The Larry Fitzgerald Situation
By Joe Darrah
t wasn't all that long ago that Larry Fitzgerald made a verbal push for — and eventually influenced the Cardinals' decision to acquire — quarterback Kevin Kolb. With the team now having lost 14 of its last 20 games since that transaction, albeit without the presence of Kolb since his release early in 2013, is it time for Fitzgerald to flip the script and lobby for his own trade out of the desert?
The reality is the developing scenario could lead the organization to pull the trigger on a deal involving Fitzgerald very soon. At 2-2 (four weeks into this season), the timing may not be better for a player who is still among the game's elite receivers, playing for a team that is likely headed for a rebuilding phase if it doesn't win find a way to beat the Seahawks a few weeks from now.
With his return to full practice this week, and subsequent six-catch, 68-yard (including the game-winning touchdown) performance, an indication that he's avoided any long-term concerns with a hamstring injury that limited him for two consecutive games, Fitzgerald's value is likely never to be any higher. Though the money remaining on the eight-year deal he inked in August 2011 is one of the league's highest (average $15 million per season), the attractiveness to the terms is the length, which runs through 2018. For a team that is in the market for a receiver, and in contention for a serious postseason run (hello, San Fran), taking a chance on Fitzgerald would seem a no-brainer. The difficulty lies in defining "contention."
The question becomes, how long should the Cardinals wait to define their season? The measuring stick will present itself two weeks from now with a visit to San Francisco, followed by the Seattle matchup. But if Arizona were to lose this week's contest against Carolina, right after looking quite uninspiring in eking out a win against the reeling Buccaneers, a gravestone for the season could quickly be envisioned. The most likely of occurrences is that they take care of business against the Panthers and lose to the 49ers, which would set up a make-or-break Seattle game. A win there would certainly give the season validity with three more divisional showdowns remaining on the slate. At that point, though, is the chance for recurrent injury too risky?
It's a dicey situation that very well could develop with each loss the team incurs. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals proceed, as well as how vocal Fitzgerald becomes should the losses begin to mount. Remember, he's already expressed interest in going into TV broadcasting after he retires in a recent commercial.