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The Future Of Larry Fitzgerald And Wide Receiver

Posted Feb 24, 2016

With contracts expiring after 2016, Cardinals will consider position in draft

Cardinals wide receivers Michael Floyd (left) and Larry Fitzgerald hug after Floyd's touchdown against the Vikings last season.

INDIANAPOLIS – A year ago, the Cardinals opened the Scouting combine by clearing up their most pressing issue: Re-doing Larry Fitzgerald’s contract.

General Manager Steve Keim had no such glaring issues this year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t future considerations to mull – including what might happen with Fitzgerald, and the team’s wide receiving corps, after the season.

Fitzgerald, who enjoyed a renaissance season in 2015 with a career-best 109 catches, will have his contract expire after the 2016 season. The contract of fellow receiver Michael Floyd is also up after this season.

Fitzgerald’s situation is more complicated. He will turn 33 before the season, and in an NFL world where players are turning to retirement even before their skills have eroded, that could be an option for Fitzgerald.

“You always think about it,” Keim told azcardinals.com Wednesday. “It really comes down to the player, it comes down to what his thought process Is moving forward. Does Larry want to play another year or two? He’s probably is going to reassess and evaluate where his body is at. How does he feel?

“I know there is no doubt the one thing that drives him is to win a championship. There is no doubt, in my opinion, he is a Hall of Fame player already, so what drives Larry Fitzgerald is to win that trophy, win that ring. Until he does that it’s hard for me to see him calling it quits, so hopefully we can answer that question this year.”

Floyd overcame dislocated fingers in training camp and a slow start to finish hot – he had 36 catches for 636 yards and four touchdowns in his final eight games of the season. He is scheduled to make around $7 million on his rookie contract option.

Keim said Floyd is a “guy we’ll look at addressing” with a new contract, although he said nothing is imminent.

“Mike has made tremendous strides, particularly this past year, not only from a skill-set standpoint but from a maturity standpoint,” Keim said. “His work ethic, his passion for the game, I think he took it to another level.”

The Cardinals like what they have in young wideouts John Brown – who had his first 1,000-yard season – and J.J. Nelson. Coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday the goal is to get Nelson, the speedster who averaged 27 yards on his 11 catches as a rookie, on the field more.

Brown was a third-round pick in 2014 and Nelson was a fifth-round pick in 2015. Keim said he wouldn’t rule out using a draft pick on a wide receiver for a third straight year.

“Particularly when you see Larry’s contract expires next year, Michael Floyd is on the tender right now, when you look at overall depth moving forward, there are some questions,” Keim said. “Again, you can never have enough good players at a particular position. So if we find a guy we think can help us, we will certainly address that position.”

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