Larry Fitzgerald

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.

Cardinals Notes: Fitzgerald, Wilks, Bidwill

On Tuesday morning, the Cardinals introduced new head coach Steve Wilks to the public. Here’s a look at the highlights from the presser, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise:

  • Wilks said he had an “in-depth conversation” with wide reciever Larry Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald didn’t say whether or not he’s playing in 2018 (via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com). However, Wilks said he’d “love” to have Fitzgerald back. Recently, Fitzgerald indicated that the team’s choice of a replacement for Bruce Arians would factor heavily in his decision. It’s not immediately clear how Fitzgerald feels about the hiring of Wilks, a defensive-minded coach.
  • Team president Michael Bidwill said he knew on Saturday that Wilks was his guy, so therefore he did not feel the need to interview any candidates who were coaching in the Super Bowl (via Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic). John DeFilippo, Jim Schwartz, and Brian Flores were all in the running for the job, but Arizona did not want to risk losing Wilks by waiting. Matt Patricia was also up for the position, but he agreed to join the Lions earlier this month.
  • When asked about the defensive scheme he’ll employ, Wilks said, “I’ve coached both 3-4 and 4-3. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” (via Darren Urban of the team website). The Cardinals were a 3-4 team last year while the Panthers employed a 4-3 scheme. It sounds like Wilks intends on keeping Arizona in the 3-4 set.
  • Wilks wants to have coordinators in place by the Super Bowl (link via Somers). The Cardinals are considering former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for the OC job and may look at Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy. On the other side of the ball, Panthers linebackers coach Al Holcomb is the expected hire.

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.