When Larry Fitzgerald agreed to a restructured contract, it saved the Arizona Cardinals a lot of salary cap space for 2014. It also paid him a lot of money up front. He is getting all the money he was due to have ($12.75 million), only he is getting $11.75 million of it now, rather than through the season. His 2014 salary will be a mere $1 million.
It saved the Cardinals about $10 million against the cap.
It did, though, make 2015 a very interesting offseason for Arizona. It looks like 2014 will perhaps be the final one for Fitzgerald here.
Fitz' cap number in 2015 balloons to $23.6 million -- an astronomical number. According to Spotrac, Fitz' contract would still hold over $14.4 million of dead money against the cap.
Mike Jurecki reported that part of his 2015 money includes an $8 million roster bonus, which is to be paid if he is on the roster on the fifth day of the new league year.
Just looking at the contract numbers, it seems impossible for Arizona to keep Fitzgerald beyond 2014.
There is always the possibility that his contract is restructured again, but that would simply push the problem to another year or two out, unless there was a pay cut included.
Now, what even points to a Fitz release next offseason before his roster bonus comes due is the fact that a team could release him before his roster bonus is due, but then also designate him as a June 1 cut. Teams are allowed to designate up to two players each year as a June 1 cut even when they cut them before that date, allowing the cap hit of dead money to be spread over two seasons. Two seasons of $7 million in dead money could be more bearable than one of over $14 million, which certainly is a lot less than the more than $23 million his being on the roster would cost the team in cap space.
Now, going back to the possible pay cut, it seems unlikely. However, Adrian Wilson agreed to a big pay cut before the 2012 season, even though he was in the middle of his contract. But that situation was different. He understood where he was in his career. He ended up getting less playing time and was eventually released the following offseason, before signing with the Patriots, only to land on injured reserve. Whether he will return in 2014 is yet to be determined.
Fitz, if he is released next offseason, will have plenty of suitors. He plans on playing for many more seasons.
Arizona feels that the team that they have is "really close," meaning that they believe that they will be competing for a Super Bowl this season with the right moves. Fitz is still integral to that. That is why releasing him this offseason didn't make sense.
Success or failure for the team in 2014, it does look like it could be the last one in Arizona for perhaps the team's greatest player in history.
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