As the Arizona Cardinals didn’t have their fairy tale ending to their magical season, the biggest talks have now been whether or not Larry Fitzgerald will return to the team next season.
Have we seen Larry’s last games in Cardinal red?
According to Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim, the team has no plan to cut Fitzgerald and have already factored in the $23.6 million cap for the 2015 season.
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While that may seem like great news for Cardinal fans, it really isn’t the best news. How is news that the team has no plan to cut one of the best receivers in the league bad? Well, if the Cardinals were to keep Fitzgerald at the current price he’s at, the Cardinals would have almost nothing to work with to sign free agents and/or re-sign players for next season.
Because of this issue, the Cardinals and Fitzgerald according to reports are negotiating a new deal.
Fitzgerald has always been all about the team. Former teammate Kurt Warner stated, “I think there’s no question that Larry would be willing to take less (money) if he felt completely content in the situation. But a guy like Larry doesn’t want to be in a diminished role.”
The past two seasons under Bruce Arians haven’t been the best for Fitzgerald as he’s been taking on new roles within the team, while wide receiver Michael Floyd has been getting all the big plays, alongside wide receiver John Brown.
In last year’s season, Fitzgerald was targeting 135 times, while he was just targeted 103 times this past season. The previous years, Fitzgerald was never targeted under 150 times.
While statistics may show that Fitzgerald’s role has diminished, especially through the quarterback troubles, he is still the captain of the Cardinals through everyone’s eyes. He means so much to the Cardinals; the leadership and positive energy one can bring to a team is truly phenomenal.
In just the two games he missed this season, the Cardinals looked so confused on offense and had absolutely no flow. Fitzgerald not only is the first to run to his teammates after a huge play, he sets his teammates up for those big plays and is one of the most selfless players in the league.
Nov 16, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd (15) celebrates with receivers Larry Fitzgerald (11) and John Brown (12) after scoring on a 12-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
When speaking yesterday on NFL Live, Fitz was asked whether or not he was going to be in Cardinal red next season.
"Fitzgerald replied with “I don’t know. We’re going to get into it here within the next couple of weeks and try to figure something out. It’s been a great run here in Arizona. I appreciate everything the Bidwell family has done for me, giving me the chance to live my dream, and playing under Coach Arians has been great.” He then finished with,” Hopefully we can hash something out.”"
While Fitz seems to be talking in past tense when it comes to him being a Cardinal, he also sounds very optimistic that they’ll work something out like they have before.
Larry’s former teammate Adrian Wilson was interviewed by Jody Oehler and Mike Jurecki on Fox Sports Radio 910 on Monday about all this chaos. Wilson had a lot of positivity about Fitzgerald staying a Cardinal.
"“I don’t feel he’ll go anywhere else and play,” Wilson stated. “I just feel like if they can’t get it done, he’ll retire. I have that much faith in how Larry is as a person and how loyal he is as a person.”"
Arizona and its fans will just have to play the waiting game and pray that the front office can work their magic to keep Fitzgerald in Arizona red.