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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Nov 1, 2011 - 2:35 pm

Is Fitzgerald's contract handcuffing Cardinals?

There is no doubt whom the "face of the franchise" is for the Arizona Cardinals.

It's Larry Fitzgerald.

Not only is Fitzgerald one of the most talented and feared wide receivers in the league, but he's also very visible as the Cardinals' ambassador to the community. It's for those reasons that general manager Rod Graves signed Fitzgerald, who was entering the last year of his contract, to a massive 8-year, $120 million deal that guaranteed the receiver around $50 million.

At the time, the deal, while rich, was viewed almost universally as the right thing for the Cardinals' organization to do. A few weeks earlier they had traded for quarterback Kevin Kolb and rewarded him with a gaudy five-year contract. The Kolb-Fitzgerald combo was supposed to be the cornerstone of the plan to elevate the Cardinals to the top of the NFC West once again.

That was late August.

Now in early November, the Cardinals are sporting a 1-6 record, Kolb is struggling, and people are wondering why Fitzgerald isn't a more dominant factor in the offense. Fitz is not currently in the top 20 in the league in receptions or targets. In games around the NFL last Sunday, 62 players had more passes thrown their way than the five that Kolb directed toward Fitzgerald.

There seems to be a building sentiment that Fitzgerald's deal is actually hurting the Cardinals.

Among those building the sentiment are Arizona Sports 620 hosts Dave Burns and John Gambadoro, who discussed the topic on Tuesday's show.

"If Larry Fitzgerald is going to get that type of money, he's got to catch 7 or 8 passes per game," Gambadoro said. "They've played seven games and he's got two touchdowns. For $50 million in guaranteed money, you're probably going to get four touchdowns out of Larry Fitzgerald, maybe five. It's not good enough. It's just not good enough."

Gambadoro also points to the fact that the contract extension was placed so high on the priority list for the Cardinals in preparation for the season, that it crippled the team's efforts to sign a legitimate veteran number two receiver to line up opposite of Fitzgerald.

"You paid so much money to one guy, you've got no money left for anybody else and you've got holes all over the place," he said.

Burns brought up that former Cardinal receiver Steve Breaston, who wasn't re-signed by the team and hooked on with Kansas City as a free agent, is making his mark with the Chiefs, where the other Arizona receivers haven't produced.

"You know how many catches Steve Breaston has had in the month of October?" Burns asked. "Sixteen. You know how many catches Andre Roberts had in the month of October? Four."

Point made.

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