This season was among the most fun of my career. The future is so bright for this team & I relish the opportunity to build with this talented young nucleus.— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) January 15, 2020
Arizona is where I started and where I will finish. 2020! Let's get to work!#GoCards #RedSea @AZCardinals pic.twitter.com/ftNd85iFRj
Larry is back for a 17th season. What are the three biggest takeaways? Let’s take a look at how it will affect the 2020 season:
#1. Wide Receiver is still a need but not a desperate one
If Fitzgerald had hung it up, Arizona’s wide receiver core looks like this:
- WR1: 2nd round (mostly) slot WR Christian Kirk
- WR2: Damiere Byrd
- WR3: Slot WR Pharoh Cooper
- 2nd round pick slot WR Andy Isabella
- 4th round 2nd year player Hakeem Butler
- 6th round pick KeeSean Johnson
Essentially the Cards would have had, arguably, the worst receiving core in the NFL as far as production is concerned and it might not be close. Fitz is just that consistent and, still, is an impact player making big catches for the team.
Without that return, you’re assuming that Arizona would be signing another free agent to replace him but a team that’s looking to fill holes would now be having to patch up a new one.
Instead of having to rely on a combination of Cooper/Isabella and Butler to replace Fitzgerald’s role AND add another wide receiver or two, they get a year of respite.
And if AZ does indeed decide they want to look for the heir apparent to Fitzgerald in the draft at #8 overall, they’ll be able to have him learn from the best for at minimum one season.
2. The contract signed for $11 million obviously impacts AZ’s ability to sign other free agents in replacement because...that’s what signings do
This is pretty simple to understand, and while there’s plenty of Cardinals fans who would like to see the 37 year old play for a $5 million deal, he’s still at a caliber of a player who wouldn’t want that money. It pushes Arizona, currently, from top 6-7 in cap room into the teens. That said—many of the teams in front of them have other pressing needs to add or re-sign (example: Dallas Cowboys with Dak and Amari) where the team will still have free cash to play around with on the market.
It’s a decent addition as well in terms of consistency. To this point, you’re not taking an $11 million a year chance on a DeSean Jackson who missed the whole season or potentially underperforms or busts out as other free agent wide receivers at that age have been prone to do.
It does show, of course, that there’s always a cost when bringing Fitz back. Is it too much of a cost?
3. No, it’s not too much of a cost
Ultimately, there’s a reason why:
- Larry Fitzgerald keeps playing on 1 year deals for $11 million a year
- Michael Bidwill easily keeps signing those checks
It’s because it’s worth it to both of them. To Fitz, it’s worth putting his body on the line for more than perhaps a “market value” would be worth.
Good point. For those not loving the price, I want to put it this way. Is quibbling over a couple of millions of dollars worth potential hard feelings at the end of his career? $11M was a bargain for his 100-catch seasons. https://t.co/gyXn4QxgcW— Jess Root (@senorjessroot) January 15, 2020
And to Bidwill it’s worth probably MORE than that to have a player the caliber of Larry Fitzgerald returning and playing for the Arizona Cardinals not just for life but also for what he means emotionally, physically and leadership-wise to the organization. AND importantly the fact that the Cardinals, really, don’t have any position for leverage.
Fitz has it all since under Steve Keim, they have struggled to find wide receivers post Bruce Arians and even the guys they did have in Floyd and John Brown are, well, no longer with them and had flopped by the end of their rookie deals.
Some fans will disagree but...would you rather see Larry walk?
Especially without anyone to replace him. It’s one thing if John Brown and Michael Floyd had panned out and were putting up 1,000 yard seasons or Christian Kirk was lighting it up like a JuJu Smith-Schuster. It’s another when it’s your 2nd or 3rd best playmaker on offense after Kyler Murray.
And while many would disagree, I think the excited reaction to Fitz returning says it all.
The only question that remains is...will he still be the unquestioned WR1 for the team at the end of 2020? Because if he is, there will be a lot of questions and probably a lot more losses to endure to land at that end result. I, for one, hope for wins and a riding off into the sunset finish for the man.
He deserves it.