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.)
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald
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