When the Arizona Cardinals hit radio row on Thursday January 30th, Larry Fitzgerald said the words some Cardinals fans were longing to hear, and others were dreading... "Absolutely," he answered. "If that's what's needed to be done, that's what's needed to be done."
With that the wheels of motion have started to turn amongst Cardinals fans, is Larry willing to restructure his deal, but as Kent Somers reported at the end of 2013, he's not willing to take a pay cut.
"The Cardinals haven’t approached Fitzgerald’s agent, Eugene Parker, about restructuring the contract, but they will. Negotiations will be interesting because Fitzgerald isn’t going to take a pay cut," Somers wrote.
That's obviously a good thing in the short term for the Arizona Cardinals, as freeing up money for the 2014 season is a priority, as the Cardinals don't have much in the way of available assets going into the off season, but do have a laundry list of needs to attend to in the 2014 offseason.
Fitzgerald's willingness to "do the right thing" in terms for the team is admirable, but the reality is it is a short term fix to a long term problem, but that isn't what this is about.
This is about the Cardinals laying it out there, their short term plan that is, and showing their cards so to speak.
With Fitzgerald taking base salary and willing to covert it to guaranteed monies later in the contract, the Cardinals are freeing up money for the immediate.
Freeing up that money is absolutely necessary, as it makes them players in free agency for exactly two high profile players, Karlos Dansby and a left tackle.
This is important because it shows the fans that the Cardinals and this regime are going "all in" to compete in 2014 and 2015 for a Super Bowl.
They are willing to pay down the line in guaranteed money to an older Larry Fitzgerald, in order to get a run in for the 2014 and 2015 season.
The Cardinals are allegedly willing to go up to two years on a contract offer to Dansby at this juncture, so unless another team is willing to go for more money on a one-year deal than what the Cardinals will offer Dansby on a two-year deal, then things should get done.
The other conundrum is the left tackle position.
While Bruce Arians is on record as saying, "left tackle isn't a high priority," Steve Keim is the GM and makes the overall decisions on what the team looks like.
There are three names that have been bandied about: Branden Albert, Anthony Collins and Jared Veldeheer, so we will see if that is something that comes to fruition, but if the Cardinals restructure Larry, those are the likely two positions the Cardinals will attack with "big money".
The oddity of this is the fact that in restructuring Fitzgerald the Cardinals are just pushing the problem to another day, while going "all in" while the Seahawks and 49ers are still in comfortable control of their rosters.
The 49ers have another year of Colin Kaepernick for cheap, the Seahawks have Russell Wilson for two.
The Cardinals brass is saying that keeping Dansby and adding a left tackle, while also adding through the draft, will get the Cardinals over the proverbial hump of beating the 49ers and Seahawks, the teams that own the division at this juncture.
That's a ballsy, and in fans' eyes, true statement.
There's nothing wrong with going all in right now, but the problem may come later on.
If the Cardinals are putting money down the line with Fitzgerald, but also say, adding Branden Albert, there comes a problem in the long term.
The Cardinals will have decisions to make on players like Carson Palmer, Patrick Peterson, and Dan Williams after the 2014 season.
If Palmer is the "long-term" option he'll need a new contract, say adding on 2-3 years after '14, Peterson needs a new contract, the Cardinals will have guys like Michael Floyd, Tyrann Mathieu, and any other 2013 draft pick not named Jonathan Cooper, up for new contracts at the same time, while still paying Fitz and whoever the LT they bring in is.
The longer you push off "Paying the Piper" or in this case Larry Fitzgerald, the harder things get down the line.
Now, all of this is moot if Fitzgerald takes a pay cut, but that's likely not to happen at this juncture and, until it comes to fruition, then let's just keep that on the back burner.
Of course none of this matters if the Cardinals win a Super Bowl in that two-year window, it'll just result in a mini version of the 2001 Diamondbacks where they'll be paying for that success years down the road, but if it doesn't work, in a division where the Seahawks and 49ers still hold all the "Cards", at least for another two seasons, it'll be a mess to clean up.
But that's another discussion for another day.