Longtime face of the Cardinals’ franchise and surefire Hall-of-Fame wideout Larry Fitzgerald is expected to retire at the end of the 2016 season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Rapoport reports that Fitzgerald has told people close to him that he believes this year will be his last.
Just last month, Fitzgerald signed an extension that keeps him under club control through the 2017 campaign, though his $11MM salary for 2017 is guaranteed for injury only, making it little more than a “free disability policy” for Fitz while helping Arizona avoid the distraction of having one of the best players in club history play out the season on an expiring contract. As such, the extension never really ensured that the 33-year-old would suit up for the Cardinals in 2017.
Since being selected by Arizona in the first round of the 2004 draft, Fitzgerald has been selected to a whopping nine Pro Bowls. The quarterback situation has been largely unsettled during Fitzgerald’s tenure with the club, and he has caught passes from top-tier signal callers, the dregs of the quarterbacking world, and everything in between.
Through it all, the former Pittsburgh Panther has done nothing but produce, catching over 1,000 passes for over 13,000 yards and 98 touchdowns, which make him a top-15 all-time receiver in each category. He has saved some of his best work for the playoffs, racking up almost 1,000 receiving yards and 10 TDs in nine playoff games, including a dazzling performance in Super Bowl XLIII that nearly lifted the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl championship.
The Cardinals, of course, enter the 2016 season on the short list of legitimate Super Bowl contenders, so he should have a real chance of adding that elusive ring to a career that has been otherwise flawless both on and off the field.
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