A recent FanPost posed the question whether some comments made by a supposed Arizona Cardinals team insider have something more to read into. This insider, when asked if Marc Bulger would be enough of an upgrade at quarterback to satisfy Larry Fitzgerald enough to sign a new deal with the Cardinals said this:
"I think Bulger might satisfy Fitz, provided the Cardinals pay him a boatload. He likes (Coach Ken) Whisenhunt. But Fitz is a hard guy to read. He knows how to turn on the charm and answer questions. It's hard to find out what he's really thinking."
The word "boatload" is a bit scary. However, I believe this statement to be a bit misleading. It was going to take a boatload of money to re-sign him, regardless of who the quarterback is.
Football business is all about leverage, as it is with almost any business. In Fitzgerald's case, he has all of it. His contract is up after the 2011 season. In his contract, he has a no-trade clause and he also has a stipulation that keeps the team from placing a "franchise" tag on him.
He will want a long-term deal and it will make him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. Cardinals writer Darren Urban has stated this more than once.
Now the desire to be paid should not deter us as fans from his intentions on the field. There has never been even a second in his career that would indicate that he is interested in anything else other than winning. He does not play the diva card that other receivers do. He wants to win. He does not want to play out the rest of his career without a chance to make it to the Super Bowl again.
But, just to be clear, he has also never been a guy to downplay the business side.
I apologize that I could not find the link, but I recall an interview he did, it had to have been right around the time that Hines Ward re-upped with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009. Wards made some comments in an interview to the fact that giving up some amount of money (it had to have been in the five million range) to play for the team he wanted and for a chance to be contending every year was worth it. He said something stating that the decision is easy. Playing in a good situation was worth way more than millions of dollars.
Fitz did an interview with some local station right around the same time. When asked to respond to Wards' comments, he responded, stating that he didn't know. He said that it was a lot of "green" to turn down. It was really revealing to me to hear that. I have no problem with his wanting to be paid. Who doesn't?
When it comes to the business side of things, that has been the one time he has revealed much. He has been very tight-lipped otherwise. The downside to this is that we as fans have translated that into the idea that he will be willing to get paid less to stay.
He wants to stay, but he wants to be paid and he wants the team to be a playoff contender.
He does want to win. He just wants to go about it smartly.
So if a lockout happens, or even if it does not, don't get too antsy for a new deal for No. 11. He wants to see how the cards are played before he makes his move. But if the Cardinals do make personnel improvements, he will be back and he will be the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. In the end, he knows that playing in this division is one of the best ways to make it into the playoffs.