While the Chris Johnson signing and other transactions by the Arizona Cardinals have been making the headlines, the contract restructuring of Larry Fitzgerald went under the radar.
ESPN.com has changed that with its “Ten offseason moves that stand out” list and Fitzgerald made the cut.
Best veteran contract resolution: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
High salary-cap numbers made Fitzgerald’s contract a burden in Bruce Arians’ first couple seasons as head coach. The way Arians is featuring Fitzgerald suggests the coach has a greater appreciation for the franchise icon he inherited. Getting Fitzgerald’s contract situation settled this past offseason seemed like an important step. Fitzgerald has 55 receptions for 706 yards and seven touchdowns through eight games, putting him on pace to threaten career highs. He finished last season with 63 catches for 784 yards and two scores.
The third overall pick in 2004 is making that move seem better week by week, as he is on his way to one of his best seasons ever. The former Pittsburgh star is currently on pace for his highest receiving yards total (1,412) since 2008 (1,431) and the highest receptions total (110) of his career.
Those totals would be at a much more efficient rate. His pace of 140 targets on the season would be only his seventh highest total of the ten seasons that qualify. Some would attribute that to better quarterback play with Carson Palmer.
Fitzgerald joins former Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles on the list, who qualified as the “best head-coaching hire.”