Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald won't think about 2018 until after Sunday's season finale against the Seahawks.
SEATTLE – Larry Fitzgerald thought his NFL career might be over before it started.
When the Cardinals' superstar receiver was in high school, he let his mind wander during class, which resulted in poor grades and a stint at Valley Forge Military School before college.
He eventually made it to the University of Pittsburgh, and then the Cardinals, where he has produced one of the most spectacular careers in NFL history.
As Fitzgerald prepares for the regular season finale on Sunday against the Seahawks, many are wondering if this is the end of the road – for Fitzgerald, for coach Bruce Arians, for quarterback Carson Palmer and the impressive five-year run they have spearheaded together.
Since the Cardinals are out of playoff contention, Fitzgerald's mind could have wandered again this week, but he leaned on that teenaged lesson to stay in the moment.
"What happens after Sunday moving forward, none of us can control that on Thursday," Fitzgerald said. "We just need to focus on the things we can control. I say it all the time, but we can't worry about what happens on Monday on Thursday. We've got a lot of things that we've got to finish here to prepare ourselves for a good win on Sunday."
The Cardinals will fall short of the playoffs, but an 8-8 finish would be impressive considering the slew of injuries, and doing so would eliminate Seattle from playoff contention. Arians could earn his 50th win as the team's head coach, which would break a tie with Ken Whisenhunt for the most in franchise history.
The Cardinals have won three of four under Arians in Seattle, although all of the victories have been orchestrated by Palmer, who won't play because of his broken arm. Drew Stanton is 2-1 this season in his stead, with the loss coming to the Seahawks at home in early November.
Seattle is without Legion of Boom stars Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, while linebacker Bobby Wagner is nursing a hamstring injury. The Seahawks still have quarterback Russell Wilson, and are hoping to couple a win with a Falcons loss so they can make the playoffs for a sixth straight year.
"It's a championship game for us," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
The Cardinals have referred to this as their playoff game, knowing the season is done when the final whistle blows. Once it's over, they will head back home, where the critical decisions must be made.
Arians said he will put a cap on the 2017 season during the plane ride, and then turn his attention toward his future. Palmer's 2018 salary becomes fully guaranteed five days after the Super Bowl, per OverTheCap.com, so a decision may need to be made by then.
Fitzgerald signed a one-year extension in mid-November and has 101 catches and 1,101 receiving yards this season, but his status for 2018 is still undetermined. While fans will be hanging on his every word until an official decision is made, Fitzgerald minimized his role in the Cardinals' potentially game-changing offseason.
"I, personally, have no control over 98 percent of the stuff," Fitzgerald said. "All I really have control over is what I decide to do. And that's not really that big of a deal. There are a lot of decisions that are going to be made, and choices. That has nothing to do with me, to be honest with you."
When offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin spoke with the media on Thursday, he wore a Cardinals sweatshirt so old that its letters were peeling off. He said it's a good luck charm, and the fact he could still wear it five years later wasn't lost on Goodwin.
"We've all moved, and that's just the nature of the beast," Goodwin said. "I remember when I first started dating my wife. One of the things I explained to her was, 'This is what I want to do. One day we can be here. The next day we can be there.' That happened a few times. Not drastic, other than moving from Indy to here – living in a house for eight or nine months, selling it and taking a loss."
It's been a stable half-decade for Goodwin. He prepared this week the same as always, and hopes it's not the last time doing so with this group.
"I love being here and hopefully everything works out where we're all here," Goodwin said. "But it's not my call."
Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Seattle Seahawks