Cards coach Steve Wilks announces Larry Fitzgerald is coming back
The Arizona Cardinals’ offseason has been dotted by a great deal of uncertainty.
The franchise has already seen its head coach retire, a subsequent coaching search that landed Steve Wilks and the retirement of its quarterback Carson Palmer.
There was also the matter of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s future — would he come back for another season?
The wait on the answer is over.
“It’s a very exciting time for all of us. To all the Arizona Cardinals fans around the world, it’s very exciting because Larry mentioned to me last night that he is coming back for the 2018 season,” Wilks told Doug & Wolf Thursday morning on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station during Newsmakers Week.
“I’m extremely excited,” Wilks continued. “You’re talking about a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. I couldn’t be more excited to have Larry coming back next year. He is totally committed — those are his words — so we’re excited and ecstatic to have him part of the Arizona Cardinals.”
Fitzgerald commences his attempts to move up the NFL receiving record lists.
Wilks said Fitzgerald called him Wednesday night to inform the first-year coach he is committed to the Cardinals despite the team having a hole at the quarterback position.
“Personally, I felt honored, to be honest, to know he is really committed to coming back, understanding right now that of course we don’t have a quarterback on the roster,” Wilks said. “Again, it just shows you his character and the kind of person he is.”
He is currently third all-time in receiving yards (15,545) and receptions (1,234), and eighth in receiving touchdowns (110). Fitzgerald sits 389 yards short of Terrell Owens (15,934) for second on the all-time receiving yards list and is 91 receptions from catching Tony Gonzalez, who is also second in NFL history.
Fitzgerald owns numerous NFL records, including the most seasons with 90 or more receptions (eight) and the most receptions (30), receiving yards (546) and touchdowns (eight) in one postseason.
In 2017, Fitzgerald’s 109 catches for 1,156 yards made him only the second player in league history to post at least 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards seasons in back-to-back-to-back campaigns beyond the age of 30.
.@LarryFitzgerald informed HC Wilks last night that he’s returning for 2018!
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) February 15, 2018
A battered offensive line and an injured Palmer didn’t stop Fitzgerald from producing Pro Bowl numbers in 2017. In Week 16, his last game at University of Phoenix Stadium, he surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the ninth time in his career, ranking him third all-time, trailing only Jerry Rice (14) and Moss (10). He is now tied with Tim Brown, Terrell Owens and Jimmy Smith.
He also added to his receptions total, surpassing 100 catches on a 13-yard touchdown and becoming the oldest player to reach both receiving and reception marks. He has three straight seasons and five in his career with more than 100 catches.
At the age of 34, Fitzgerald was relied upon perhaps more than any other year of his career. He had over triple the amount of the team’s second-leading pass catchers Andre Ellington and Jermaine Gresham, who both caught 33 balls.
As for the receivers, Jaron Brown had 31 catches, J.J. Nelson had 29 and John Brown finished with 21.
Fitzgerald caught 68 percent of his targets while Nelson checked in at 48 percent, Jaron Brown at 45 percent and John Brown only caught 38 percent of his targets.
Fitzgerald came to Arizona in the 2004 NFL Draft as the third overall pick out of the University of Pittsburgh. He reached Pro Bowl status in his second season — the first of 11 appearances in the game.
He capped the Cardinals’ 2008 season with an unbelievable run in the postseason. Fitzgerald caught 30 passes for 546 yards and seven touchdowns in Arizona’s improbable march to Super Bowl XLIII. His 64-yard touchdown reception from Kurt Warner gave the Cardinals a 23-20 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers with 2:37 left in the game.
Fitzgerald’s 10 postseason touchdown catches are tied for the fourth-most in the history of the NFL, despite the fact that he’s played in only nine playoff games.