Larry Fitzgerald

NFC Notes: Cardinals, Giants, Fangio, Vikings

David Johnson is doing his part to keep the Cardinals‘ offense together. Since he was last on the field, Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer retired. And Larry Fitzgerald isn’t certain to come back for a 15th season. Johnson, though, tried to coax Palmer into a 16th slate — one for which he was under contract.

I think Carson’s done,” Johnson said on the Pro Football Talk PM Podcast (via PFT’s Mike Florio). “I’ve talked to him. I was trying to get him to come back just because he was another person who was very impactful not just on the field but also off the field. I was trying to recruit him to come back but I think his mindset is [to retire] — and I definitely understand where he’s coming from.”

Johnson was more bullish on Fitzgerald’s chances of coming back following another 100-reception, 1,000-yard campaign.

Larry is going to come back,” Johnson said, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “He’s still playing at a high level.”

Johnson told Florio he hopes the team and his representation can begin negotiations on a new contract but added he remains focused on his rehab process.

Here’s the latest from the NFC:

  • Vic Fangio‘s new Bears contract is a three-year agreement, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com reports. The veteran DC said he had “a lot” of options but chose to stay in Chicago because he’s confident in Matt Nagy‘s direction for the team. Fangio said he won’t be gaining more defensive responsibility under Nagy than he had under the defensive-oriented John Fox, per Dickerson, because Fox gave him full autonomy to run the Bears’ defense.
  • Eli Manning and Dave Gettleman met recently, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports. While the new Giants GM described this as a “great conversation,” he added “I don’t want to go there” when asked about if the parties reached any closure about Manning’s status following the summit. Schwartz adds the Giants are “very likely” to select their quarterback of the future with the No. 2 overall pick.
  • The Giants are still likely to reach out to Patriots OC Josh McDaniels on Monday to see if he’s committed to becoming the Colts‘ HC as has been reported, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports. A source told Vacchiano that McDaniels would be the favorite if all of their finalists wanted the job, although Vacchiano reports a Giants source also described this year’s HC candidate pool as “uninspiring.” Pat Shurmur remains in line to become Big Blue’s next HC.
  • While it still sounds like Joe Berger has a maximum of two NFL games left, the Vikings guard (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) said he won’t decide until March or April if he’s done after this season or not. Berger said before the season he was likely to retire after 2017 and added one of the reasons he decided to come back was Mike Remmers‘ addition. “My thought is that this is it, but I’m not going to try to make that decision now in the middle of all this,” Berger said. Pro Football Focus graded the 35-year-old blocker as the No. 15 NFL guard this season.
  • Conversely, the Vikings winning a Super Bowl would not seem to dissuade Terence Newman from coming back for a 16th season and what would be his age-40 campaign. Newman said he’s optimistic he can remain an impact player in 2018, were he to decide to come back. “Let’s just say, hypothetically speaking, that I was able to (win a Super Bowl), then why not try to get two?’’ Newman said, via Tomasson. “You can look at it at both sides.” PFF graded Newman as a middle-of-the-pack corner this season. Newman’s playing on a one-year contract.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Cards, Packers, 49ers

For the first time all season, the Vikings will have all three of their quarterbacks healthy when they host New Orleans on Sunday. Even with the return of Sam Bradford and the health of Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum “is the guy” reports Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

This should come as no surprise, as Keenum has been among the league’s top signal-callers since taking over for Bradford early in the season. The question, however, will be if the team wants to have all three suit up on Sunday. Florio’s sources say that won’t be determined until right before kickoff. Florio thinks untimely concussion evaluations could play into the decision.

Regardless of the decision, Keenum will have as long a leash as possible as the starter. The sixth-year quarterback enjoyed a breakout campaign, throwing for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns while posting a stellar 98.3 passer rating. It is unknown at this time if Bradford will leapfrog Bridgewater for the backup role.

Here is more from around the NFC:

  • Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is the perfect candidate for the Cardinals head-coaching vacancy, AZ Central’s Dan Bickley writes. Bickley notes Shurmur’s ability to get the most out of his quarterback as the underlying factor. He also thinks the hiring of Shurmur would ensure the return of Larry Fitzgerald. The hiring, however, would go in opposition to former head coach Bruce Arians’ wishes that defensive coordinator James Bettcher get the job.
  • Packers head coach Mike McCarthy reportedly met with team president and CEO Mark Murphy and expressed concerns Russ Ball wouldn’t be aggressive in free agency, USA Today’s Pete Dougherty reports. The meeting in theory caused Murphy to not promote Ball to general manager after Ted Thompson left the spot. Dougherty has doubts that the meeting had any impact on the situation. He also laid out another theory that Murphy preferred Brian Gutekunst all along for the job.
  • There is confidence on both sides that the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo will strike a deal, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco writes. If the sides don’t reach an agreement, it’s almost a guarantee that the quarterback will be franchised. After leading the Niners to wins in each of his first five starts, Jimmy G is a safe bet to be the QB in San Francisco for a long time.

Latest On Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald still hasn’t decided whether to play in 2018. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are still searching for their next head coach. The latter decision, apparently, will weigh heavily on the former. Larry Fitzgerald (vertical)

I don’t have a head coach right now so there’s a lot going on,” Fitzgerald told the Golf Channel (video link). “I’m going to take some time to figure it out. Our owner and president Michael Bidwill and General Manager Steve Keim are out right now interviewing head coaches. I’m interested to see what’s going to happen. I’ll make a decision shortly after I would imagine.”

As shown on PFR’s Head Coaching Tracker, the Cardinals have cast a wide net in their search:

If the hire is not to Fitzgerald’s liking, he might opt to spend his time on the golf course rather than the gridiron in 2018. The wide receiver did not indicate which candidate is his favorite, but one has to assume that he would like to see Bettcher promoted to the top job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Larry Fitzgerald Leaning Toward Retiring?

The NFL’s third-leading all-time receiver, Larry Fitzgerald may be ready to step away from the game after what was his 14th season.

Bruce Arians‘ retirement could have an impact on how Fitzgerald proceeds, with NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reporting (via Twitter) some of those close to the star pass-catcher do not believe he will want to come back and play in a new offense.

Fitzgerald thrived in Arians’ attack, posting three straight 100-plus-reception seasons from 2015-17. Despite being the league’s oldest wideout, Fitzgerald caught a career-high 109 passes this season and recorded 1,156 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He booked three more Pro Bowls in this span.

Carson Palmer is uncertain to return as well, and Rapoport reports the 38-year-old quarterback is an even longer shot to come back for what would be his 16th NFL season. Palmer and Fitzgerald played together for five years in Arizona, but the quarterback encountered more injury trouble this past season. And Arians having played a key role in rejuvenating Palmer’s career, the former No. 1 overall pick could be inclined to walk away instead of playing the final year of his most recent contract.

Both Fitzgerald and Palmer are signed through 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Broncos, Fitz, Mahomes, Rams

The Broncos my have lost their 10th game of the season on Sunday, but they also got a glimpse at a potential quarterback target in Washington signal caller Kirk Cousins. Playing on his second straight franchise tag, the 29-year-old posted close to 300 yards and tossed three scores against a very formidable Broncos defense. It was a performance that made Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post ask, “is Cousins worth $30MM?”

In fact, many Broncos defenders seemed to think that he could be worth that type of investment this offseason.

“A lot of teams would literally kill to have a quarterback like that,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller said.

“He’s the real deal as a quarterback,” Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall added.

Kiszla proclaimed that Cousins is unlikely to get another franchise tag given just how detrimental a guaranteed cap number like that would be on the Redskins roster. This would mean that Denver would have the opportunity to invest a lot of money in the soon-to-be free agent QB.

Denver clearly needs to address their quarterback situation this offseason. It’s clear that Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler are more backups, with Paxton Lynch still needing major development even when he gets healthy.

There’s a lot of QB needy teams in the NFL, but the Broncos got a personal look on Sunday of what Cousins could bring to a team that’s been craving any sort of offense since Peyton Manning retired after their Super Bowl 50 run.

Here’s more from the NFL’s West divisions:

  • Even though Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald signed a one-year contract extension during the season, that does not mean it’s a guarantee he will return to the football field in 2018. However, Fitz looks to be in a much better position to return than a year ago, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport suggests that the 34-year-old is much healthier than at the conclusion of the 2016 regular season. He’s also on track to post better numbers this year, as he’s just slightly behind his 2016 totals in receptions and yards, while just needing another touchdown to surpass his six scores from a season ago. Fitzgerald is a surefire Hall of Famer as well, but could also be motivated to surpass Terrell Owens on the all-time receiving list. He sits just a few hundred yards behind T.O. and would assuredly pass him if he remains healthy in 2018. Fitz has clearly shown that he can continue to play at a high level in his mid-30’s, so there’s hope from Cardinals fans he could return for another season in Arizona.
  • With their win yesterday, the Chiefs have clinched the AFC West and the fourth seed in the AFC. This means that rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes could get the start or at least see a lot of playing time in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Broncos. But as expected, head coach Andy Reid wasn’t tipping his hand about how the team will approach the QB position next week. “We’ll get through Christmas and then we’ll get on with that,” Reid said. There had been some speculation that Reid may turn to Mahomes during the team’s midseason losing streak, but veteran Alex Smith has bounced back in a big way and led Kansas City to their second straight division title. Mahomes has been playing with the scout team and would probably be well served in getting some actual playing time in his first professional season.
  • While it was a very good day for a Rams franchise that clinched their first division title since 2003, the team was forced to deal with injuries to a pair of starters, reports Aiden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. Left guard Rodger Saffold was forced to exit the game with a rib injury, but head coach Sean McVay said after the victory that, “I think he’s OK.”. Gonzalez added that Saffold was “seen in good spirits” in the postgame celebration as well. However, linebacker Mark Barron‘s achilles injury could be worse than expected. The 28-year-old was a suprise inactive in Week 16 and has dealt with a variety of minor ailments throughout the season, according to Gonzalez. McVay wasn’t as clear with how his prognosis looked for the remainder of the season. “We’ll have some updates on that moving forward,” said the Rams head coach. If Barron should miss time, backup Cory Littleton would likely be forced into the starting lineup.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Fitzgerald, Lacy

Larry Fitzgerald recently signed a one-year extension with the Cardinals to take him through next season. Still, the Cardinals star isn’t sure whether he wants to continue playing.

I don’t know,” Fitzgerald said (via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). “I’m going to take some time, figure it out.”

So far, Fitzgerald has 92 catches for 982 yards and five touchdowns on the season. The receiver, who will celebrate his 35th birthday in August, has accomplished a great deal in the league and would leave the game with few regrets if he decides to call it a career. Still, his performance this year indicates that he still has plenty left in the tank.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted that things haven’t really worked out with offseason addition Eddie Lacy “for a number of reasons,” (Twitter link via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times). However, he says that Lacy and teammate Thomas Rawls are still “battling” to see if either can get time this week. Lacy, who is scheduled for free agency after the conclusion of his one-year deal, has a career-low 2.6 yards per carry average.
  • Safety Cody Davis has been cleared to practice, meaning that he will be eligible to return off of injured reserve for the Rams in the final week of the regular season (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez). Davis is a key reserve for L.A. and his return could allow free safety Lamarcus Joyner to help out at cornerback now that Kayvon Webster has been lost for the season. The Rams round out the regular season with games against the Titans and 49ers. With a two-game lead over the Seahawks, they have virtually locked up the NFC West crown.
  • The 49ers did not have Leonard Fournette ranked as a top-three prospect in this year’s draft, but coach Kyle Shanahan insists that he is not against taking running backs with a high pick. The 49ers are currently in position to have a top five pick, and Penn State standout Saquon Barkley could be there waiting for them.

NFC Notes: Keenum, Floyd, Fitzgerald, Vaccaro

After stopping a surging Rams team in their tracks today, the Vikings stand at 8-2 and clearly are one of the best teams in the NFL, thanks in large part to the play of third-string quarterback Case Keenum. The 29 year-old backup has performed past all reasonable expectations when he was needed to hold down the fort for the injured Sam Bradford just until former first round pick Teddy Bridgewater returned from injury. However, Keenum has impressed throwing for 280 yards or more in the last three games, including seven touchdowns and just three picks in that span. His recent play has called for Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune to say that the debate for who should be Minnesota’s signal caller for the remainder of the season should be put to rest.

Scoggins opines that Bridgewater’s return has been emotional and uplifting, but Keenum puts the team in the best position to win now and in the playoffs. In his mind, Keenum is playing with too much confidence to make a change at this point, and in his opinion reporters should stop asking the question of who’s going to start after every game the team plays.

  • Talented Bears pass rusher Leonard Floyd was carted off the field in today’s loss to the Lions, and it seems like the linebacker has suffered a “really serious” knee injury, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. Dickerson notes that Floyd collided with cornerback Kyle Fuller‘s knee on a play in the fourth quarter and stayed on the ground for a long time before getting taken off the field. “Leonard Floyd left with what looks like a really serious knee injury,” Bears coach John Fox said. “I hate to speculate, but usually when you get taken out on a cart, it’s not great. We’ll evaluate it. I’ll talk to our doctors more today and tonight, and we will continue to evaluate tomorrow.” Floyd has not graded out all too well by Pro Football Focus this season, accumulating a mediocre 74.8 grade so far this season. But the 25-year-old showed much promise in his rookie campaign in 2016 when the edge defender tallied seven sacks in the 12 games he appeared in.
  • Despite recently signing a contract extension for next season, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald continues to dodge questions about his future in the league, reports Kent Somers of AZCentral.com. “I’m only focused on Jacksonville,” Fitzgerald said of next week’s opponent. “We lost a tough one today. We’ve got a really, really, really good defense coming in at home this weekend and two good defenses following them (Rams, Titans). We’ve got to focus on that and that’s where all my attention is focused.” This can be expected from Fitz considering that he’s never been one to reveal much to the media, but it’s still notable because of the trying season Arizona is going through for the second straight year. The 34-year-old pass catcher can still clearly play and is putting up numbers to prove it, but football is a tough game and it remains to be seen what he will decide to do moving forward when he has no more games to look to after Week 17.
  • The Saints pulled off a tremendous comeback win when they came back from 15 points down to beat the Redskins in overtime to win their eighth straight game. Safety Kenny Vaccaro made a note of the winning streak on his personal Twitter account today and also made the proclamation that he would be ready to return for the team’s game vs. the Rams next Sunday (Twitter link). The news should be taken with a grain of salt considering the team’s doctors haven’t cleared him to return, but it’s certainly a positive development for New Orleans who have had to be without their starting safety for the past two weeks as he’s been recovering from a groin injury.

Cardinals Sign Larry Fitzgerald To Extension

It’s a done deal. On Friday morning, the Cardinals announced a new one-year extension for wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The veteran is now signed through the 2018 season. "<strong

The deal is worth $11MM and includes a no-trade clause, according to Mike Jurecki of 98.7FM. The pact also includes incentives that can give him an extra $1MM if he reaches No. 2 on the NFL’s all-time receiving list.

Fitzgerald was considering retirement and many believed that the 2017 campaign would be his last. It’s still possible that he walks away at the end of the season, but there is at least a deal in place if the wide receiver decides to run it back one more time.

There’s a case to be made for both retirement and continuing. On one hand, Fitzgerald could leave on a high note – he currently leads the NFC with 60 receptions and is on pace for 107 catches and 1,204 receiving yards. No player in league history has ever had more than 100 catches and 1,000 yards in a season started at the age of 34 or higher. The odds of an encore, historically, are not on his side. Then again, it’s clear that he still has something left in the tank.

If Fitzgerald plays out this new deal, next year will be his 16th season on the field. Only quarterback Jim Hart (18) and kicker Jim Bakken (17) have played in more seasons for the Cardinals franchise (Twitter link via Mark Dalton of the Cardinals). If he plays every game through 2018, he’ll match Bakken for most regular season games played in Cardinals history with 234.

There are also lots of NFL records within range for Fitzgerald. With another 141 catches, he’ll leapfrog tight end Tony Gonzalez for second all-time in NFL history behind Jerry Rice. The 10-time Pro Bowler (likely en route to No. 11) can become third in all-time receiving yards this season with another 227 yards, allowing him to bypass Randy Moss. After that, he’s just another 642 yards away from topping Terrell Owens for second place.

The Cardinals also have quarterback Carson Palmer and coach Bruce Arians under contract through next season, meaning that the familiar trio could return for 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald Nearing Extension

The Cardinals and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald are nearing an extension that would keep him in Arizona through 2018, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link)."<strong

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Larry Fitzgerald Talks Retirement Plans

Despite Larry Fitzgerald putting together a 107-reception season in 2016, he was not certain to return for what will be his 14th NFL campaign. But the perennial Pro Bowler decided to come back in February.

The Cardinals star wideout addressed his status on Sunday as he prepares for another training camp.

Fitzgerald, who is set for his age-34 season, said he does not want to see his production diminish to the point he has to retire. The former No. 3 overall pick in 2004 went three consecutive seasons without a 1,000-yard campaign before reigniting in 2015 (109 catches, 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns) and playing a key role in Arizona’s NFC championship game push.

The end is never really pretty for elite athletes,” Fitzgerald said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. “It never looks good for the most time. You watch Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards uniform or see Tony Dorsett playing for the Denver Broncos or Shaquille O’Neal playing for the Boston Celtics. It’s weird because you’re used to seeing them play at their most dominant stage, or Willie Mays running around with bad knees 20 years in.

“It’s not pretty but for me, I really want to be able to play and do things at a high level and be able to walk away and still be someone who can play at a high level.”

Fitzgerald is the only wideout still playing from the ’04 class. At this point, he’s the most experienced receiver in football. (Former teammate Anquan Boldin, though, is still contemplating a return for a 15th season. He’s visiting the Bills Monday.)

Injuries have not been an issue for Fitz; he’s missed just two games across the past nine seasons. Health will play into Fitzgerald’s retirement decision, but he refused to say 2017 would be his last.

I feel good right now. When that changes, I’ll let you know. … “I don’t really make any decisions based on anybody else. I never really have. I don’t know what the future holds. That’s why this year is so much more important because we don’t have to think about what we’re doing after Feb. 4.”

The motivation of being part of a Super Bowl-winning team serves as the driving force behind Fitzgerald, a 10-time Pro Bowler, deciding to come back.

That’s huge. That’s the only reason I’m playing at this point. From a personal standpoint and the things I’ve accomplished, they’re fine. But the thing that you will say is out of you control because you’re in a team sport, is a championship.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.