Is Fitzgerald’s contract handcuffing Cardinals?

Nov 1, 2011, 8:08 PM | Updated: 9:35 pm

There is no doubt whom the “face of the franchise” is for
the Arizona Cardinals.

It’s Larry Fitzgerald.

Not only is Fitzgerald one of the
most talented and feared wide receivers in the league, but
he’s also very visible as the Cardinals’ ambassador to the
community. It’s for those reasons that general manager
Rod Graves signed Fitzgerald, who was entering the last
year of his contract, to a massive 8-year, $120 million
deal that guaranteed the receiver around $50 million.

At the time, the deal, while rich, was viewed almost
universally as the right thing for the Cardinals’
organization to do. A few weeks earlier they had traded
for quarterback Kevin Kolb and rewarded him with a gaudy
five-year contract. The Kolb-Fitzgerald combo was
supposed to be the cornerstone of the plan to elevate the
Cardinals to the top of the NFC West once again.

That was late August.

Now in early November, the Cardinals are sporting a 1-6
record, Kolb is struggling, and people are wondering why
Fitzgerald isn’t a more dominant factor in the offense.
Fitz is not currently in the top 20 in the league in
receptions or targets. In games around the NFL last
62 players had more passes thrown their
way than the five that Kolb directed toward Fitzgerald.

There seems to be a building sentiment that Fitzgerald’s
is actually hurting the Cardinals.

Among those building the sentiment are Arizona Sports 620
hosts Dave Burns and John Gambadoro, who discussed the
topic on Tuesday’s show.

“If Larry Fitzgerald is going to get that type of money,
he’s got to catch 7 or 8 passes per game,” Gambadoro said.
“They’ve played seven games and he’s got two touchdowns.
For $50 million in guaranteed money, you’re probably going
to get four touchdowns out of Larry Fitzgerald, maybe
five. It’s not good enough. It’s just not good enough.”

Gambadoro also points to the fact that the contract
extension was placed so high on the priority list for the
Cardinals in preparation for the season, that it crippled
the team’s efforts to sign a legitimate veteran number two
receiver to line up opposite of Fitzgerald.

“You paid so much money to one guy, you’ve got no money
left for anybody else and you’ve got holes all over the
place,” he said.

Burns brought up that former Cardinal receiver Steve
Breaston, who wasn’t re-signed by the team and hooked on
with Kansas City as a free agent, is making his mark with
the Chiefs, where the other Arizona receivers haven’t

“You know how many catches Steve Breaston has had in the
month of October?” Burns asked. “Sixteen. You know how
many catches Andre Roberts had in the month of October?

Point made.

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Is Fitzgerald’s contract handcuffing Cardinals?