So far, this off-season has been one to remember. Since Ken Whisenhunt became head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2007, we have not seen a free agency period in which the Cardinals were this aggressive. They have made multiple signings at various different positions with the intent on making this football team competitive once again.
The Cardinals know that they could sign multitudes of free agents, but none of them can replace some of the talent they already have on the roster. Larry Fitzgerald was drafted by the team back in 2004 and has been one of the best players -- if not the best player -- to ever wear a Cardinals uniform.
The Cardinals are looking to keep it that way.
After the 2011 season, the contract of Larry Fitzgerald will expire. There is a clause in his current contract that states that the Cardinals are rendered incapable of placing any type of tag or tender on him, which would make him a free agent indefinitely. The only way to prevent Fitz from testing free agency is if they can get him to agree to a contract extension.
Fitzgerald loves playing in Arizona, we know that much. He continuously expresses his feelings about playing in the desert and reiterates how he wants to be a Cardinal for the rest of his career. There are truly only two things that would make him even want to consider leaving.
If the Cardinals were to try and lowball Fitzgerald into signing a contract that is not up to his status, he would probably walk. Also, if the team decided to lose it willingness to win, this would not be an ideal place for Larry to stay. Obviously, neither of these things are going to happen, so why is the front office of Arizona putting so much pressure on him to sign the extension?
GM Rod Graves recently went on PFT Live, where he had this to say:
"Our number one priority at this point is to get an extension for Larry Fitzgerald. We are prepared to make him our highest paid player in our history. We're prepared to make him one of the highest paid players in the National Football League. I see no reason why we can't get this deal in place before the start of the season."
Also, owner Michael Bidwill had this to say in a recent interview:
"I'm optimistic (we can get a deal done by the start of the season). I think Larry wants to get it done. We want to get it done. We've got the cap space. We're looking forward to working with them. I know that (GM Rod Graves) has been working on that since free agency started...I think you can get contracts done very quickly when two people are motivated. We've got a lot of motivation and I think Larry wants to get it done too."
If Larry wants to stay, he will sign the contract. With all of the recent signings and additions to the team, I would be surprised if Larry has not made up his mind already. If he believes in guys like Kevin Kolb as much as the Cardinals organization does, he will re-up his deal to remain a Cardinal for the next few seasons.
Getting Fitzgerald re-signed is the most important thing this team can do and it is Rod Graves' job. As he mentioned, they will pay Fitzgerald top dollar and other teams will not be able to outbid the Cardinals for Larry's services. Going on a tour of talk shows trying to put some pressure on him to sign before the season starts probably won't hurt the team's chances, but it probably won't help either.
Larry, Arizona wants you back and you want to be back. Why don't we skip all of the formalities and get you signed for the long term, okay?