Over the course of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s 10-year career, he has amassed 10,883 yards receiving, 800 receptions, 82 touchdowns and three All-Pro selections.
There’s no question he has been one of the most dominant wideouts in the NFL since he entered the league in 2004.
As we all know, the Arizona Cardinals haven’t exactly done him any favors with their revolving door at the quarterback position. But such inconsistency at QB makes Fitzgerald’s accomplishments that much more impressive. The only signal-caller who helped elevate Fitz’s game was future Hall of Fame inductee Kurt Warner.
Outside of Warner, Fitzgerald has done all the heavy lifting. Any other receiver of his caliber would have whined and complained, but not Fitz. He has been a team player year in and year out. He puts his head down, goes to work and you don’t hear a peep from him.
In all fairness, those who feel sorry for Fitzgerald have every right to, because he’s not winning in the desert. Yet, the organization did award him a mega-deal back in 2011. He signed an eight-year contract that is valued at $126 million total. Of the $126 million, $27 million of the deal is fully guaranteed.
In terms of guaranteed money, this means Fitzgerald is the third-highest paid receiver in the NFL. However, money isn’t the main objective for every NFL player. Sure, money garners financial security when your playing days are over, but it’s easy to see that the seven-time Pro Bowl selection cares about winning.
According to Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, there were times in 2012 were Fitzgerald would look in the mirror and ask himself if he was doing enough to help this team win. Obviously the Cardinals had a hard time finding wins last season, yet there is only so much one player can do.
It’s an old cliché, but it’s true, football is the ultimate team sport.
This, in turn, leads me to an ever-so-relevant question that seemingly looms when the trade deadline rolls around: Is Fitzgerald helping head coach Bruce Arians and Co. win games, or would Arizona be wise to trade him before the Oct. 29 league-imposed deadline?
That is the million-dollar question right now.
In days past, rumors have started to spread like wildfire that Fitzgerald could be on the trading block, via Gregg Rosenthal NFL.com. This notion is not entirely crazy based on the receiver’s age. But, at the moment, suitors appear to be few and far between.
It’s not exactly easy to trade a player who carries a $10.25 million cap number. Plus, the Cardinals are still in playoff contention at 4-4. In fact, based on their standing in the NFC, they are only one game out as wild-card contenders. Why would general manager Steve Keim trade a player who could help the franchise make its first playoff appearance since 2009?
He wouldn’t: Here’s what Keim told Arizona Sports 620 (radio station) on Oct. 28, via Josh Weinfuss ESPN.com:
I can tell you two things, and I want to make this clear and simple—I have not had one conversation with another NFL team regarding a trade with Larry Fitzgerald.
Number two, starting with [Cardinals president] Michael Bidwill on down, it is our intent for Larry Fitzgerald to retire a Cardinal. Period. If there is any gray area there, let me know, and we can get that out.
Nonetheless, some may believe Keim is saving face this season and may be willing to trade Fitzgerald this coming offseason. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweeted on the morning of Oct. 27 that a trade for the longtime Cardinal could happen at the end of the season.
For those of you who want to see Fitz moved, this scenario makes more sense. Why? Because the organization wouldn’t have to absorb the $10.25 million cap number attached to his name. It’s not like Fitzgerald wouldn’t have a market prior to the 2014 season.
Honestly, his trade value may actually increase from now until then. If he churns out a 1,000-yard season and Arizona makes the playoffs, teams will take notice. Consistently great wide receivers aren’t easy to come by in the NFL.
Shoot, adding a future Hall of Famer to your roster isn’t an opportunity teams get everyday. The Cardinals would not only be able to collect draft picks for Fitzgerald, but they would be able to move him and his salary without any repercussions.
This would be great news for a front office that currently carries a salary cap number of $119.2 million.
But, what does Fitzgerald think of all this trade nonsense? For the most part, he has been silent on the issue, but he did offer up his thoughts to AZCentral.com’s Bob McManaman after Arizona’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons:
I come to work every day and just focus on how I can help the Arizona Cardinals and help my team win. If they decide to move me, that happens. I have no control over any of that. I just focus on what I can do to improve and help my team.
Typical Fitzgerald answer—he doesn’t let anything faze him. He takes all the hearsay in stride and continues to do what he does best, deliver on Sundays.
With eight games left to play, it would be best if emerging storylines and trade rumors would just fall to the wayside. It's clear Fitzgerald will be with the Cardinals for the foreseeable future, and that’s a good thing.
In the midst of a playoff run, Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer will need every weapon possible in their arsenal.
When the time comes, Keim will be prepared to make a decision on Fitzgerald’s future. Fortunately for Cardinals fans, that time is still a ways away.