The Arizona Cardinals have not placed wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on the trading block. They are not actively shopping him, nor are they even fielding any calls for one of the best players on the planet. Fitzgerald enters the 2012 NFL season with the Cardinals as the one player who can help them win games.
I just wanted to make all that crystal clear before you all start writing your nasty comments. I am not making up a rumor, or saying that the Cardinals are on the verge of trading Fitzgerald to, say, the New England Patriots.
But damn, what a fit that would be for everyone involved.
Regardless, it is not on the horizon. Not to the best of my knowledge, at least.
And again, before you start ripping me and my articles and this site and many other great sites I write for, at least do me the honor or finishing reading this piece first.
Fitzgerald is signed to a contract that takes him through the 2018 NFL season. The Cardinals signed him because they know he is one of the top two or three receivers and playmakers in the game, and that is why they still owe him an average of over $17 million per year throughout the duration of his contract. They love him in Arizona.
But they still have to ask themselves one question at the end of the day and, especially at the end of each season that the Cardinals fail to make the playoffs.
As good as Fitzgerald is, can he help the team enough to get them back to seriously contending for a Super Bowl championship, or at least a deep run through the NFC Playoffs?
If they are honest with themselves, the answer is probably a hesitant no, despite how highly they think of his talent.
Yes, when Fitzgerald has an elite quarterback, he may be the hardest player to stop, and I even include Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions in that conversation. People look at the two over the last two years or so, and see what Johnson can do, but they forget what Fitzgerald did when Kurt Warner was throwing him the ball.
But recently, Fitzgerald has not had the luxury of having a future Hall of Fame QB looking his way with the ball. Throughout his career, Fitzgerald has already played with 12 different starting quarterbacks. Entering the 2012 campaign, Fitzgerald is looking at another year with John Skelton and Kevin Kolb. Now, had the Cardinals been able to convince Peyton Manning to sign with Arizona, then this article would have never been published. This idea would have been moot.
But Manning signed with the Denver Broncos, leaving the Cardinals with even a decent quarterback on the roster to get the ball to Fitzgerald.
With that being said, is it worth paying a wide receiver over $17 million per year if you don’t have a good enough quarterback to compete for a Super Bowl? It is an awful lot of money to pay one player who, despite his nearly unprecedented level of talent, cannot help the team win by himself.
And unless the Cardinals land a top tier QB within the next couple of years, they should seriously look into the possibility of trading Fitzgerald. While his an ideal player for a team both on and off the field, Fitzgerald is 29-years-old as week one approaches this weekend. He is still one of the best in the game but, eventually, this will turn into a bad contract for the team. After all, he will be 35-years-old as he enters the final year of his contract, and will most likely no longer be a wide receiver who merits a $17 million annual contract.
But while he is still worth every penny of his deal, Arizona could consider what they could get in return for Fitzgerald. So many teams are just one elite receiver away from being able to call themselves a legitimate Super Bowl contender. While Fitzgerald may not be going anywhere this season or next, at some point, the Cardinals have to consider moving their top player if they are unable to land a top quarterback to help maximize his talents.