Larry Fitzgerald’s big contract is a big deal for the Arizona Cardinals

Aug 22, 2011, 4:49 AM | Updated: 10:54 pm

Eight years, $120 million, $50 million guaranteed.

The numbers are staggering for any player, let alone a
wide receiver.

And you know what? Larry Fitzgerald is worth every penny.

The contract given to the 27-year-old seems awfully
generous for a player who, at most, will touch the ball
what, 10 times in a given game?

There’s a thought that quarterbacks are the only players
who should get paid as handsomely as Fitzgerald, and it’s
a completely understandable line of thinking. We know all
too well the importance of having stability at that
position, and it makes complete sense to spend as much as
possible to acquire someone of an elite caliber.

For any Cardinals fan concerned that this deal will hinder
the team’s ability to get that signal caller, I assure you
it won’t. After all, either Kevin Kolb is that guy (and
he’s signed through 2016) or the team will have to find
their guy through the draft. Either way, Fitz’s new deal
won’t become a problem when it comes to the team’s QB

In fact, one could say locking Fitzgerald up long term
makes Arizona an appealing landing spot for any QB. After
all, who wouldn’t want to throw to a guy who has 613
catches and 65 touchdowns in his first seven seasons?

Kolb himself has already seen first-hand how much better
life is when Fitzgerald is on the field, as the wideout
has made a couple of awe-inspiring catches in two
preseason contests. We’ve almost become accustom to plays
like that from Fitzgerald, and that right there should
tell you something about how special a talent the player

But that’s only part of where Fitzgerald’s on-field value

Back to the idea that a receiver, on a good day, only
touches the ball maybe 10 times. Ten touches are not worth
the kind of money Fitz got, right? Well, while defenses
focus on No. 11, other players are getting favorable
matchups and, hopefully, exploiting the defense.

Hell, Fitzgerald’s presence alone makes life easier for
everyone else on the field, whether it be the quarterback
who has a great target to throw to, the running back who
doesn’t have to worry about the safety in the box or the
receiver who will NEVER face double coverage.

Indeed, Fitzgerald’s accomplishments are
unrivaled in Arizona Cardinals history, but retaining the
wideout may hold as much value off the field as it does on
it. The face of the franchise, Fitzgerald is a great
ambassador for the team, and his impact is felt as much
off the field as on it.

Take, for instance, this tweet I received shortly after
the extension was announced:

@theAdamGreen the trade for Kolb,
signing Fitz, paying Dockett and A-Dub. The Cards are a
legit franchise now. Feels great.
less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad Favorite Retweet Reply

“The Cards are a legit franchise now. Feels great.”

The battle of perception is one the Cardinals have been
fighting for pretty much their entire existence, and if
the signings of Wilson and Dockett, combined with the
trade for Kolb were not enough to convince someone that
these are not the “Same Old Cardinals,” paying Fitzgerald
certainly should.

Because, while drafting a great player is one thing,
keeping him around is a completely different animal. The
Cardinals are notorious for watching stars leave for
greener pastures, but by showing Fitz the green the team
made sure this one stuck around.

And that, my friends, cannot be understated.

All throughout the contract talks Fitzgerald made it clear
that winning was one of his top priorities. Sure, he
wanted to get paid, but the guy knew he’d make bank no
matter where he played next season. That Fitz decided to
stay in the Valley for the next eight years is a sign he
is confident the Cardinals will not only try to win – but
actually do it.

That is an important message to send, not only to fans but
to players as well. Suddenly the Arizona Cardinals are
more than just a team that will give you one last payday
(hello, Emmitt Smith); they are an organization that
will do what it takes to win football games.

Whether Fitzgerald is making plays on the field and taking
attention away from the team’s other weapons or helping
to recruit top-flight talent to the desert, winning just
became easier and much more likely.

Think about it, Cardinals fans: there is now an NFL
superstar who made the choice to play his prime seasons
for the Arizona Cardinals.

As the fans know, you can’t put a price on that.

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Larry Fitzgerald’s big contract is a big deal for the Arizona Cardinals