The Arizona Cardinals decision to sign seven-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green on Wednesday placed into question the future of franchise legend Larry Fitzgerald.
At first glance, it seemed like Green was brought in to be that veteran presence behind stud pass-catcher DeAndre Hopkins — replacing Fitzgerald in the process.
Rumors of the future first ballot Hall of Famer retiring are nothing new. Fitzgerald, 37, has contemplated retirement over the course of the past few offseasons. Coming off a career-worst performance in 2020, that’s now magnified further. For his part, the 11-time Pro Bowler remains undecided.
As noted above, Fitzgerald saw a major downtick in production for the Cardinals last season. He caught just 54 passes for 409 yards with one touchdown. This come after he put up a combined 144 receptions for 1,538 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018 and 2019.
All said, Fitzgerald has caught at least 100 passes five times in his career while eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark nine times. Seeing his decline in production wasn’t a great feeling for the objective football fan. Whether there’s something left in the tank here remains to be seen.
Should Larry Fitzgerald retire?
That’s the million-dollar question. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of room for him as a top-three receiver for the Cardinals in 2021.
Despite A.J. Green’s injury issues, he should slot in at No. 2 behind Hopkins with youngster Christian Kirk manning the slot. Does Fitzgerald really want to finish out his brilliant career in the desert being a fourth or fifth option?
We’re talking about an all-time great who sits near the top of most receiving lists in NFL history.
- Receptions: 1,432 (2nd)
- Yards: 17,492 (2nd)
- Touchdowns: 121 (6th)
Fitzgerald is 118 catches away from breaking Jerry Rice’s all-time NFL mark. That would take at least the next two seasons for the former Pittsburgh standout to accomplish based on what we saw in 2020.
What we do know is that it’s highly unlikely Fitzgerald plays for another team. He’s not the type to go chase after a ring. If that were the case, the former first-round pick would have already requested a trade from the Cardinals long ago.
One possibility here is that Fitzgerald decides to have a final swan song with the Cardinals. It would be in a limited role. But it would also allow him to go out in grand fashion compared to the team having to play in an empty venue for a majority of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He’s been a fixture within the Arizona community, continuing to prove himself to be altruistic at nearly every turn. I am sure fans in the desert would love to give him a few more resounding applauses and standing ovations before the legend hangs up those cleats.
Whenever Larry Fitzgerald does decide to retire, he will go down as the greatest player in Arizona Cardinals history. He will almost assuredly also be a unanimous first ballot selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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