Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald’s Decision Won’t Impact Cardinals’ Draft Plans

The Cardinals are waiting to hear whether Larry Fitzgerald will play in 2021. But, in the interim, his retirement decision will not impact the team’s board in this week’s draft, GM Steve Keim says. 

[RELATED: Cardinals Eyeing CBs, Waddle?]

No matter what Larry decides, it does not affect our draft plans,” Keim said (via ESPN.com). “Again, to me, you can’t have enough good players at one position. There [are] guys on a one-year contract. So, again, as far as building your team and the type of depth that you have, you can never have enough good players and, obviously, Larry Fitzgerald is a great one, so you wouldn’t say no to him either.”

The 37-year-old hasn’t tipped his hand to anyone — including Keim. Technically speaking, Fitzgerald is a free agent, but it’s believed that he’ll either return to the Cardinals or call it a career. For what it’s worth, executives “anticipate” that Fitzgerald is going to retire.

Either way, the Cardinals have to start thinking about the future of the position beyond Fitzgerald, who turns 38 in August. With that in mind, Keim anticipates that there will be five or six receivers taken in Round 1, which would leave plenty of quality options for them at No. 16 overall.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Fitzgerald, Stafford, Everett

When the Cardinals signed A.J. Green last month, all eyes turned to Larry Fitzgerald and his place on the team. Although the legendary receiver hasn’t made his intentions known just yet, it appears he’s headed in the direction of hanging up his cleats. “Execs anticipate” that Fitzgerald, who is unsigned for 2021, is going to retire, Mike Sando of The Athletic writes. This stops short of being a full-on report, but it certainly sounds like that’s the way things are trending.

With Green now in the fold alongside the returning DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, the Cardinals’ receiving room would be pretty crowded if Fitz wanted to give it one last go. The surefire future Hall of Famer played in 13 games for Arizona last year, racking up 54 catches for 409 yards and a touchdown. It was easily the lowest output of his decorated 17-year career. We should know more soon, but unfortunately it seems likely we’ve seen the Pittsburgh product play his final down.

Here’s more from around the NFC West on a quiet Sunday afternoon:

  • Matthew Stafford was banged up a lot during his last season with the Lions, and he just had a procedure to address one of those lingering injuries. The new Rams quarterback had surgery on the thumb of his throwing hand last month, a source told Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Fortunately, Rodrigue reports it was just a simple cleanup and Stafford isn’t expected to miss any real practice time. Stafford said back in February that he had partially torn the UCL in his right thumb. Despite dealing with a slew of significant health issues, he didn’t miss a start last season.
  • The Seahawks signed away tight end Gerald Everett from the Rams in free agency, and it turns out a prior poaching played a large role in that. Seattle hired former Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron to be their new OC after firing Brian Schottenheimer, and Waldron played a role in delivering Everett. “Shane is a mastermind,” Everett said, via John Boyle of the team’s official site. “He’s very creative, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in Seattle… When Shane went to Seattle, obviously the idea was there, it lingered in my head.” Everett was a second-round pick of Los Angeles in 2017, and although he never put up huge numbers in Rams offenses that had a lot of mouths to feed, he flashed a lot of potential. “Yes, he was a factor in my decision to come to Seattle,” Everett said of Waldron. The Seahawks gave him a one-year, $7MM deal in March.
  • In case you missed it, the 49ers are asking for a first-round pick in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Cardinals GM: Free Agency Not Deadline For Larry Fitzgerald Decision

Larry Fitzgerald has played the past five seasons on one-year contracts, but the future Hall of Fame wide receiver had decided on a return by this point in each of those preceding offseasons.

Over the past three years, Fitzgerald decided to return in February 2018 — honoring a one-year extension he inked the previous November — and in January of 2019 and 2020. In each of the past five seasons, Fitzgerald’s going rate has been $11MM. Another such payment will be difficult to justify, given the Cardinals’ cap situation and Fitz’s performance in 2020.

But the 37-year-old wideout still appears to have a place on the 2021 team, Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com writes, should he decide he wants to play an 18th season. Fitzgerald said in February he did not have a timetable on whether he would retire or return. He was similarly mum when the topic resurfaced last week.

I’ve said it a few times that you know he deserves that space,” Cards GM Steve Keim said. “At some point in time, I’m sure we’ll talk to him here in the near future.”

Last season, Fitzgerald fell off the consistent track he had traveled. He averaged just 7.6 yards per reception (54 catches, 409 yards, one touchdown) and missed three games. Fitz was one of many NFLers to contract COVID-19, and he experienced symptoms that sidelined him for two games. He then missed Week 17 because of a groin injury — his first injury-related absence since the 2014 season.

The Cards have DeAndre Hopkins signed to a $27.3MM-per-year pact, but he is on their 2021 cap sheet at just $12.5MM. Christian Kirk has one season remaining on his rookie contract. Arizona has $12.5MM in cap space and has younger pending free agents in Patrick Peterson, Haason Reddick and Kenyan Drake.

Even if Fitzgerald comes back, the team will still likely add at the receiver position to provide Kyler Murray more help. But a decision should be expected soon, and it will almost certainly determine if Fitzgerald heads to Canton in 2027 or 2028. He ranks second all time in receptions, with those 1,432 catches leading active active pass catchers by more than 500. Fitz’s 17,492 receiving yards are also second; that number leads active players by over 4,500 yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson

Two of the best players in Cardinals history are set for free agency in March. While the Cardinals do not have to worry about Larry Fitzgerald defecting to another team, with the future Hall of Famer indicating he would only play for the Cards, Patrick Peterson could leave after 10 seasons in Arizona.

After Michael Bidwill indicated the Cardinals would like to bring back Peterson, GM Steve Keim confirmed he has spoken with the eight-time Pro Bowler this offseason, according to the Arizona Republic’s Bob McManamon.

Keim stopped short of saying he would like to extend Peterson before he hits the market, citing the salary cap uncertainty as a key reason he did not have a clear idea of the All-Decade defender’s place with the 2021 Cardinals.

Peterson’s play over the past two years has not measured up to his Pro Bowl-level work, and he will turn 31 this year. The Cardinals, however, also have Dre Kirkpatrick set for free agency and have seen Robert Alford miss two full seasons since he signed with Arizona in 2019. The team has a considerable need at cornerback.

The Cardinals are respecting Fitzgerald’s timeline. Keim has not spoken to Fitz this offseason, per McManamon. Like he has for the past few seasons, Fitzgerald is taking time to determine whether he wants to return. The 37-year-old wideout has indicated only a championship will matter for him going forward.

Fitz saw his production tumble in 2020. Although the 17-year veteran missed three games, his 31.5 yards per game represented a career-low figure — by a wide margin. After making $11MM last year, Fitz would almost certainly need to agree to a lower-cost deal if he were to return for an 18th season. Arizona has DeAndre Hopkins signed long-term, but Christian Kirk is going into a contract year after an inconsistent three-season run.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald: “No Timeline” For Decision

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald still isn’t sure about his plans for 2021 and beyond. When asked at a Pro-Am tournament in Arizona, Fitzgerald stressed that he isn’t in any rush to announce his retirement or return. 

I’m just playing golf right now, that’s all I’m worried about,” Fitzgerald said. “No timeline. I’m just taking it day by day. Honestly I haven’t given it much thought.”

Speculation about Fitzgerald’s future has become something of an offseason staple. In 2017, Fitzgerald was thought to be on his farewell tour. Then, midway through the year, he inked a one-year extension worth $11MM. A few re-ups later, Fitzgerald is still going. In his age-37 season, Fitzgerald was still reasonably productive with 54 catches for 409 yards and one touchdown. The 11-time Pro Bowler has pretty much done it all, save for capturing a Super Bowl ring.

You wouldn’t see me around here anymore if [we win the Super Bowl],” Fitzgerald said last September. “Another catch, another touchdown, another yard is not going to make more whatever – my legacy is pretty much cemented. I just want to win a championship, I want to compete for a division title. Those are the things that are important to me.”

The chase could lead him to return for his age-38 campaign but, for now, he’s keeping the focus on his family and his short game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Rumors: Fitzgerald, Gould, Reed

Speculating about Larry Fitzgerald‘s future has become something of a holiday tradition over the past few seasons. The surefire Hall-of-Famer did say earlier this year that if the Cardinals were to win Super Bowl LV, he would ride off into the sunset, but Arizona’s hopes for its first Lombardi Trophy suffered a major blow in an upset loss to the 49ers last night.

So will Fitz be back in 2021? As Rachel Gossen of ArizonaSports.com writes, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he believes Fitzgerald could play for another four seasons, but Fitzgerald himself was noncommittal.

“I haven’t really given it much thought to be honest with you,” he said. Though Fitzgerald did add that it will be nice to have fans back in the stands when it’s safe, Kingsbury downplayed the notion that Fitzgerald would return just to receive a proper sendoff from the Cardinals’ faithful.

As we wait to see whether one of the best receivers in NFL history will call it a career, and as the Cards focus on keeping their fading playoff hopes alive, let’s round up a few more notes from the NFC West:

  • The 49ers have a big decision to make on kicker Robbie Gould this week. Per the four-year extension Gould signed in 2019, San Francisco has until January 2 to pick up an option that would guarantee $2.25MM of Gould’s $4.5MM 2021 salary. Gould had hit 90.5% of his field goal attempts heading into last night’s matchup with Arizona, but he missed two FGA’s and a PAT in a 20-12 win that could have been more decisive. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan said the performance will not impact the team’s decision on Gould’s contract. “You got to look at the body of work, and Robbie has been unbelievable,” Shanahan said (Twitter link via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area).
  • Claimed off waivers from the division-rival 49ers in August, Seahawks CB D.J. Reed has been a great find for Seattle. In eight games (six starts), Reed has lined up both in the slot and outside the numbers and has accumulated 49 tackles, two interceptions, and six passes defensed while yielding a modest 77.9 passer rating as the nearest defender (via NFL Next Gen stats). Though the 5-9 Reed does not fit the mold of the big-bodied specimens that Seattle generally prefers at the outside corner positions, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com thinks his presence could make the club more amenable to moving on from contract-year players Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin. Reed will be entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2021.
  • As Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic points out, the Rams would be about $26MM over the 2021 salary cap if the cap is decreased to $175MM as many expect. So while the club can certainly restructure the contracts of players like Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to create space, it will also have tough decisions to make on pending free agents. Rodrigue posits that, if DC Brandon Staley gets hired as a head coach, he may try to bring safety John Johnson and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd with him, though Los Angeles will doubtlessly prioritize re-ups with both players. Meanwhile, Rodrigue sees players like WR Josh Reynolds and TE Gerald Everett signing elsewhere this offseason.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Whitworth, Garoppolo

Cardinals NT Corey Peters is out for the season due to a torn patellar tendon, and as he is in the final year of his contract with Arizona, it’s possible he has already played his last game with the team. But if he has it his way, that won’t be the case.

The 32-year-old said that he would love to spend the rest of his career with the Cardinals, as Mason Kern of SI.com writes, and assuming the price is right, it would make sense for GM Steve Keim to keep him. Peters was named Arizona’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award yesterday, and he has been a team captain for three years running. In addition to his stout defense against the run, he is a highly-respected spiritual and emotional leader, so look for the two sides to discuss a reunion this offseason.

Now for more from the NFC West:

  • Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald says he feels much better after testing positive for COVID-19 late last month, though he has yet to regain his senses of taste and smell (Twitter link via Kimberley A. Martin of ESPN.com). Fitz also says he lost nine pounds during his bout with the coronavirus, but he did come off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, and as Darren Urban of the team’s official website tweets, the 37-year-old will suit up against the Giants this weekend.
  • After sinking 88.6% of his field goal tries in 2019, Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez has converted just 72.7% of his attempts this year, prompting some to wonder if the team will seek another option. But Keim will keep rolling with Gonzalez, saying, “I know people question Zane but Zane has a lot of talent. … I think Zane will work through the tough times” (Twitter link via Urban). Gonzalez is playing out the season on his RFA tender, and this is not how he wanted to enter his first offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Rams suddenly find themselves atop the NFC West, and they could be getting their left tackle back soon. Andrew Whitworth has been on the shelf since the middle of November with a torn MCL and PCL, but Jay Glazer of FOX Sports says (via Twitter) that the veteran OT, who turns 39 tomorrow, will test out the knee next week. Whitworth is apparently way ahead of schedule and could return by the end of the regular season.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo‘s future with the 49ers is in some doubt, even though HC Kyle Shanahan recently said he expects the dashing signal-caller to be the team’s starter in 2021. That may well be the case, but Matt Barrows of The Athletic believes San Francisco will select a QB in next year’s draft, perhaps as high as the second round. There could be a few intriguing prospects available at that point that Shanahan may be able to turn into a viable starter at the professional level. Players like Florida’s Kyle Trask or Alabama’s Mac Jones could both be options.
  • It has now been over a year since Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny last suited up for a game, but as John Boyle of the team’s official website notes, Penny returned to practice this week. Head coach Pete Carroll says he’s excited about what he has seen from Penny in practice (Twitter link via 710 ESPN Seattle), and the ‘Hawks could certainly use a boost to an RB corps that has dealt with a number of injuries this season. Per Boyle, CB Quinton Dunbar, who has been on IR for a few weeks with a knee injury, has also returned to practice.
  • The Seahawks signed QB Alex McGough to their practice squad yesterday, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, the team has put its other PS signal-caller, Danny Etling, in a bubble. The Broncos, of course, recently had to play a game with a practice squad wide receiver at QB because the rest of their quarterbacks were deemed high-risk close contacts of Jeff Driskel, who had tested positive. The Seahawks are keeping Etling in a bubble to guard against just such a situation.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/8/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Washington Football Team

  • Signed to active roster off practice squad: TE Marcus Baugh

Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald Tests Positive For COVID-19

Larry Fitzgerald has tested positive for COVID-19, sources tell Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). At minimum, the Cardinals wide receiver will miss Sunday’s game against the Patriots. 

[RELATED: Cardinals’ Thompson To Miss Time]

Just yesterday, the NFL was forced to bump Ravens-Steelers from Thursday night in primetime to Sunday afternoon. Despite its protocols and access to tests, the league has been unable to keep a lid on viral spread. Fortunately, most players have experienced mild symptoms, or no symptoms, following their positive tests. However, two players have been forced to end their seasons early due to complications. Jaguars running back Ryquell Armstead had to be hospitalized twice with major symptoms before he was ultimately ruled out for the season in October. And, earlier this week, Bills tight end Tommy Sweeney was diagnosed with myocarditis, a heart condition which has been linked to the coronavirus.

Fitzgerald, 37, continues to be productive at his advanced age. Just last week, Fitz reeled in eight catches for 62 yards against the Seahawks, matching his stat line from their first meeting in October. All in all, he’s caught 43 passes for 336 yards alongside DeAndre Hopkins, who has become Kyler Murray‘s top target.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Cardinals Extend Larry Fitzgerald

Three years ago, Larry Fitzgerald was thought to be on his farewell tour. That, of course, was not the case. The Cardinals inked the legendary wide receiver to a new one-year extension worth $11MM, tying him to the team for at least one more year. "<strong

Fitzgerald was considering retirement, but the Cardinals talked him out of it with this re-up, which included a no-trade clause. It wasn’t necessarily an easy decision for the vet, who could have left on a high note. At the time of the deal, Fitzgerald led the NFC with 60 catches and was on pace for well over 1,000 yards. No player in league history ever registered more than 100 catches and 1,000 yards in an age-34 season — Fitzgerald did it with ease.

The deal didn’t necessarily guarantee that Fitzgerald would play in 2018 — it merely put the ball in his court. Fitzgerald went on to play and suit up for every game, matching kicker Jim Bakken for the most regular season games played in Cardinals history with 234. He also captured his eleventh career Pro Bowl nod and leapfrogged tight end Tony Gonzalez for second all-time in NFL receptions, behind Jerry Rice. Fitzgerald didn’t stop there — he’s now eclipsed Randy Moss and Terrell Owens on the all-time list with 17,000+ receiving yards. Once again, only Rice (22,895) tops him.

Fitzgerald is still doing his thing at the age of 37 and he’s still not quite ready to commit to retirement. What would it take for one of the league’s all-time legends to call it quits?

You wouldn’t see me around here anymore if [we win the Super Bowl this year],” Fitzgerald said in September. “Another catch, another touchdown, another yard is not going to make more whatever – my legacy is pretty much cemented. I just want to win a championship, I want to compete for a division title. Those are the things that are important to me.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.