Fitzgerald, now in his age-34 campaign, has flirted with retirement in the past, and while a new contract would certainly indicate that Fitzgerald plans to play in 2018, that’s not a guarantee. Instead, the deal will simply ensure that Fitzgerald will spent next season with the Cardinals if he decides to return for a 16th NFL season.
Fitzgerald agreed to a similar extension in August 2016, inking a deal that contained an $11MM base salary for the 2017 season. However, that contract did not contain any guaranteed money, and Florio at the time described the pact as a “free disability policy” for Fitzgerald. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising if Fitzgerald’s new extension is similar in format.
Not only the greatest Cardinals receiver in the history of the franchise but one of the NFL’s best pass-catchers of all time, Fitzgerald is still plugging along in an Arizona offense that is down to its backup quarterback. On 88 targets, Fitzgerald has posted 60 receptions, 677 yards, and three scores. Essentially playing as an undersized tight end in Bruce Arians‘ offense, Fitzgerald is also an asset as a blocker in the run game.
The Cardinals aren’t in contention for a playoff berth this season, and conventional wisdom had been that the club had missed its final shot at a Super Bowl run. But if Carson Palmer (who is also signed through 2018), Fitzgerald, and Arians all return next year, Arizona could potentially take one more run at a title.
Under the terms of his previous extension, Fitzgerald had a cap hit of $4.85MM on the Cardinals’ 2018 books. That was because Arizona used a void year, enabling the team to spread out Fitzgerald’s signing bonus. Had Fitzgerald retired or left the Cardinals as a free agent, the club would have absorbed that $4.85MM in dead money.
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