Larry Fitzgerald

West Notes: Fitz, Wilson, Henry

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald did not announce that he would return for the 2018 season until mid-February of 2018, and it appears that we could have a similar wait in 2019. Fitz told ESPN’s Adam Schefter earlier this week that he would take some time to collect his thoughts after a difficult 3-13 season, but that the team’s recent hiring of new head coach Kliff Kingsbury would not sway him one way or another. If Fitz does decide to play, he would technically be eligible for free agency, but it is impossible to imagine him playing for a team other than Arizona.

Now for more from the league’s west divisions:

  • This probably doesn’t mean much, especially in light of last week’s reports on the matter, but Kingsbury has said that he would consider drafting Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray with the Cardinals‘ No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, per ESPN’s Sam Ponder (via Twitter).
  • The Seahawks are set to begin contract negotiations with quarterback Russell Wilson, and in a piece that is well-worth a full read, Joel Corry of CBS Sports says that Wilson’s new deal will pay him at least $35MM per year.
  • After being activated on Monday, Chargers TE Hunter Henry is expected to play in the team’s divisional round showdown in Foxborough this afternoon, per Albert Breer of SI.com.
  • We heard yesterday that Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell will be a top target of new Broncos coach Vic Fangio, and Mike Klis of 9News tweets that Donatell is currently deciding between staying in Chicago or following Fangio to Denver.
  • Former Buccaneers defensive line coach Brentson Buckner will join the Raiders in the same capacity, per Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • 49ers defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina will not be returning to the team, per Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Twitter).

Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald Haven’t Discussed Extension

Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald is scheduled to become a free agent next spring, but Arizona has yet to discuss an extension with the franchise icon, as general manager Steve Keim explained on 98.7 Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday (link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com).

“We don’t get into that with Larry at this point and time,” Keim said. “It’s no different than the last couple of years. We will give him that grace period to sort of reflect and see how his body feels like a lot of the vets do. Those are the conversations that will come after the season.”

Fitzgerald, of course, has flirted with retirement in recent years, and that dalliance will likely take place again this offseason. It seems incredibly unlikely that Fitzgerald — who would be entering his age-36 campaign in 2019 — would have interest in leaving the Cardinals, as he’s expressed on multiple occasions that he’s only willing to play in Arizona.

Although Fitzgerald may be open to extending his career beyond 2018, it’s unknown if he’s angling for a multi-year contract. Last November, Fitzgerald agreed to a one-year, $11MM extension that took him through the 2018 campaign. However, with the Cardinals possibly in line for major structural changes — both Keim and head coach Steve Wilks could lose their jobs in the coming weeks — it stands to reason Fitzgerald could take his time deciding on his future.

While Fitzgerald’s numbers (59 receptions, 645 yards, five touchdowns) have fallen off this season, it’s tough to lay blame at his feet, as the Cardinals easily boast the league’s worst offensive unit and quarterback play. In terms of all-time NFL records, Fitzgerald isn’t going to pass Jerry Rice in terms of receiving yardage, but he should overtake Tony Gonzalez for second in receptions if he plays in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints, Eagles Could Be Aggressive At Trade Deadline

The Saints and Eagles are expected to be among the most aggressive teams in advance of the October 30 trade deadline, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who adds that the two clubs are interested in a few of the same players.

Interestingly, La Canfora writes that Philadelphia is still monitoring the trade markets for Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy, though recent reports surrounding both running backs suggest that they will be staying with their current teams. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer says it would not cost much to get McCoy, despite what the Bills have been saying, but it does not seem likely that the Eagles will reunite with their former star. Instead, in keeping with previous reports, it sounds as if the Eagles are content with their running back situation, and Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the team sees a defensive tackle, secondary help, and a field-stretching wide receiver as bigger priorities.

La Canfora also writes that the Eagles are seeking another receiving option and a quality corner, and he says the Saints are looking for upgrades at the same positions. The Raiders are said to be shopping Amari Cooper, who is probably the best wide receiver who could be had at the deadline, but Larry Fitzgerald and Emmanuel Sanders may also be in play. Meanwhile, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, and Bradley Roby are some of the corners who have been attracting the interest of rival clubs.

The Saints are currently 4-1 and are atop the NFC South, and they are clearly in win-now mode as they hope to bring home another Lombardi Trophy before Drew Brees, 39, hangs up the cleats. The defending champion Eagles are just 3-3 but are very much alive in the wide open NFC East.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cardinals, Cooks, Gregory, Manhertz, McCluster

Larry Fitzgerald will be back for a 15th season in Arizona, and the long-time Cardinals wideout is set to hit free agency next offseason. Of course, the future Hall of Famer can’t envision himself playing elsewhere, as he essentially told Jace Frederick of TwinCities.com that he’d hang up his cleats if he wasn’t retained by Arizona.

“If I’m not playing in Arizona, I won’t be playing anywhere,” he said. “I’ve built a good life for myself down there. Playing in the same place for 15 years is a true blessing.”

Fitzgerald is one of only two players (along with Antonio Brown) to compile 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards over the past three seasons. Despite turning 35 years old this fall, Fitzgerald says he isn’t slowing down.

“It doesn’t really matter about the age, it’s about what you put into it and your mind-set,” he said. “Everybody kind of takes numbers and assumes this is when it’s supposed to end. As an athlete, fortunately, you write your own script. If you still produce and you play at a high level, you kind of determine how long you want to play. If I can stay at a high level, I still keep destiny in my own hands.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • We learned earlier today that wideout Brandin Cooks had inked a five-year, $80MM extension with the Rams. NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora tweets that the new deal contains $20.5MM in guaranteed money and a $50.5MM injury guarantee. NFL.com’s Albert Breer clarifies (via Twitter) that the deal will actually total $81MM, with the $16.2MM average annual value trailing only Brown, Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins.
  • Cardinals general manager Steve Keim pleaded guilty today to extreme DUI, and the Cardinals subsequently fined and suspended the executive. Kent Somers of AZCentral tweets that there won’t be an interim general manager during Keim’s absence, as the team will ultimately divide his responsibilities. Terry McDonough will likely handle the “evaluation side,” while Mike Disner will focus on contracts and the cap. Somer adds that Keim won’t face further discipline from the NFL.
  • Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that Keim’s suspension “doesn’t preclude” the Cardinals from working out a long-term deal with running back David Johnson, echoing that Disner would likely negotiate the contract. The Pro Bowler skipped mandatory minicamp last month as he looks for a raise on his $1.8MM base salary.
  • Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. The 26-year-old underwent offseason surgery after suffering a Jones fracture in his left foot. The team is hopeful that Greg Olsen‘s primary backup will be ready for the start of the regular season. As Person points out, Manhertz’s absence will provide fourth-rounder Ian Thomas with an opportunity to contribute during training camp.
  • Earlier today, the NFL reinstated Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory on a conditional basis. Naturally, after appearing in only two games over the past two seasons, the 25-year-old is excited about the prospect of returning to the NFL. “I’m very excited,” Gregory said (via the Dallas News’ Jon Machota on Twitter). “Thanks to the ones who supported me and stood by me. It’s a lot more to the story than it seems and it took me a lot to get to this point. Now I’m ready to make some plays.”
  • Former NFL running back Dexter McCluster has caught on with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL (via CFL.ca). The 29-year-old played in six games with the Chargers during the 2016 season. During his four years with the Chiefs, McCluster compiled 662 rush yards, 1,500 receiving yards, and more than 2,000 return yards.

Larry Fitzgerald Eyeing Post-’18 NFL Future?

Larry Fitzgerald has deliberated about retirement the past two offseasons, and he’s returning to head up the post-Carson Palmer Cardinals offense. But might the future Hall of Famer now be considering playing beyond 2018?

Whispers around the organization point Fitzgerald to a possible future with the team that goes beyond his age-35 season, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports. Setting a rough timeline for his hopes, Steve Wilks included the possibility of 2019 and perhaps 2020 in his hopes for the all-time Arizona great.

I think really that’s a question for him, but I would love to have him back,” Wilks said Wednesday, via Somers. “As I’ve said earlier, next year and maybe even a year after that.”

Fitzgerald’s put together three strong seasons in his early 30s and has made the Pro Bowl in 10 of the past 11 years. His future with the Cards could depend on how quickly Josh Rosen can acclimate, and Arizona does have a new supporting cast of wideouts — headlined by second-rounder Christian Kirk — it’s installing this offseason. Poor quarterback play in between Kurt Warner and Palmer limited Fitzgerald in the early 2010s, so Rosen figures to be an important component to Fitz’s future. As will his fit in Arizona’s new offense after he flourished in Bruce Arians‘.

Fitz, naturally, did not make any big proclamations about a longer-term future.

I’m just trying to get through February in one piece,” Fitzgerald said, via Somers. “I don’t buy green bananas. I don’t have time to watch ’em ripe. I’ve got to get it now.”

If Fitzgerald stays healthy this season, he will almost certainly surpass Terrell Owens for No. 2 in all-time receiving yards. He has 15,545 in 14 seasons; that’s 389 shy of Owens’ mark. Fitzgerald is 315 receptions away from Jerry Rice‘s standard of 1,549. That’s his best chance to catch one of the legend’s marks, and it would take at least three more seasons to get there. He’s 18 touchdown receptions away from moving into the top five, thus supplanting Marvin Harrison (128).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald To Play In 2018

Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going anywhere. In a radio interview, Cardinals coach Steve Wilks told 98.7 FM in Arizona that the wide receiver will return for the 2018 season. Larry Fitzgerald (vertical)

It’s a very exciting time for all of us. To all the Arizona Cardinals fans around the world, it’s very exciting because Larry mentioned to me last night that he is coming back for the 2018 season,” Wilks said. “I’m extremely excited…You’re talking about a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. I couldn’t be more excited to have Larry coming back next year. He is totally committed — those are his words — so we’re ecstatic to have him be part of the Arizona Cardinals.”

The 11-time Pro Bowler is now set to take the field for his 15th NFL season. Even at his advanced age, Fitzgerald is still among the best at his position. After moving to the slot in 2015, the veteran has topped 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each season and has cemented his status as one of the game’s all-time greats. This past season, despite being the league’s oldest wideout, Fitzgerald caught a career-high 109 passes and tallied 1,156 receiving yards with six touchdowns.

Thanks to the one-year extension signed in November, the Cardinals have Fitzgerald under contract for $11MM in 2018. The deal includes a no-trade clause and incentives that can give him an extra $1MM if he reaches No. 2 on the league’s all-time receiving list. Fitzgerald can hit that marker with 92 catches to top tight end Tony Gonzalez’s 1,325 career catches. That’s very doable since Fitzgerald has averaged 108 grabs over the past three years. He also only needs 390 receiving yards to pass Terrell Owens’ 15,934 for No. 2 all-time.

This week, the Cardinals promoted assistant receivers coach Kevin Garver to WR coach, a move that reportedly pleased Fitzgerald and may have nudged him towards playing. Quarterback Carson Palmer and coach Bruce Arians are gone, but Garver will be among the familiar faces for Fitz in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Cowboys, Cards, Falcons

The Cowboys are expected to name Doug Nussmeier as tight ends coach, sources tell ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Nussmeier has a lengthy resume, including stints as the offensive coordinator for Florida, Michigan, and Alabama. The former NFL backup quarterback also served as the Rams’ quarterbacks coach under Scott Linehan, the Cowboys’ current OC.

More from the coaching ranks:

  • The Cardinals announced that they have promoted assistant receivers coach Kevin Garver to WR coach and inside linebackers coach Larry Foote to LB coach. The retention of Garver should be a plus for Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM tweets. The veteran is deliberating whether to play in 2018 or retire and the presence of Garver could push him towards continuing his career.
  • The Falcons announced three additions to their coaching staff: running backs coach Bernie Parmalee, offensive assistant Chad Walker, and assistant special teams coach Mayur Chaudhari. Parmalee served as the Raiders’ running backs coach from 2015-17. While the running game wasn’t always great in Oakland during that time, the Raiders did average 120.1 yards on the ground in 2016, the sixth-most in the league. Parmalee is best known for his days as an NFL running back for the Dolphins and Jets.
  • The Panthers hired former University of Michigan offensive graduate assistant coach Drew Terrell as an offensive quality control coach, per a team announcement. Terrell first made a name for himself as a wide receiver/punt returner at Stanford where he earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 as a returner three times.

Latest On Larry Fitzgerald’s Plans

Larry Fitzgerald plans to decide about returning for a 15th season this month.

Despite the Cardinals potentially not knowing what quarterbacks are going to be on the roster until possibly the draft, the 34-year-old said he intends to let his team know “in a week or so” (Twitter link, via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).

The future Hall of Fame wideout added he’s “excited about what the future holds,” and he’s confident in Steve Keim acquiring the right pieces to help the Cardinals re-emerge as a contender.

I’m contemplating it, absolutely,” Fitzgerald said, regarding a return for 2018, during an NFL Network appearance (via ESPN). “I’m excited about what the future holds. Obviously there’s some things that need to happen in terms of personnel, draft and things like that to help our team improve,” he said. “but I’m confident that [general manager] Steve Keim and his group are going to do a good job with that.”

Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert are free agents as well for the Cardinals, who are expected to be in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes. Although, Arizona’s cap situation is not as friendly as the other teams expected to vie for Cousins.

Regardless, Fitzgerald committing to come back in February would not give him much intel about the offense he would be coming back to. The former Pitt dynamo did, however, commit to returning last season on February 1, so he appears to be operating on a similar timeline. Palmer, though, was in the picture at that point.

Fitzgerald signed a one-year, $11MM extension for 2018 and stands to carry a $15.85MM cap number. So, it would help the Cardinals — projected to have just $8.7MM in cap space — to know if their top receiver was returning for planning purposes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Larry Fitzgerald Would Only Play For Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald is pondering his future in the NFL, but there’s no question about where he wants to play, according to his father. Larry Fitzgerald Sr. says that his son is only interested in playing for the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald (vertical)

There’s no chance,” Fitzgerald Sr. told Gil Brandt and Alex Marvez of SiriusXM. “This will be it. If it’s not with the Cardinals, we’ve seen the last of Larry Fitzgerald in the National Football League wearing No. 11.

Still, it’s not clear when Fitzgerald will make the call on playing versus retiring. At the moment, the 34-year-old (35 in August) has a lot to digest between the team’s hiring of Steve Wilks as head coach and the retirement of Carson Palmer, which leaves the team without a clear successor at quarterback. If Fitzgerald decides to move forward with the new-look Cardinals, there’s already a contract in place thanks to his one-year, $11MM extension signed in November.

Fitzgerald has plenty of incentive to return to football, including his pursuit of a Super Bowl ring and his own personal place in the record books. With another 92 catches and 390 receiving yards, he’ll bypass Tony Gonzalez and Terrell Owens for second all-time on the NFL’s receptions and receiving yards list, respectively.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Fitzgerald, Talib, Titans, Jets

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald has yet to make his intentions for the 2018 season public knowledge, but signs are point toward the future Hall of Famer returning for his 15th NFL campaign.

New offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said he has talked with Fitzgerald and that the receiver is “excited,” reports ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. Fitzgerald reportedly told the new offensive coordinator is verbiage was similar to previous coaches Bruce Arians and Ken Whisenhunt.

Kurt Warner also said that he gets the sense that Fitzgerald is leaning toward returning, the Hall of Fame quarterback said on 98.7 Arizona Sports radio“Last couple of times I’ve talked, I really feel like he wants to come back and play this season and he’s more committed to it. But that was before all the changes that took place.But I get the feeling that he is going to come back.”

Fitzgerald hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down in recent years. After moving to the slot in 2015, the perennial Pro Bowl selection has cleared 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each season and has cemented his status as one of the game’s all-time greats.

Though he is leaning toward returning, his status is sure to be decided by what the Cardinals do to fill the vacancy at quarterback left by the retirement of Carson Palmer. With plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, the team making a run at Redskins signal-caller Kirk Cousins for a quick fix would make plenty of sense.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of Cousins, the soon-to-be free agent is expected to receive plenty of interest from the Jets. On Monday, former head coach Mike Shanahan praised Cousins as a special player, the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta writes. This portends to the Jets, as new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was groomed under Shanahan in Denver. Shanahan said: “I think Kirk Cousins could be successful in any offense that he ran. Those quarterbacks are hard to find.”
  • The Broncos, according to reports, have recently placed cornerback Aqib Talib on the trade block. ABC 7 in Denver’s Troy Renck looked at a few possible destinations for the veteran cornerback, listing the 49ers, Rams and Cowboys. Talib is signed through the 2019 campaign.
  • Bills center Eric Wood put his retirement on hold and remains on the Bills roster due to the team’s salary cap restrictions, ESPN’s Mike Rodak reports (Twitter link). When he is eventually moved to the retired list, Wood will receive $4.8 MM in injury guaranteed salary for 2018, while keeping the $4.3M in signing bonus paid, tweets NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
  • The Titans have hired Raiders wide receivers coach Rob Moore for the same position, ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets. He also notes the team interviewed former Raiders running backs coach Bernie Parmalee last week.
  • The Panthers will hire Travelle Wharton as an assistant offensive line coach, ESPN’s David Newton hears. Wharton previously spent two stints with the Panthers as an offensive lineman.