Larry Fitzgerald could have sailed into the sunset with his golf clubs after his 14th NFL season, but he plans on remaining that lone, consistent target for the Arizona Cardinals for at least another year.
During an appearance on AZ Sports 98.7 FM, newly-hired Cardinal head coach Steve Wilks announced the future Hall of Famer would indeed return for a 15th season.
— Mark Dalton (@CardsMarkD) February 15, 2018
Fitzgerald, who recently won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament, is returning to a team with a new head coach and no quarterback. Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer both retired after the season, leaving general manager Steve Keim with plenty to fix in a short amount of time.
“I’m excited about what the future holds,” Fitzgerald told ESPN.com in early February. “Obviously there’s some things that need to happen in terms of personnel, draft and things like that to help our team improve, but I’m confident that [general manager] Steve Keim and his group are going to do a good job with that.”
Fitzgerald is a multiple-year All-Pro receiver who has already been to 11 Pro Bowls. He owns nearly every franchise record ever set by a Cardinal wideout. The blood of football royalty runs through his veins.
What else does he have to prove?
The short answer is nothing. The proving part is already done for the 34-year-old legend. However, the chance of winning a Super Bowl and ending his career in a torrential downpour of confetti might be the only dream keeping him from bidding farewell to game he loves.
If not for a perfect pass by Ben Roethlisberger and a perfect catch by Santonio Holmes, the Cardinals might have beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers at Super Bowl XLIII. But they didn’t, and Fitzgerald is destined to join the list of all-time greats who never won a championship.
Some might argue his motives for returning are more in line with moving up the all-time rankings list in yards, receptions and receiving touchdowns. He is only 390 yards and 92 catches away from moving into the No. 2 spot behind Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. He’s also in position to surpass Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates to move into No. 6 all-time in receiving touchdowns.
While building on an all-time great legacy provides some motive, it’s nothing like winning a Super Bowl for the first time. People tend to forget the Cardinals made the NFC Championship Game a couple years ago, losing to Carolina. Their last two seasons have been marred by injuries on both sides of the ball.
Perhaps the right quarterback could steer the team back to the playoffs.
Going after soon-to-be free agent Kirk Cousins would put them in an immediate position to compete next season. It might also extend Fitzgerald’s football life, since he is obviously showing no signs of slowing down. He is coming off a year in which he hauled in 109 receptions for 1,156 yards and six touchdowns with Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton throwing him the ball over half the season.
Imagine what he could do with one of the better passers in the league as his quarterback. You might not have to if the Cardinals go after Cousins.