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Palmer: J.J. Watt might help bring Larry Fitzgerald back to Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Some Arizona Cardinals fans are still on cloud nine following Monday’s free agent signing of defensive lineman J.J. Watt.

And while the addition of Watt doesn’t guarantee anything in the win column, former Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer believes it might just play a part in wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s decision to return for an 18th season.

“I think he comes back and I think J.J. might have a little to do with that. I think the way last year ended probably had a lot to do with that,” Palmer told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Thursday. “There’s so many good players around him. … They’re such a good team and you get Chandler (Jones) back, there’s a lot to be excited about.

“I’m not saying this because Larry told me this — I don’t know what he’s thinking. But I would be surprised if he didn’t come back.”

The Cardinals Ring of Honor member talked about the young offensive talent the Cardinals have such as All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and fourth-year WR Christian Kirk, who can lighten the required workload for Fitzgerald compared to years past.

Palmer added that the focus for head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray can’t be to force the ball to Fitzgerald.

“That’s why this is the greatest sport on the planet is because it’s not one individual player. … It’s about the offense moving the chains and the offense scoring touchdowns and not field goals,” he said.

“That would be worrisome if there was a big focus of how do we get Larry the ball, how do we make sure we keep him happy? Once you start doing that, that’s where the team aspect falls to the side and that can’t happen.”

Using his own personal experience, Palmer said Fitzgerald isn’t thinking about how many touches he’s going to have if he comes back.

Instead, the future Hall of Famer is asking himself if his body can go through training camp and the grind of a full NFL season.

“Once you start worrying about individual accolades, all the other team accolades fall by the side,” Palmer said. “And as a coach, that’s Kliff’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen and make sure that’s not the focal point of the offense.”


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