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Free Agent Spotlight: Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald

Could “Larry Legend” take a run at a Super Bowl with a new team - and familiar coaches?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

There’s going to be some big names on the market, some major players cut from their teams, and a huge shakeup around the NFL. That means we may see some long time mainstays change uniforms.

There are some players you can only picture in one uniform for the entirety of their career. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were definitely those kinds of players - until all of a sudden they weren’t. Could an eleven time Pro Bowler and seventeen year veteran be next in line?

Larry Fitzgerald’s Career Thus Far

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to really rewind the clock for this one. As a standout player for Pitt, Fitzgerald was a First-team All-Big East, a unanimous All-American, Big East Offensive Player of the Year, Walter Camp Award recipient, Biletnikoff Award winner, Heisman Trophy runner-up, and NCAA Football Cover Athlete. That’s right - Larry Fitzgerald played in college so long ago they still had a video game.

He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the third overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and hasn’t looked back since. On top of his eleven Pro Bowls, Fitz was also an All-Pro (2008) as well as the Walter Payton Man of the Year (2016), and a member of the All-2010’s Team.

In his seventeen year career, Fitzgerald has missed a total of just nine games and has first ballot Hall of Fame inductee written all over him. 1,432 receptions, 17,492 yards, 121 touchdowns, and 906 receptions for a first down. He will be turning 38 years old before the 2021 season begins, but still has some solid football in him should he choose to play. In fact, in the 2020 season, Fitz finished with the second highest catch percentage of his career (75%) - however, he also had a career low in targets (72), receptions (54), yards (409), and touchdowns (1).

Though, when your team trades for the best wide receiver in football on top of having a young impressive corps of promising talent, Fitz was sure to be lost in the shuffle at times.

Why It Works

For starters, he knows the coaching staff and knows the scheme. He won’t be a star outside of just his name, but he isn’t that on his current team either. Larry had incredible output in his time with Bruce Arians - even though BA moved him into that slot role. Fitz took on the challenge, becoming one of the best blocking receivers in the NFL.

While teamed up with Arians, Fitz had 470 receptions for 5,132 yards, and 33 touchdowns. He had a career high in receptions (109) twice during Arians’ tenure in Arizona and also made it to the Pro Bowl in four of the five years.

Larry has already accepted his time as a role player and not the number one option. With players like Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller on the roster, Fitz has plenty of knowledge and experience that can be passed down to two young players that haven’t even scratched the surface of their potential. On top of that, he has someone in Mike Evans that can still get better despite being one of the best receivers in the league since he was drafted in 2014.

Fitzgerald wouldn’t disrupt anything, can provide a reliable target to move the sticks, and can help young guys with their development.

But....

We have no idea what his intentions are. For all we know, Fitz is ready to hang them up and call it a career. He’s had opportunities in the past to leave Arizona - even when they had no chance of winning - but he remained loyal to the franchise, the fans, and his teammates. There’s no indication that will change now, even though he would have the chance to play with Tom Brady or play for Bruce Arians one more time.

Another thing to think about is that the Cardinals may actually have a shot at taking a deep playoff run this year. They were on the cusp of the postseason last year and Kyler Murray is showing serious flashes of talent already. With the addition of J.J. Watt, the Cardinals aren’t in any kind of rebuild or “playing it slow” type of mindset - they expect to win and win now. If Larry were to return for an eighteenth season, why not stick with the team he’s played for his entire career and try to finish what he started, coming up just short in the franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

What’s The Cost?

That’s the thing - it can’t be much, right? Last year, Fitz made $11-million dollars. In fact, he’s made $11-million per year since 2015. But if he’s going to give this thing one more run for the sake of winning a championship, there aren’t too many teams that would be lining up to sign him for that kind of money.

Larry Fitzgerald is an $11-million dollar name with $4-5-million in production. He’s amassed $180,719,110 in his career so money shouldn’t be an issue - it will all be about the right team, the right fit, and the chance to win a ring before he trades in his jersey for a gold jacket.

What We Don’t Know

We don’t know his intentions, his interest in leaving Arizona, or his potential interest in the Buccaneers. We also don’t know if the Buccaneers would want to bring in someone like Fitz at 38 years old or if they’d rather roll the dice on Antonio Brown again - who would still likely cost less than Fitz due to the off-field questions and issues still looming overhead.

The biggest question that must be answered before all else is whether or not Fitzgerald even wants to return to football. He has nothing left to prove and very little he could possibly accomplish that he hasn’t done already.

Make The Decision

So what say you? Would you want to see a living legend like Larry Fitzgerald join the Buccaneers to chase a ring? Or would you rather roll the dice on someone like Antonio Brown or an incoming rookie to help the receiving corps?

Let us know in the poll or in the comments below. This may be a luxury signing or a nostalgic one, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t like Larry Fitzgerald. Adding his experience, his leadership, and his personality to the locker room would be a fantastic fit - as would his work within the community.

Poll

When It Comes To Larry Fitzgerald, What Would You Have The Buccaneers Do?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Sign Him, No Matter What
    (14 votes)
  • 28%
    Make An Offer, But Keep It Reasonable
    (96 votes)
  • 25%
    Invite Him For A Cup Of Coffee And See Where It Goes
    (87 votes)
  • 11%
    Call Him Up If They Have A Need After The Draft
    (39 votes)
  • 29%
    Nope. Don’t Need Him
    (101 votes)
337 votes total Vote Now