WR Larry Fitzgerald stays with Arizona under 2-year deal
PHOENIX (AP) — Larry Fitzgerald is staying with the Arizona Cardinals, the only home he’s known in his 11-year NFL career.
The eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver has agreed to a restructured, two-year contract, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim announced at the NFL combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday.
The deal guarantees Fitzgerald $11 million in each of the two years, a person with knowledge of the details said, and will save the Cardinals nearly $13 million off their salary cap figure. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the salary figures had not officially been made public.
Fitzgerald, the widely popular longtime face of the franchise, had four years remaining on his previous contract, which would have paid him $16.5 million next season with a whopping $23.6 million cap hit.
"There were two things we wanted out of this deal," Keim said. "No. 1, we wanted to compensate Larry for the type of players he is and, No. 2, we wanted to set up a deal that would give us enough cap room to improve the team."
Keim and Cardinals President Michael Bidwill had said that resolving the contract issue with Fitzgerald was the team’s top offseason priority. They had long maintained they wanted Fitzgerald to end his career with the Cardinals.
"Once we decided to put our foot on the gas pedal we got it done pretty quickly," Keim said.
If an agreement had not been reached, the Cardinals faced the prospect of releasing arguably the most successful player in franchise history. Certainly no player has made more money off the team in its history.
The restructuring needed to be worked out before Fitzgerald was due an $8 million roster bonus on March 14.
The 31-year-old Fitzgerald has broken virtually every Cardinals receiving records since he was selected by Arizona as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2004 draft. The marks include career receptions, yards receiving and touchdowns. He has 38 100-yard receiving games.
Teaming with Kurt Warner in Arizona’s run to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season, Fitzgerald broke single postseason records for yards receiving (546), receptions (30) and touchdowns (seven). He is the only player to have four 100-yard receiving games in a single playoff run.
In 170 regular-season games, Fitzgerald has 909 catches for 12,515 yards and 89 touchdowns. He has caught a pass in 165 consecutive games. His streak of 110 consecutive games played was broken when he missed two due to a knee injury last season.
His role changed with the arrival of coach Bruce Arians in 2013. Fitzgerald was moved from his accustomed spot as a wideout to slot receiver. That meant he was the target of shorter passes, not the long, downfield, acrobatic grabs that had been his trademark. It was a change that Fitzgerald may have not liked privately, but he maintained a positive public face about it.
Last season was his least productive since his rookie year. He caught 63 passes for 784 yards and a career-low two touchdowns.