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Cards Turn Attention To Fitz Contract

Graves: Team plans to make receiver highest-paid in franchise history


The Cardinals want to make wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald one of the highest-paid players in the NFL with a new contract extension.

FLAGSTAFF – The rush of signings is over for the Arizona Cardinals.

The team will continue to watch over what is available, general manager Rod Graves said – for instance, he noted the Cards will "keep an eye on" wide receiver Braylon Edwards' free agency – but now there is just one contract that needs to get done.

The extension for Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

"I'm focusing my attention on Larry's deal," Graves said Monday. "I believe, with his cooperation, there is no reason we can't get a deal done before the start of the season."

Fitzgerald's contract runs out after this season. The Cards and his agent began talks on a new deal back in February, and both sides understand what is at stake. Money has never been an issue from the Cardinals' point of view, and Graves reiterated that Monday, saying the team is prepared to make Fitzgerald the highest-paid player in franchise history and one of the highest-paid players in the NFL, period.

The other reality playing into the talks – that Fitzgerald wants to be on a winner, and wanted to see what the team did to help that, including finding a new quarterback – has also been addressed, Graves said.

"Given the fact we are positioned to be a winner, if that was a concern, it shouldn't be any longer," Graves said.

Fitzgerald signed essentially a four-year contract before the 2008 season (it was for five years but the fifth year quickly voided because of Fitzgerald's performance) for $40 million. His new deal would figure to be worth much more.

Fitzgerald is usually loathe to talk much about his contract status. Monday he handled questions with a smile, joking that all the Cards' moves to add players actually hurts his situation because it leaves less money for him.

"I'm just teasing," Fitzgerald said with a grin.

"Every acquisition we make makes the team better," he added. "I don't want to leave Arizona. This is where I started, I love living in the Valley. I feel this is my family here, and I want to be here as long as I possibly can."

Quarterback Kevin Kolb, who just spent the summer being wooed by Fitzgerald to come to Arizona, said "I'll do my part for sure" to convince Fitzgerald to stay.

"Hopefully we have that chemistry right off the bat and he'll want to stay and we will build a great future and we can go and win a Super Bowl," Kolb said.

Fitzgerald said he doesn't want to think about the contract, saying if he does it will take away from playing football well. "I'm not worried about it," Fitzgerald said. "Whenever it comes it comes."

Graves and the Cards want it to be sooner rather than later, the final emphatic chapter in a whirlwind offseason that has also been productive.

"We're open to more players, but most of my attention is going to go the extension," Graves said, noting that with a player like Edwards, for instance, "as for the wide receiver position, I'm thinking of Larry Fitzgerald first."

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