Saturday, July 13, 2013

Larry Fitzgerald a Potential Cap Casualty?

Larry Fitzgerald is one of the greatest players in the NFL today and arguably one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game. However, even though he has or soon will have just about every significant wide receiver record in Arizona Cardinals history the team may have to do the unthinkable.

They may have to cut or trade him.

In 2011 Fitzgerald signed a heck of a contract, an 8-year deal worth $120 million. Anyone that watches football--especially fantasy football nuts--will tell you he is worth it. Even though he has struggled with poor quarterback play outside of Kurt Warner he has amassed over 10,000 receiving yard before turning 30.

So why on Earth would the Cardinals even consider cutting or trading him? Well, because within the next year or two he may be too expensive to keep.

Next season his cap hit is going to be $10.25 million. In 2014 it shoots up to $18 million and than up even further in 2015 to $21.25 million. For a team that is in need of so many things to become competitive that could be too much for the team to handle.

Right now the Cardinals are not hurting for cap room, but as new head coach Bruce Arians looks to build the team into a competitor he may need some of the space that Fitzgerald's monster contract takes up.

Where this could get difficult (or interesting depending on your perspective) is if Fitzgerald bounces back this season after one the worst statistical years since his rookie season. If he were to get back above the 1000 yard mark--or back to the 1400 yard mark like in 2011--that would make any decision even tougher.

Than there is his age to consider. He turns 30 before this season starts. At his age a decline is expected. That doesn't mean it will happen, but statistically speaking it usually does.

If he doesn't improve the team could be looking at paying a sub-1000 yard wide receiver $18 million in 2014. Whether the QB issues continue will not matter. No one spends that much money for such little production.

On the other hand he could explode once again and become the guy fans know and love once again making a cut out of the question, but not a trade. Than again, there are not likely going to be too many teams that will want to take on his contract or give up what the Cardinals are likely going to demand.

Fitzgerald could also restructure his contract to ease the burden on the team, but that just means that some of the latter years will be weighted even more against the cap. With him being even older than it could become even harder to justify paying him what his contract will dictate.

So it will not happen this season or maybe even next, but don't be surprised if it does happen in time.

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