Put down your forks and knives, fellow NFL fans. Star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is not available.
In an excellent blog yesterday, the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers noted more than just his star ability and the revenue he brings to the Arizona Cardinals as reasons why Fitz won't be traded to another NFL team this offseason. The Cardinals simply can't afford to trade him, as he will leave a giant hit against the cap behind with his departure.
Somers said this in his post:
In August of 2011, Fitzgerald signed an extension that includes a $10 million signing bonus and a $15 million option bonus. For cap purposes, those numbers are prorated through the contract.
At least $15 million of Fitzgerald's bonuses have yet to be accounted for under the salary cap. I won't get into some of the arcane cap rules, but if the Cardinals traded Fitzgerald, they would still be on the hook for that $15 million.
So, yes, they could trade Fitzgerald. His contract doesn't have a no-trade clause, something his previous one did. But the cap hit would be $15 million. That's a large sum, even if the team was able to spread it over more than one season.
That is $15 million that would be completely unavailable to the Cardinals next season. They cannot sign other players with it, pay coaches, or anything. It is just dead money.
So why would the Cardinals trade away the best receiver in franchise history only for them to not be able to use the money his trade would ideally open up? Sure, they could bring in a nice haul of draft picks, players and dishwashers for his services, but then they are left without a face of the franchise.
Fitz isn't going anywhere. It never made sense for him to, anyhow. But at least now, we can put this all to bed.