Worried about Larry Fitzgerald’s contract? Just listen to the man
Maybe I should be worried about Larry Fitzgerald.
breaking news reported by ESPN Monday (and every other media outlet three years ago), alerting the world to the fact that, without a contract extension, the Pro Bowler will be a free agent upon the conclusion of the 2011 season was discussed ad nauseam.
While the Cardinals are trying to work out a deal, it is the player who holds all the leverage, once again. The Cardinals went through a similar scenario in 2008, finally agreeing to an extension that gave the receiver pretty much everything he wanted – including a guarantee that the franchise tag would not be used on him once his contract expired.
And yet, I’m not concerned.
Look, Fitzgerald leaving would be bad. Real bad. Think Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone bad. That is no secret to anyone, and is precisely what has people so concerned.
But here’s the thing: Fitzgerald has made no secret of his desire to stay in Arizona.
“I always wanted to finish my career as an Arizona Cardinal; I really enjoy playing for this organization.”
Those are Fitzgerald’s words, and I’m not sure why we worry so much about his sincerity. The 27-year-old has been nothing but honest since joining the team in 2004, and if he says he wants to stay there’s a good bet he means it.
Of course, it takes two to complete a contract, and the Cardinals appear ready to do whatever it takes to keep their player happy and in Arizona. If they were planning on playing games and trying to get a discounted rate, Rod Graves must have failed ‘Negotiating 101′ whenhe said, “We are prepared to make Larry the highest-paid player in our history and we are prepared to make him one of the highest-paid players in the National Football League.”
So if Fitzgerald wants to stay and the Cardinals want to keep him, where exactly would the holdup be?
Well, Fitz has been clear about his desire to play for a winner.
Reaching the Super Bowl a few years ago was great for all, but gave Fitzgerald a glimpse of the NFL’s pinnacle. After falling to the base of the mountain last season, he wants to ascend once again. Though a great player, the receiver understands he can’t do it alone.
And that’s where this off-season came into play.
The Cardinals set out to make their team better not only because they wanted to improve on their 5-win season of a year ago, but also show their star how committed they are to winning. Granted, we won’t know how successful they truly were until the games start to count, but the early returns are promising.
Take, for instance, the big move to land Kevin Kolb. While I’m not necessarily a fan of the QB, Fitzgerald clearly is. Sure, things could go south for Kolb, but it’s hard for anyone to see that happening at this very moment.
You can say the optimism is due to “training camp-colored glasses” if you want, but the truth is it’s hard not to be excited about the Arizona Cardinals right now.
It’s hard not to see this team being better than last year’s disaster, and you have to think their ceiling is rather high. By all accounts, Fitzgerald feels the exact same way. Why would he want to leave now, when things are on the upswing? He wouldn’t. He doesn’t.
So, rather than stress over fears that the team’s best and most important player is going to leave for New England, Minnesota or wherever, let’s take a moment to actually listen to what the guy is saying.