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Love You Forever, Larry, But...

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NFL: DEC 29 Cardinals at Rams Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It goes without saying, Larry, you will always be front and center in the Mount Rushmore of my favorite Cardinals and I have always relished watching, savoring and cheering on your every snap for the past 16 years and I am beyond ecstatic to hear that you are coming back for your 17th season...

But...

This time around I was hoping that you would give the Cardinals a home town discount—-for the express purpose of giving the 2020 team the best possible chance to compete for the Lombardi Trophy.

And not just you, Larry, but every free agent who wants to return.

You see, Larry, I long to see the Cardinals—-with you—-in the playoffs again

In my opinion, you and Kurt Warner were the most clutch playoff performers in the history of the Arizona Cardinals. Your efforts in the playoffs are legendary and virtually unparalleled for the few number of playoffs games you’ve played.

Please allow me to remind you, Larry, that in 9 playoff games you caught 57 passes for 942 yards, a 16.5 average, and 10 TDs.

Please let me remind you that THIS happened:

That THIS happened:

That THIS happened:

I cannot, Larry, revisit these videos without dreaming of watching you add to your playoff legend.

But, if the Cardinals don’t surround you and the team with more talented players—-that dream deferred of watching you in the playoffs again is going to explode. Thank you, Langston Hughes.

As elated as I was to read your tweet about returning to play in 2020, the tenor of the middle sentence felt like somewhat of a concession. You wrote:

“The future is so bright for this team & I relish the opportunity to build with this talented young nucleus.”

Which is reasonable—-but—-

Please allow me yo be clear about two things:

1—-there is no monetary figure high enough that could properly compensate you for what you and your leadership mean and have meant to the Arizona Cardinals, the front office, coaches, players and fans. Let’s just get this out of the way—-if the Cardinals could win a Super Bowl and pay you $25M a year, I would be all for it.

2—-there is a recent history of young teams making the playoffs and coming close to getting to the Super Bowl, if not getting to the game itself. Sean McVay and Jared Goff got there in two years. Jimmy Garoppolo is on the verge of possibly getting there in just his 27th career start. That’s not even two full seasons of games for Jimmy G., and in one season, your young QB, Kyler Murray, has already thrown for more than half of Garoppolo’s career passing yards. Look at what Lamar Jackson did with the Ravens this year—-and look at how your Cardinals played both the 2019 #1 seeds in the AFC (Ravens) and NFC (49ers) this season—-3 tight, highly competitive games, despite the Cardinals having the worst ranked defense in the NFL.

Wouldn’t this suggest to you, Larry, that if the Cardinals make the most of their available cap space this off-season, by adding key pieces who can help make the difference between winning and losing, particularly in tight games (so many of which were winnable in 2019)—-that it’s quite possible the Cardinals could be the surprise of 2020?

I mean, Larry, imagine if you had tweeted something like this instead:

“While this may sound crazy to some, I believe my Cardinals are just a few key additions away from contending for a Super Bowl—-and I have always maintained that winning the Super Bowl is my ultimate dream and the primary reason why I play this game and why work as hard as I do—-thus, this year—-I am going to take a reduced salary so that we can make every effort to compete for the Lombardi.”

Imagine what kind of statement this would make to the organization and your teammates.

Not only would it impress them that you would make this kind of a sacrifice—-it would plant the seed that you are serious about the Cardinals winning in 2020—-that you’re not coming back just to be a part of the team building project—-No Sir. You’re coming back because the Cardinals and you have unfinished business to take care of in the playoffs.

It’s going to take this kind of sacrifice and positive thinking on the part of all the Cardinals’ players to take the next steps forward.

It also would be a refreshing statement to make to your other free agent teammates like D.J. Humphries who believes he deserves top 5 left tackle money, despite the fact that he has only played in 43 of his 80 games as Cardinal—-and to your new teammate, Kenyan Drake, who used his breathtaking 80 TD that Sean Kugler and Steve Heiden designed and the OL blocked to perfection to showcase to the world a Rod Tidwell “open the vault” and “show me the money” crescendo.

And what a statement this would make in the aftermath of a season where veterans like Terrell Suggs, D.J. Swearinger and Michael Crabtree took the Cardinals’ money and raced to the bank, while jogging through the motions on the field.

Oh, and of course, what a striking response this would be to your former teammate Josh Shaw who bet against you and the Cardinals—-while your teammate Patrick Peterson was on a six week golfing hiatus, yes, a six week tour that he was pissed the Cardinals wouldn't pay for, before he returned to the team listless and out of shape.

You know, Larry, in your 16 years with the Cardinals, you have seen a lot of dysfunction around you and deep down inside it must gall you to see front office members and teammates cutting corners and playing soft and stealing money—-and yes—-that in itself is more than a justification for reaching out to grab your hefty slice of the pie—because at least—-YOU earn it.

I totally get that, man.

But I don’t know about you, Fitz, but I am sensing that the tide is starting to shift a little with the Cardinals. I think this year NFL free agents are gong to be looking at the Cardinals in a different light. I believe that feee agents want to play with you, Kyler Murray and Chandler Jones—-and they want Kliff Kingsbury to be their coach—-not because they want to dog it—-but because they want to win and have fun doing it.

It would be shame if the money ran out too quickly and the Cardinals couldn't quite address all of the key needs that could help get them over the hump.

You know, Fitz, your young QB, Kyler Murray, has won and won big everywhere he’s played.

Why can’t he do what Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson did in their 2nd years in the NFL?

I mean check this out Larry—-now that you are back for $11M—-and let’s say T D.J. Humphries gets the $15M a year he wants, and RB Kenyan Drake gets the $6M he wants, and your 2019 co-captain on offense C A.Q. Shipley gets the $5M he wants—-plus the team makes smart and necessary moves to bring back QB2 Brett Hundley for $3M a year and puts the $2.9M 2nd rounder tender on RFA K Zane Gonzalez—-plus add in the 2020 NFL Draft rookie pool figure of $8.9M (according to Over The Cap)—-here’s the link: https://overthecap.com/draft/

Do you realize that if all this goes as hoped for and planned by your teammates and the team—-do you know what potion of the original $67M cap space remains to be able to address the needs of the defense?

$15M

That’s why, Larry, I wish this time that you would have made a sacrifice for the team—-and who knows, maybe you still could?

You could easily make up the difference in TV ads. After all, you are a beloved face of the NFL—-and everyone I've talked to loves the popular ad you did during the NFL Draft last year with D.K. Metcalf. Plus, maybe this year you could join Aaron Rogers and Patrick Mahomes on the State Farm team—-which hey, happens to be a promo for your own stadium—-a stadium that wouldn't be nearly as crowded with opposing fans, if the Cardinals start winning again.

So, yes, Larry, I was excited and jumping for joy the way these folks were when I heard the news...I just wonder and dream about what you, the team and we fans would ever look like if the Cardinals, especially with you on the field doing what only YOU do, Fitz, ever won a Super Bowl.

Larry Fitzgerald Returns for 2020

Posted by Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday, January 15, 2020

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

(Langston Hughes)

In conclusion, in light of your career earnings of over $175M (which doesn’t account for all of the millions you have made in ads and endorsements)—-you have tons of money—-

What you don’t have—-is a Super Bowl ring.

Which begs the question—-just how much does that quest mean to you and your teammates?