ARIZONA CARDINALS

ESPN: Larry Fitzgerald has one of the most ‘onerous’ NFL contracts

Nov 14, 2014, 6:03 PM | Updated: 6:03 pm

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Over the course of his 11-year NFL career, Larry Fitzgerald has emerged as the face of the Arizona Cardinals as well as one of the best receivers the game has ever seen.

And during that time, he also got paid very, very handsomely for his efforts.

Fitz and the Cardinals restructured his contract in February, and though it bought both time to sort things out in 2014, in a way it just delayed the inevitable decision that is going to have to be made.

The 31-year-old is scheduled to make a substantial amount of money next season, and chances are the team has little interest in paying him that kind of coin.

And according to ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert, Fitzgerald’s is one of the six most onerous contracts in the NFL.

Full deal: Seven years, $113 million through 2018

Relevant terms: Fitzgerald has an $8 million roster bonus due in 2015, along with a cap number of $23.6 million and total cash compensation of $16.25 million.

Analysis: Fitzgerald is on pace for his first 1,000-yard season since 2011 and almost certainly has a number of productive seasons remaining in his career. But his elite-level contract makes him vulnerable at age 31 and in the presence of young Cardinals receivers Michael Floyd and John Brown. The 2015 offseason will be the first time the Cardinals could save cap space ($9.2 million) by releasing Fitzgerald. It’s possible he would agree to a pay cut or a restructure, and in truth he could help the Cardinals for years to come. But his contract is an obstacle that seems likely to force a move that otherwise wouldn’t be contemplated.

Though Fitzgerald got off to a slow start this season, he’s certainly come on strong in recent weeks, bringing his season line to a team-best 44 receptions for 625 yards. The third-overall pick in the 2004 draft is still an effective player, and the Cardinals have consistently maintained they’d like him to finish his career in Arizona.

However, there will undoubtedly be a market for a player with more than 900 career receptions, 12,000 yards and 89 touchdowns if he should be come a free agent, which are numbers Fitzgerald should easily reach and surpass this season.

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ESPN: Larry Fitzgerald has one of the most ‘onerous’ NFL contracts