As of now, Larry Fitzgerald is under contract to play for the Arizona Cardinals next season.
However, as most already know, it’s not quite that simple.
Fitzgerald is scheduled to count $23.6 million against the team’s 2015 salary cap, and having that on the books would limit what the Cardinals could do in terms of signing other players to help improve the roster.
With Fitzgerald due an $8 million roster bonus in March, the general thought is something — a restructure, trade or release — will happen in the next couple of months.
As far as anyone knows, Fitzgerald has little desire to play elsewhere, and the Cardinals have said many times over the last few weeks that they plan on keeping their all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
But with Fitzgerald coming off as season in which he caught just 63 passes for 784 yards and two touchdowns and not the player he once was, some believe he’s likely to be playing elsewhere next season.
ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, as a guest of Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday, said that losing Fitzgerald would be painful, but not disastrous for the team’s on-field chances.
“I believe with the leadership now, the system in place for a couple years,” he said. “Bruce Arians knows how to build a football team, as does Steve Keim.
“You never want to lose a guy like Larry Fitzgerald, he’s one of the greatest players of all time, he’s one of the best character players you could want on your team and a locker room leader. All those things. Hall of Fame talent, Hall of Fame person.”
Since being selected by the Cardinals third overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, Fitzgerald has caught 909 passes for 12,151 yards and 80 touchdowns. He has been to the Pro Bowl eight times, and been the face of the franchise as it has turned its fortunes around.
“But the end does come for everybody, and I’m not saying Larry’s done — there may be a role for him somewhere else, probably less of a financial hit that a team’s going to have to take to have him on that team,” he added. “I believe it will be somewhere else. When you look at the Cardinals now, they’re going to be looking for younger, faster guys they can build for the long-haul with.”