The talk of the Arizona Cardinals and whether or not receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be back in 2015 will be a frequent topic of discussion over the next several weeks until the team comes to a decision with the roster bonus he is due in March.
Head coach Bruce Arians was asked about Fitz on his final weekly radio spot on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, and Arians answered with a mix of love and reality.
"I love Larry. I think he brings a ton to the table, a lot of energy and a lot of leadership. The more we have success offensively, the more balls there are to go around. But to think of him of the days 10 years ago with 120 catches and all that, I'm sure those days are gone," Arians told Dan Bickley and Vince Marotta on the air.
"Eighty catches and a big part of the offense? Yeah, he's still a big part of that."
Arians clearly doesn't see Fitz as the dominating player he was a few years ago. He isn't the focal point of the offense. He believes he can still be very productive, but it is clear Arians is not ever going to use Fitz as the number one go-to receiver.
And that is how his offense works. It is about spreading the ball around. Now, that was also the case with Kurt Warner and Ken Whisenhunt, but he still managed to put up some fantastic numbers.
But as for Larry Fitzgerald the star, it seems that part is gone in Arizona.
Fitz wants a lot of things. He wants to win. He wants to get paid. He is concerned with his legacy and wants to be a a Hall of Famer.
He is now on a winning team. He has been paid a lot. Will he ever be a big enough part of this offense to produce at the level he wants to reach his Canton aspirations? And will the salary number he has in mind match up with the salary number the Cardinals want to keep him at?
That is the question moving forward.
2014 was his worst year since his rookie season. He had a career-low two touchdowns. He had fewer receptions and yards than any season other than his rookie year.
He has been hampered by injuries over the last two season.
At the same time, through nine games this season, he was on pace to have 78 catches and over 1100 yards. He was looking like the Fitz who was the clear number one on the team. But Carson Palmer's torn ACL and Fitz' sprained knee ligaments all but tanked his production the rest of the way.
Is there any way Fitz can have the production and role he wants here? That remains to be seen. Is he valuable enough to pay like a top receiver in the game if he isn't producing like a top receiver?
That's the big question.