Larry Fitzgerald is a sure Hall of Famer once he retires. Drafted 3rd overall in the 2004 NFL draft, Fitzgerald is entering his 16th season in the league all with the Cardinals. He currently holds the record for 2nd all time most receiving yards, 3rd in receptions and 7th in receiving TDs. Despite making the superbowl in 2009, he has never won. But in his 16th season and decreasing stats, what can he contribute this year?
Fitzgerald is now 35 years old and it is fair to say he is past his prime. He had 734 receiving yards last year, his lowest since entering the league. This down turn can’t be solely blamed on him as he had a rookie QB and highly questionable offensive line to play alongside. But there was still a down turn in his performance. And for me, I can see him increasing his yards again this year although not by much I feel. He still has the ability to make the big plays when called on but in truth the cardinals need to start looking elsewhere for his future replacement.
Looking at the remaining wide receivers in the rooster we have the following: Chad Williams (24), Christian Kirk (22), Kevin White (27), Andy Isabella (22), Hakeem Butler (23), Trent Sherfield (23), Damiere Byrd (26), KeeSean Johnson (22), AJ Richardson (22), Pharoh Cooper (24). That adds up to an average age of 23.5 years. As expected, the Cardinals have publicly said that the idea is to have Fitzgerald mentor these young receivers. But in truth, this is can be true. Fitzgerald has grown up in the league and experienced what it takes to be a true professional despite being surrounded by a circus. He does not only have to tell them what to do like a coach would but can show them from the aspect of being their peer.
Looking elsewhere in the offensive, a lot of changes will happen this year. The cardinals have hired a new coach in Kliff Kingsbury who will bring a new offensive scheme. Also, there will be a new quarterback, Kyler Murray, starting at quarterback. This is a lot of change for a team that has already been playing poorly. But Fitzgerald can be the grounding element in the offence that can Kingsbury can use to allow his team to buy into the new system and get up to speed as quick as possible.
Ultimately, Larry Fitzgerald has built a legacy in Arizona and this year won’t change that. I feel he can still contribute to the team. Signing on for another year definitely made sense for the Cardinals, but for Fitzgerald I am not so sure. He must be confident to do his body can take another year but sometimes it is nice to go out on your own terms. As one of the most respected players in the league, I hope he goes out on a high.