Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald back for 2019, re-signs on 1-year deal

Jan 23, 2019, 7:38 AM | Updated: Jan 24, 2019, 8:41 am
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) leaves the field after an NFL football game a...
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. The Rams won 31-9. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will return for the 2019 season after he reached a one-year deal with the team, it was announced Wednesday.

“A fire burned inside of me my rookie year…a desire, over all else, to be great. To excel on the field. To impact the lives of others off of it,” Fitzgerald wrote in an Instagram post.

“I’m grateful that the fire still burns just as bright today, and that this organization has let me chase that fire for well over a decade. Nothing excites me more than continuing to chase greatness with everyone here on and off the field. Let’s get to work! #YEAR16”

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Fitzgerald’s contract includes an $11 million base salary, all guaranteed, plus $1 million in incentives.

Fitzgerald’s first 15 years, all with the Cardinals, will surely earn him a Hall of Fame nod at the first opportunity.

His 16,279 receiving yards rank second all-time and his 1,303 catches sit third. The receiver needs 23 receptions to pass tight end Tony Gonzalez for second all-time.

He is already the franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, total touchdowns and 100-yard games.

“I’d been talking to him over the last couple of weeks,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “His passion, his drive, his determination — it’s like his rookie year. Last four years, he’s started every game. He seems to get better with age.”

Originally drafted by the Cardinals No. 3 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald has made 11 Pro Bowls. In a testament to his longevity among the elite pass-catchers in the league, Fitzgerald led the league in receptions in 2005 and again 11 years later in 2016.

In nine of his first 15 seasons, Fitzgerald reached at least 1,000 yards and recorded triple digits for receptions on five different occasions. That includes a run at ages 32-34 when he caught 109, 107 and 109 balls over three seasons from 2015-17.

Fitzgerald’s last home game in Week 16 featured his first-career passing touchdown, a 32-yard connection to David Johnson. He also became the oldest wideout to ever throw a touchdown pass. That was his 234th career game for Arizona, tying the franchise mark for most games played (K Jim Bakken).

He enters 2019 with an active streak of 227 consecutive games with a reception.

Fitzgerald’s return comes during a shift in the Cardinals’ coaching staff. Steve Wilks was fired after leading Arizona to 3-13 in 2018 and was replaced by former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The new head coach spoke highly of Fitzgerald at his introductory press conference on Jan. 9.

“As a coach, what a great role model for me to be able to tell my college players, ‘Hey, this is a guy that does it right all the time on and off the field. The way he handles himself. The way he carries himself,’” Kingsbury said.

Fitzgerald had a salary just under $17 million for the 2018 season.

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