Larry Fitzgerald

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.

WR Notes: Fitz, Evans, Sutton, Reagor, Lions

Larry Fitzgerald has taken a year-to-year approach to retirement for a while now, but the Cardinals‘ all-time great has continued to return and remain productive. However, he will not spend much time considering a return if the now-Kyler Murray-led team makes a surprise run and wins Super Bowl LV this season.

That would definitely validate me,” Fitzgerald said of a Super Bowl victory, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “You wouldn’t see me around here anymore if that happened. 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.”

Now 37, the league’s oldest active wideout has climbed into second place on both the receptions and receiving yards lists. Needing 172 catches to pass Jerry Rice, Fitz would likely need at least two more full seasons to have a chance to move into the No. 1 spot on that list. A yardage pursuit does not seem remotely attainable. Regarding the Cards’ Super Bowl hopes, they sit 17th at plus-5000 — according to BetOnline.ag — to claim a championship this year.

As Week 1 approaches for 30 teams, here is the latest wide receiver news:

  • Sunday will likely force fantasy managers to make changes, and Tom Brady may well have to adjust in his first game with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have listed Mike Evans as doubtful to face the Saints. Evans did not practice Wednesday or Thursday with a hamstring injury, before being limited Friday. This is a familiar situation for the seventh-year wideout; Evans missed the final three games of the 2019 season with a hamstring malady.
  • Kenny Golladay is on track to miss the first game in his contract season. The Lions listed their top wideout as doubtful as well. The fourth-year standout has also encountered hamstring trouble. Detroit is not particularly deep at wideout, at least in terms of proven targets, but does have Marvin Jones back to start his contract year. The Lions also re-signed Danny Amendola this offseason.
  • The AC joint sprain Courtland Sutton suffered in practice looks likely to shelve him for the Broncos‘ Monday opener against the Titans. While the Broncos are calling their top receiver “day to day,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the third-year standout is a long shot to play in Week 1 (video link). Sutton has not yet missed a game as a pro.
  • Not all the current wide receiver news skews negative. After fears pointed to Jalen Reagor missing multiple September games, the Eagles wide receiver was a full practice participant each day this week and appears on track to play against Washington on Sunday. The first-round pick suffered a torn shoulder labrum during training camp. His presence will certainly help a receiving corps down Alshon Jeffery for the foreseeable future.

Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald To Return

Retirement can wait. On Wednesday, Larry Fitzgerald agreed to a new one-year deal with the Cardinals, setting the stage for his 17th season in Arizona.

The new deal mirrors Fitzgerald’s 2019 pact. No. 11 will earn a base salary of $11MM for the fifth-straight year, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. He’ll also see a roster bonuses of $500K with $250K in additional incentives.

Fitzgerald, the NFL’s oldest active wide receiver, was on the fence about playing in 2020. At the same time, he admitted that he had more fun this past season than in previous seasons.

Fitzgerald led the Cardinals with 804 receiving yards and did not miss a game for the fifth straight campaign. With that, the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer will lace ’em up for at least one more year.

Fitzgerald entered the league as a first-round pick in 2004. Since then, he’s reached the Pro Bowl eleven times and, last year, he moved into second place on the NFL’s all-time receptions list, slotting him between Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez. He’s also No. 2 in receiving yards, second only to Rice.

The Cardinals are coming off of a trying 5-10-1 season, but there’s reason for hope, including star quarterback Kyler Murray. They can also carve out as much as $74MM for free agents in March and add another impact player with the No. 8 overall pick in April.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Rams, Alexander

The Cardinals are in the market for a new special teams leader. They fired ST coordinator Randall McCray, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio tweets. After 26 seasons in the college ranks, McCray joined Steve Wilks‘ Cardinals staff. This was his first NFL job. Additionally, Arizona will sever ties with defensive line coach Chris Achuff, Marvez adds. Also a holdover from Wilks’ staff, Achuff had made the college-to-pro transition, with his most recent role marking his initial NFL gig.

Here is the latest from the NFC West, pivoting first to the Cardinals’ most famous player:

  • The NFL’s oldest active wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals with 804 receiving yards and did not miss a game for the fifth straight season. But yet again, the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer will take time to ponder retirement. Fitz, however, did add that he enjoyed this season more than recent ones, per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. The 2004 first-round pick moved into second place on the NFL’s all-time receptions list this season, currently sitting between Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez with 1,378. Kliff Kingsbury plans to give Fitzgerald an offseason sales pitch to return for his age-37 season.
  • While the Rams received considerably worse play from their highly paid offensive trio of Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks this season, Les Snead pushed back on the notion the recent extensions were the wrong decisions. “From a salary cap standpoint, and I assume the cap does go up, there’s a new collective bargaining agreement that’s coming that’s another variable that we don’t know about,” Snead said, via ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry. “We’ve shown in the past that when you have commodities that you might move on with via trade to collect draft capital that maybe the perception says you don’t have and to clear cap space.” That said, the Rams’ top-market extensions caused them to lose key role players this offseason and have Michael Brockers, Cory Littleton, Austin Blythe and Dante Fowler looming as threats to defect in March. The team soon must shape a Jalen Ramsey re-up as well.
  • Another of the Rams’ many key free agents, Andrew Whitworth is now 38. But the Rams will meet with the veteran left tackle to determine if he still fits into their equation, Thiry adds (via Twitter). Snead said Whitworth’s place on the team is “a harder piece of the puzzle.” He signed a three-year, $33.75MM deal in 2017 to head to Los Angeles and has been a key part of Sean McVay‘s three Rams offenses. Should Whitworth not be brought back, youngsters Joe Noteboom and Bobby Evans stand as successor options, per Thiry.
  • J.J. Watt‘s return from a torn pectoral muscle has prompted questions about Kwon Alexander potentially doing the same. The 49ers linebacker is eligible to return for the team’s divisional-round game, but Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area hears such a re-emergence remains unlikely. The 49ers, however, have not completely given up on their highest-paid linebacker coming back for a potential NFC championship game. (Though, Kyle Shanahan deemed this unlikely.) The 49ers have yet to use their second IR-return slot. Like Watt, Alexander missed his team’s final eight regular-season games.

Cardinals GM Steve Keim On Drake, Fitzgerald, Offseason

It was somewhat surprising when the Cardinals traded for Kenyan Drake in advance of this year’s deadline, given that Arizona was clearly not going to make a postseason run and given that Drake is eligible for unrestricted free agency in March. But GM Steve Keim saw something he liked in the former Dolphins RB and wanted to secure exclusive negotiating rights with him.

Drake has not disappointed, averaging 4.8 yards-per-carry in his six games in Arizona to go along with five scores and 22 receptions for 130 yards. Keim touched on Drake’s future with the team and several other key issues facing the Cardinals this offseason, including Larry Fitzgerald‘s future, in an interview with Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com.

On the Drake trade:

“The mindset of going into the trade, it wasn’t done because we had two backs that were injured and was sort of a stop-gap situation. If that was a the case, my mindset was I would’ve signed a guy off the street. We truly thought this was the type of player Kenyan Drake was. That’s why we made trade and hope this was the kind of success he would have.”

On his hopes of re-signing Drake, and when he might try to do it:

“As far as waiting until after the season (to re-sign Drake), that’s not necessarily the thing either. I would certainly love to have Kenyan Drake back. I think he fits in this offense and he really has given us a spark in many ways.”

On Fitzgerald’s future (for Fitzgerald’s thoughts, see here):

“We would love to have him back. We all know what he brings to the organization. But the one thing you want to do with a player like him is give him the respect he deserves. Allow him to make that decision on his own. But I will say this. This is maybe the most fun I’ve seen him have in the last four years. He’s playing at a high level. I know he likes [head coach] Kliff [Kingsbury] and I know he likes this offense. Doesn’t hurt to have a guy (in quarterback Kyler Murray) who can spin it to him like this too.”

Keim said he will look to upgrade the Cardinals’ O-line this offseason, though he thinks the team’s high sack total is partly due to Murray’s style of play:

“I think Kyler would be the first to tell you there have been quite a few sacks given up that are on him. There has been times when I thought our offensive line has given him the type of protection he’s needed.”

On Murray himself:

“[T]here is no doubt in my mind we hit it through the roof. It’s one thing to be ultra-talented, but the guys who are the great ones, just when everybody thinks they have worked hard and done enough, those guys go above and beyond. There are up late night watching film, trying to find little tells that people don’t see. Just so the speed of the game slows down.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Larry Fitzgerald Discusses Future

It’s seemingly become an annual tradition: as the regular season winds down, reporters ask Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald about his future in Arizona. It was more of the same today, as the veteran was asked if he could be playing his final home game for the organization this weekend.

“It could be,” Fitzgerald said (via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic on Twitter). “You never know. You never know. I don’t give it much thought. I’ve told you before, I stay in the moment, man. The career will end. When it ends, it end.”

The 36-year-old answered similar questions last year, and he ended up re-signing with the Cardinals. Fitzgerald, in theory, could have tested the open market, but he has repeatedly stated that he’s only willing to play in Arizona. If the veteran wants to continue playing, the front office would presumably be willing to ride these one-year contracts.

His 100-catch, 1,000-yard seasons may be a thing of the past, but Fitzgerald has still proven to be a reliable target for rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. The receiver has hauled in 64 receptions for 669 yards and three scores this season. Fitzgerald has spent his entire career with the organization, owning franchise marks in receptions (1,367), yards (16,948), and touchdowns (119).

Surprisingly, Fitzgerald’s head coach is in favor of keeping the veteran around. Kliff Kingsbury said that the receiver could easily be part of the team’s offense in 2020.

“I’ll give him my pitch here in a couple of weeks,” Kingsbury said (via Darren Urban on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Gould, Gordon, Cards, Rams

Robbie Gould said this week he and the 49ers have been negotiating a contract for well over a year. Unless the sides can come to terms by Monday’s deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions, he will be tethered to the 49ers at the current kicker tag rate of $5MM. He has requested a trade and been mulling a holdout.

We’ve been negotiating for 17 months and it’s been a complicated situation,” Gould said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Josh Schrock. “I’m at the point where my agent is going to handle it. If there’s anything I need to know about, then I’ll make a decision.”

The 36-year-old kicker has hit 72 of 75 field goal tries since joining the 49ers in 2017. The trade request Gould made led many to believe he wanted to return to Chicago, where his family resides. But the 15th-year specialist clarified that seeking a spot closer to his family does not necessarily mean solely seeking a Bears reunion. Though, the dot-connecting between Gould the kicker-starved Bears — for whom he played from 2005-15 — is rather easy.

I never said I want to go back there,” Gould said. “I just said I want to be closer to my family. That doesn’t necessarily mean (the Bears).”

Shifting to some non-kicker news, here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Melvin Gordon‘s attempt to secure a new contract brought the Chargers into the news this week. But the team is not yet willing to publicly engage with the disgruntled running back. “We don’t publicly discuss contract negotiations,” the team said in a message sent to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Gordon is set to make $5.6MM on the fifth-year option this season; that figure is nearly $4MM less than Ezekiel Elliott would make on his 2020 option. The 26-year-old back has issued a pay-me-or-trade-me ultimatum and threatened a regular-season holdout.
  • Rams strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath was found not guilty on three misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, a Ventura, Calif., jury ruled Friday, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets. This alleged incident occurred in 2018. Rath, 35, is in his second season as a Rams assistant; he was placed on leave earlier this year.
  • Larry Fitzgerald‘s late-career move to the slot led to an uptick in his reception counts, with the Cardinals’ future Hall of Famer eclipsing 100 catches for three straight seasons from 2017-19. Kliff Kingsbury said the soon-to-be 36-year-old receiver has shown an early chemistry with Kyler Murray and will be moved to different places in formations this season, per Bob McManamon of the Arizona Republic. In a 2018 season that saw the Cardinals rank last in points and total yards, Fitzgerald posted a career-low 734 yards.
  • In the same piece, McManamon lists third-year wideout Chad Williams as being on the Cards’ roster bubble. With the team drafting three receivers to join Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and UFA addition Kevin White, the former Bruce Arians-era third-round pick (20 career catches for 202 yards and one touchdown) may be battling uphill to keep his roster spot.

Contract Details: Fitzgerald, Cardinals, Jags

Here are the contract details on some of the NFL’s latest deals:

  • Larry Fitzgerald‘s new deal with the Cardinals includes a base salary of $11M plus incentives, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The pact does not include a signing bonus, but he did manage to match his $11MM salary from 2018. That’s not a bad deal for the veteran wide receiver given his drop in production last season.
  • The Jaguars‘ three-year deal with safety Jarrod Wilson is worth $9MM, a source tells NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). The contract calls for a $1MM signing bonus, $1.5MM guaranteed, and up to $1.75MM in playtime incentives over the last two years of the deal. Prior to the new deal, he was slated to be a restricted free agent this offseason.
  • Seantrel Henderson‘s new one-year deal with the Texans can be worth up to $4.5MM, but much of that sum is tied to performance incentives, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. He’s set to earn a base salary of $1.5MM with $1MM guaranteed, plus a $500K roster bonus in April and a $500K bonus if he’s on the 46-man roster for at least 12 games. He’ll also see a $2MM roster bonus paid out at a rate of $125K for every game he’s on the 46-man roster.

Cardinals Re-Sign Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald will return for his 16th season. On Wednesday, the Cardinals announced that Fitzgerald is back in the fold with a brand new one-year deal. 

No player has meant more to this franchise or this community than Larry Fitzgerald,” said Cardinals President Michael Bidwill. “In my discussions with him, it was clear that he is as driven and passionate as ever. We are thrilled he’ll be back for 2019.”

Fitzgerald was once again on the fence about retirement, but it appears that the team’s hiring of Kliff Kingsbury helped convince him to continue playing.

Hell of a coach. … Look at his resume,” Fitzgerald said this week. “He’s innovative offensively. That’s the wave of the future right now, so I’m excited for the chance to meet him.”

Fitzgerald, 36 in August, was held to just 69 catches for 734 yards and six touchdowns last year as the Cardinals’ offense sagged. If the Cardinals are able to get back on track and balance things with David Johnson, Fitzgerald will likely be able to get back to his old form. In 2017, his age-34 season, Fitzgerald managed 1,156 yards off of 109 catches with six TDs.

Fitzgerald, in theory, could have tested the open market, but he has repeatedly stated that he’s only willing to play in Arizona.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.