The Cardinals and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald are working on getting Fitzgerald a new contract that would be both manageable for the team and lucrative for Fitzgerald.
While wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald spends the week in Hawaii preparing for the Pro Bowl, the Cardinals have made a contract extension offer in an effort to lower Fitzgerald's monstrous salary cap figure for 2008.
General manager Rod Graves declined to get specific about the offer but did say it is substantial enough to raise Fitzgerald near the top of the NFL contract food chain.
"Larry has proven himself to be an elite player, and the offer would put him among the elite players," Graves said. "We feel good about our offer."
Contract conversations have been ongoing with the team and Fitzgerald's agent, Eugene Parker. Graves said there have been "steady talks" over the past couple of weeks.
The situation is crucial for the franchise. Free agency begins at the end of the month, and Graves acknowledged it would behoove the Cards to have Fitzgerald's new deal in place before then.
"His cap number will have an affect with how we proceed in free agency," Graves said, allowing that without a new deal, the Cards not only will be hamstrung with new players but also re-signing their own free agents.
Fitzgerald's salary is scheduled to be $14.6 million this season, with a cap number around $16 million.
Because of the importance of Fitzgerald's situation, Graves said the team's other offseason business has been relegated to the back burner.
Linebacker Calvin Pace is all but assured of becoming a free agent. The team expected Pace to at least try the free-agent waters once it was late in the season and Pace was so close to the open market.
Linebacker Karlos Dansby also is scheduled to be a free agent, but if a new deal is not reached – unlikely at this point – the team will use the franchise tag on him.
If Dansby is tagged, the Cards will have until July 15 to reach a long-term contract. If they cannot, Dansby would play for $8.07 million this season and the two sides cannot discuss a new deal again until after the final game of the 2008 season.
"We will keep working on it," Graves said. "All three of those guys, Larry, Karlos and Calvin, have expressed a desire to stay here. We just want to work a deal (with Fitzgerald) where we don't lose any ground (building the team)."
Graves confirmed two stories around the team that cropped up during Super Bowl week. Quarterback Matt Leinart has no knee issues, Graves said, a topic that had been reported during the week. Graves also seconded coach Ken Whisenhunt's comments that Antrel Rolle will be moving from cornerback to safety.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 2/7/08.