fitz playing his entire career here will be a remarkable accomplishment for the Cardinals organization as well. They said he would never play anywhere else, and they stood behind that. Virtually un-heard of in pro sports.

  3. By JTDG on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    Darren – ” I do think roster makeup and the Cardinals’ chances for the postseason — at least the potential chances — will factor into his choice.”

    If Keim does not put together a roster that gives him a super bowl shot, he will most likely be gone.

    So, what does that mean? What needs to happen for Fitz to say, “OK, I’ll stay another year” ?

    DJ is in place. He is a great back.

    QB is set with Palmer

    The oline is a mess with the center and guard spots playing poorly. I would imagine he wants to see Keim make a move to solidify the oline. I see people say Boehm and Toner should be there. That would be a huge mistake. There has been no indication that either has stepped up in practice, as we have seen players who were cut brought back and playing instead of them. It is foolish to count on either guy at this point.

    WR – John Brown, Jaron Brown, and JJ Nelson all have big questions. Larry needs help. A big, fast receiver who can make plays and spread the field. This team needs more than the Larry David show. Time to invest in a top notch receiver like Mike Williams or Ju Ju Smith-Schuster.

    I also think, if he watched on defense, Chandler Jones, Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson all walk, that would make me feel uneasy. The cards need to figure out that other CB, Tag Jones and see if there is a way to bring back CC.

    This offseason is a big one for Keim. This fan base loves Larry and if he leaves because Keim does not get the players, that just won’t be acceptable.

    Bring Larry back by building a team he wants to win with.

  4. By georgiebird on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    The Cards team in 2016 is not close to being a playoff team. Some thoughts:
    1) time to move on from Larry and Carson- for different reasons
    2) time for BA to put his health ahead of coaching another year or two.
    3) Don’t rehire Bowles after he is fired
    4) a move to a 4-3 defense for this linebacker starved franchise Golden MLB.
    5) draft a QB
    6) All possibly available QBs have their flaws- Andy Dalton may be the best
    7) Don’t re-sign Chandler Jones (Belichick’s opinion has to carry some weight)
    8) Don’t re-sign Campbell (nice guy but not good enough}
    9) Cat must go (nice guy but not good enough)
    10) New coaching for both Offense and special teams

  5. By georgiebird on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    All those who think this years’ Cards team can turn it around quickly in 2017 must reconcile the following:
    1) the quality route against Tampa was helped big time by a 5-0 turnover advantage even though yardage was about the same.
    2) the quality 8 point victory against the Redskins was helped by a 2-0 turnover advantage
    3) Wins against SF (2) and the Jets have kept the Cards from being one of the worst teams in the NFL
    4) Along this year’s schedule, there should have been a signature win where no one could question the Cards superiority
    5) Yes, the narrow loss to the Pats and the tie with Seattle could have easily been wins but not wins that would establish the Cards clear superiority- after all, no Brady and an injured Wilson.
    The point in all of this is that the Cards needed some signature wins to establish that the Cards’ players are superior to the opposition’s players. We haven’t had many of those dominating, clearly superior efforts in the past couple of years. And conversely, we have had a several games where the Cards have been totally dominated. But mostly, we come out of winning games saying a win is a win.
    It’s going to be a long way back. .

  6. By shane on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    He will be back …

    I believe this team will learn alot from this season (including the coaches) this team will bounce back next year … they will be the underdog once again next year something there used to and thrive under. Idk if that means a Super bowl or not but i wouldn’t bet against a story book ending with Larry & Carson winning a ring and walking off into the sunset against all odds . It might be hard to see right now, but i truly believe this season will in the long run help this team out for the better .

  7. By JTDG on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    OK, Daryl Washington, from my understanding, the cards can finally cut Dwash in 2017 and save roughly 5 million in cap space.

    This would give the cards approximately 44 million after releasing him for 2017.

    Also releasing Bethel and Branch would give the cards another 7 million in cap space bringing the total to 51 million.

    In 2018, if the cards move on from Palmer , the cards would have 95 million in cap space. If they move on from Iupati, it would free up another 6 million to 101 million.

    My point?

    Chandler Jones could be Tagged at 13.9 million in 2017

    Now use bonuses over years to reduce 2017 and guarantee 2018.

    Stephon Gilmore could be signed at CB for 4 years at 44 million but with signing bonus and structure, he would count 6 million in 2017 and 15 million in 2018

    Kevin Zietler at guard signed at 5 years and 60 million. Again, 7 million in 2017 and 17 million in 2018

    Tony Jefferson at SS at 4 years and 24 million. 2017 would be at 4 million and 8 million in 2018.

    Trade a 5th round pick to Jets for Nick Mangold and redo his contract for 2 years at 14 million all guaranteed making only 4 million in 2017

    Jermaine Gresham at 2 year 6 million

    Swearinger at 3 years 12 million with bonus making it 3 million in 2017.

    That leaves 11 million left to sign rookies and see if you can do anything with Campbell.

    You draft WR Mike Williams in round one and ILB Jarred Davis in round 2, we would have a legit shot.

    In 2018, you would have over 50 more million to spend and if you kept Palmer, it would still be 36 million left. The cards could do what is needed to do. The contracts are very fair. Of course, players would have to want to come here.

  8. By Darren Urban on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: DWash

    To clarify, you are saving nothing in cap space with Washington. You haven’t been paying him a salary and the only reason he is on the roster still is because there were cap implications that accelerated if you let him go. This way, the cap hit was spread over time. Not sure if they are down to one or two years so you could spread it over two seasons but you are still on the hook for what was left of his cap, one way or the other.

  9. By dkerry5242 on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Leave Fitzgerald alone. Man I’m sure he’s tired of being asked the same question over and over. He probably doesn’t want to think about next year. Keep pressing him for an answer and you may not like what you get.

  10. By Darren Urban on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    dkerry —

    RE: Fitz

    I would wager everything I have in the world that Fitz will not base his decision on his weariness of being asked the question.

  11. By Corgon on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Please don’t retire, please don’t retire, please don’t retire! I promise i’ll be in London next year, but i’d like to see one of the greatest of all time on the field! He is a class act, the WR of all WRs, holder of countless records, the keeper of the seven keys, but for me, he is the reason why I’ve started following the NFL. So please, don’t retire.

  12. By Christian on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    When I first watched the Cardinals, I didn’t like Fitz, or Warner for that matter. As a new fan who didn’t know much, I liked Boldin and Leinart (Leinart was why the Cardinals became “my team”), and it looked like the show was being stolen from them. Through my high school years and as I finish college, I have come to respect and admire Fitz. As I learned this team’s history, he has felt like the bright spot.

    I hope Fitz comes back for one more year, now that two more is all but impossible. Watching this guy and the miraculous things he does on the field helped me fall in love with the game. It’s hard to imagine not having one last season to cherish.

  13. By clssylssy on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Hats off to you, at least you’re honest. Not too many would admit that they became Cards fans because of Leinart (although I remember many being very unhappy that there was ever a QB competition with the heir apparent losing out to an “old man).

  14. By JTDG on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply


    I can only go off sources like spotrac.

    According to them, in 2016, Dwash had a 2.1 million cap hit with 5.5 million in dead money if cut.

    Again, according to them Dwash has a 7.7 million cap hit and 2.5 dead money.
    So releasing him would give 5 million in relief.

    Maybe they do not take in account the suspension. Not sure. but 2017 is Washington’s last year for his contract.

  15. By JTDG on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply


    7.7 figures would be 2017

  16. By Darren Urban on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: 7.7

    That absolutely includes a salary that he wouldn’t be making if suspended (and therefore wouldn’t be counted on the cap). And if he was suddenly reinstated, his salary would revert back to what he was supposed to be paid in 2014 anyway.

  17. By JTDG on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply


    OK, so why has he not been released.

    It would make sense if my numbers are correct, but if salary doesn’t count, his 4.4 million would not have counted in 2016. That would mean it was only 1.1 of dead money vs his 2.5 million in cap hit.

    Tell me what I am missing.

  18. By Darren Urban on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: DWash

    There might be something involved in terms of trying to recoup bonus money from a legal aspect. I am not sure of that, however.

  19. By JTDG on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Point is , whether DWash give 5 million, 2 million or no relief, the cards have plenty of cap space to make this thing work.

    Especially if they push contracts into the huge space of 2018. If they actually sign Jones and push his contract into 2018 – 2019 and lower 2017, there would be even more space.

    There is no doubt that when Fitz and Palmer are off the payroll in 2018 (Palmer released /retired) or 2019. Contracts done, it frees up a lot of cash. Palmer and Larry count as 25% of the cap in 2017.

    By pushing contracts into the future by using bonuses and guaranteed money, you can get the players you need in 2017 and have room to absorb their contracts in 2018 and 2019.

    In a way, the DBacks did this, (not really the same but the concept is) with future contracts to get their World Series. People in the Valley still talk about Gonzo’s bloop over the infield. Being a champion last forever.

    Make this work Keim.

  20. By JTDG on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    On a completely different note; Darren and other fans;

    a couple of blogs back, people are debating Palmer’s worth. It got me thinking.

    1. Are fans aware Palmer is 14th All time in Passing yards and with a 4000 yard season in ’17, will move up to the top ten All Time?

    2. He is also #14 in TD passes all time and could move into the top 10, passing Elway with an average year in 2017.

    3. He is in the top 20 in both QB comp % and QB ratings of All Time.

    4. He is 12th all time in passing yards per game and tied with names like Sammy Baugh, Dan Marino, Bob Greise, and Fran Tarkington on yards per pass attempt.

    5. And, although he played for the Raiders, Bengals, and Cardinals (not the most winningest franchises) he is 30th all time in wins, With only 11 wins from being #15.

    What is missing? A Superbowl.

    Question, looking at his stats and provided he plays in 2017 and climbs the ladder, is he a HOFer? Or does he need a Superbowl to be a HOFer.

    How about the ring of honor – He has 33 wins as a cardinal (more than Warner) and can still grow next year to be 3rd all time for the cardinals.

    Do you think it all depends on the cards winning the superbowl or at least going?

  21. By Andy Kw on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    Is Kerwynn Williams signed through 2017? In his limited reps on offense, he has produced good results

  22. By Darren Urban on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Andy Kw —

    RE: Kerwynn

    Williams is one of many free agents-to-be.

  23. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    So why has our DL pass rush faded? Only CC has kept pace, not much last several + games from Jones, Golden (well, not as much), Okafor, Mauro, Gunter, Rucker, Peters, Williams, Stinson (hurt) Pierre and Nke (x last game). The idea was we had so much depth re could rotate, instead always 3 DL inactive. Not much blitz help with DB injuries, but still, the DL was soft on run of late and no pressure. That exacerbates weak DB play = 48 burger. DL needs to step up, big time, no?

  24. By mitchaz on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    According to Jim Trotter, Fitz told him he wants to take 1-2 months to decide whether he is coming back for the final year of his contract in Arizona. One would imagine that in that interim, BA&SK will outline to Fitz what their plan is for 2017. It certainly puts pressure on them to present Fitz with a plan that would excite him.

  25. By D on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    I like some of your suggestions like: Tagging C. Jones, Signing K Zeitler for RG, J. Gresham, Swearinger at FS and S. Gilmore at CB.
    I like Jefferson but I don’t believe they will want to spend the big $ for him at SS and he most likely will be money whipped in FA. I don’t think Mangold has anything left and I would keep Bethel for Special teams.

    I am not that big on drafting 1st Round WR’s. I would look into Free agency at signing one of the following if available: Brian Quick, Kenny Britt or Justin Hunter-all are big WR’s from 25 yrs old to 28yrs old.

    My first 3 round draft as of today:

    Round 1: R. Foster ILB. He is the Hammer this D is missing. This also would move DBuc back to SS and the option to move on from Jefferson.

    Round 2: D. Webb QB. He can spend 1 yr learning from Palmer.
    Round 3: R. Douglas CB: Big CB that is a sleeper in the draft.

    Doubtful C. Campbell will be resigned due to big free agency $. Doubtful Frosty will be back too. I would make a push to sign Free agent N. Fairley.

  26. By JTDG on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply


    !st round – Foster. I wouldn’t be upset if the cards take Foster. I see him as a guy who can play sideline to sideline and make plays in the passing game, Exciting player.
    ,But I think if you could have taken Amari Cooper, Dez Bryant, Odell Becham, Deandre Hopkins, you would.
    I think if you do your homework, you could get a big time receiver.

    Nick Fairley has put up a big year for the saints. Maybe he has shaken the lazy label and grew up. I have thought about him. It is a gamble though, because he would be mentoring Nkemdichi.

    Jefferson, it could work if you pushed his contract into bonuses and guaranteed money in the future. I don’t think he will get more than 6-7 million a year. In my example, he average 6 million. It could work.

    As for the free agent receivers, remember Fitz leaves after 2017, Is Britt your #1?
    I would rather give our new QB a stud young receiver to have walking in to 2018.

  27. By Scott H on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Tell ya what, folks….in a season that has become a lost cause and with two games left that don’t even really matter…..the prospect of Larry Fitzgerald’s retirement after this season has rendered a game against the Seahawks in Week 16 completely irrelevant. To me, anyway.

    We’ve had our share of off-seasons where Fitz’ contract was front and center on the list of things to “worry” about. And we always got the happy ending we hoped for. But….i wonder if we’ve seen the last of those.

    Warner gave us a 2-year deal after 2008 and we never got the 2nd year of it. Fitz gave us an extension for 2017 and I’m having increased concern that we will not see that, either.

    I DO believe he is going to give it a very careful think after the season. But I also believe that if he were certain he were playing in 2017, he would have come out and said that. I mean…no need to keep people in suspense if you know you’re going to play. And, hey, maybe this won’t be the first time he has pondered retirement. But….with the double whammy of being one year further down the road AND the team now limping toward the end of a losing season….ya gotta believe the retirement option is looming larger now than it ever has.

    All that said, I’m hoping he’ll give it one more shot. Warner walked away when this team still had a shot – WITH HIM HERE. When he left, I felt like he took our SB hopes right out the door with him. That was hard. Regardless of what happens with ANY other position on this team during the off-season, the Cardinals would be a better team with Larry Fitzgerald playing than they would be without him. Period. So, I hope HE won’t take that out the door with HIM.

    I swear, I’m just not ready to even try to conceive of a Cardinals team without Larry Fitzgerald. How can we possibly watch anyone else wear #11 for this team after the level of absolute excellence he has made synonomous with that jersey???

    It’s gonna be hard.

  28. By clssylssy on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    RE: Palmer
    it’s like Brees said, when talking about being snubbed in this years Probowl…it’s all about the wins/championships. Overall, Palmer may have the wins but what are remembered are the Championships. At this point in time, Palmer gives the impression of being a “choke artist” in postseason, and few given him credit for being able to take hits and rebounding with focus.

  29. By clssylssy on Dec 23, 2016 | Reply

    Have to agree with you Scott. And, I think at this point, as we saw last week, it’s more about show casing the young talents that we have on this team, both those who will be around, and to a lesser extent those hitting FA. Last week, Fitz played more of a supporting role, doing more blocking for DJ and the younger guys, and we saw Palmer target JJ and David more frequently.
    Given Fitz’s advice to David about “dressing for success” opportunities in postgame conferences, it sounds ominously like he is preparing to “pass the reigns”. I believe these last two games will be more about presenting good film for audition tapes than about winning games, of course, it always leaves a better impression, and everybody looks good when winning. If we can at least play at decent game against the Seahawks and look like something of our previous self, I will be happy. More important than this game against the Hawks, I don’t want us to finish the season with a loss against the Rams and leave fans with the lasting impression that we can’t ever close…as has been the case the last few seasons and even against a team like the Rams.
    I don’t think most fans are ever going to be ready for a Cardinal team without Larry Fitzgerald, and would hope that the Organization would retire his number upon his retirement;I doubt they will.. Personally, I have been preparing myself for that day, the past several years, and now see this two month post season sabbatical as more his way to ease out the door and avoiding a huge media frenzy. With a team that is going into rebuild mode, a schedule that includes traveling to London, and who couldn’t perform even to a .500 level,( when it had all the talent it needed on paper) why would anybody believe next year was going to be better…same song, different verse…and why not go out on a high note when on top of your game? As so many sportscasters have pointed out, everything is downhill from here.
    Darren has made it abundantly clear that the Organization has Fitz under contract and the only way he’ll leave is to retire. Warner retired with a year left on his contract so, I’m seeing more of Fitz ushering in the new heir, while quietly exiting in these last two games… as scripted, always the team player.

  30. By Scott H on Dec 23, 2016 | Reply

    clssy –

    RE: Palmer as a choke artist in post-season

    Well, choke artist or not, his post-season resume includes ONE win ( just last year, in a VERY shaky game against GB ). He just has no preformed well on that stage.

  31. By sarrott on Dec 23, 2016 | Reply

    Whenever Larry retires, jersey #11 NEEDS to be retired. The fact that he will go into the ring of honor was pretty much a given years ago. But the Cards do not like to retire jerseys as much as some other teams do. I understand that there are a limited amount of numbers available and with the large roster sizes it makes it hard, but it will be wrong to see anyone else wearing that number. Plus if I was a player I would not want to be the guy to get that number next. The fans need to start pushing for the retirement of Larry’s jersey as soon as he is done.

  32. By Scott H on Dec 23, 2016 | Reply

    sarrott –

    Dude, I agree! Heck, Larry should have gone in the ring while he was still playing!

  33. By shane on Dec 23, 2016 | Reply


    Im tierd of the Palmer playoff “struggles” or “playoff choke artist” brands people keep giving him ..

    Dont you or anybody else actually take the time to look up facts ? like the fact that Carson only played in 1 playoff game before last season?? & that was in 09… he’s only 1-2 in the playoffs people act like hes Payton manning and has had 30 playoff appearances & still struggles lol

    And just to clarify his official playoff record is 1-3 even tho its stupid that they list it like that .. Because they counted his first playoff game in 06 vs the steelers when he only threw 1 pass (that was a 55 yard bomb completion btw ) before tearing his acl for the first time .. so really his record should be 1-2

    So PLEASE read this and know the truth smh it seems like nobody knows this for some reason lol

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