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Fitzgerald on Cardinals’ 2017: ‘That’s not how you want to go out’

Individually, Larry Fitzgerald’s production proved he’s still got it.

Professionally, the Arizona Cardinals receiver didn’t feel like ending his career on a team that by record was the definition of average.

Fitzgerald surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in 2017 for the ninth time in 14 seasons so far and was three catches short in total receptions last season. All that did was tell him he can remain a productive pro. But as to how it impacted his offseason, which included another period of determining his future as a football player, the 34-year-old said Arizona’s disappointing season had a lot to do with his ultimate decision to return for 2018.

“I’d contemplated retiring, I’d say, probably the last three years or so, but I think this year, you know, I feel like I still have good football left in me,” Fitzgerald told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “But leaving after 8-8, just (a) mundane season, finishing third in the NFC West … that’s not how you want to go out. You don’t want to go out just blah.

“You want to go out and have something behind it: playoff appearance, a division championship, something that you can stamp, ‘He had an impact on the way out.’ I just had a nasty taste in my mouth after that 8-8.”

So here Fitzgerald is, readying to play under first-year head coach Steve Wilks and a new offensive system led by offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Arizona opens a voluntary mini-camp on Tuesday, and its veteran receiver enters with a renewed excitement working under the new staff.

“Football and sports in general, it’s always about what have you done for me lately, and if you lose that sight and you start looking at what you’ve accomplished in the past, you lose sight of what you need to do to get better moving forward. I never allow myself, so-to-speak, to smell the roses,” he said Monday.

“I’m kind of getting that same feeling again right now: I’m going into our first mini-camp, practice is tomorrow. Brand new head coach, brand new staff. I’m in prove-it mode again. I like that feeling that I have right now.”

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