Contract Negotiations: Should the Arizona Cardinals Trade Larry Fitzgerald?

Mike LangthorneContributor IIJanuary 13, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 2:  Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals catches a touchdown against the San Francisco 49er during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on January 2, 2011 in San Francisco, California.(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

There is very little question that the 2010 season was extremely disappointing for the Arizona Cardinals. There is also very little debate that there needs to be a cleansing of sorts in order to get this organization back on the right track.

While at first glance the mere suggestion of dealing away an organizations only premier player may seem blasphemous, it may end up being the only way to restore respectability to this franchise.

There is no question that Larry Fitzgerald resides comfortably among the upper echelon of wide receiver talent when compared against his peers. His uncanny ability to get to the ball, run crisp and efficient routes, and position himself to make the clutch catch when needed are just some of the qualities that make him the tremendous player he has become.

Unfortunately, those individual qualities alone won't bring the Arizona Cardinals a championship banner. There are far too many holes on both sides of the football that need to be addressed in order for both Rod Graves and Ken Whisenhunt to get their ship back on course, paramount of those concerns being the reconfiguration of their offensive line.

In short, their collective inability to either provide adequate pass protection or run blocking throughout the year should be seen as the main reason behind the offensive ineptitude of the Arizona Cardinals.

Without a concerted effort within the organization to shore up the front line, the results stand to be unchanged come next season regardless of who is taking snaps under center.

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So if the offensive line is the reason behind the shortcomings of the Cardinals offense, why trade away your best player?  Quite simply, by dealing your one true asset you stand to receive multiple chips in return. Those chips can then be used to address the glaring needs that have been previously identified.

Fitzgerald is coming into his contract year. By providing the acquiring team with the ability to negotiate a long-term deal prior to him hitting the open market should be seen as a bargaining chip in their discussions.

Keep in mind, the language in Fitzgerald’s current contract contains both a no-trade clause and a prohibitive clause against the intentions of the organization to use the franchise tag at the conclusion of the 2011 season, which if exercised, would require the team to pay Fitzgerald a guaranteed base salary of $23 million.

In other words, he is in the position of power at the negotiating table. By all accounts he's not concerned with the allure of personal accolades; he is looking for a team that can win championships regardless of his loyal devotion to both the organization and his legions of fans.

With that being said, a team that has produced only three winning seasons since moving to Phoenix in 1988 alluding to the prospects of future championships during their negotiation period is going to be nothing short of an extremely tough sell.

If the recently reported ongoing contract negotiations are to fall through, are the Bidwell’s willing to let their one true asset walk away at year’s end without receiving anything in return? 

Will there be uproar in the Valley? Without question.

But letting the Arizona fanbase, a transient and fickle one at that, dictate personnel moves would be an even bigger travesty.

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