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Fitz: "This Is Where I Want To Be"

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Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has a laugh Sunday during the Assist4Africa charity basketball game at Arizona State University.

Larry Fitzgerald arrived at Arizona State University's Wells Fargo Arena Sunday to take part in the Assist4Africa charity basketball game.

Inevitably, Fitzgerald wasn't going to be talking about raising money to fight AIDS in Africa or his hoop skills. These days, one topic dominates Fitzgerald's life: his ongoing contract talks.

The Cardinals and their star wide receiver still haven't come to terms on a new deal, and Fitzgerald didn't leave the impression an agreement was imminent. What Fitzgerald did emphasize – both during a brief interview session and again later in casual conversation – is his desire to stay in Arizona.

"Every day is another adventure (with the negotiation)," Fitzgerald said. "(But) I definitely want to be an Arizona Cardinal. I love my organization, I love my teammates. This is where I want to be."

The first couple of days of free agency were as quiet as expected for the Cardinals, who had been hoping to have the Fitzgerald deal in place by now. Published reports have three defensive free agents visiting early this week, beginning Sunday night: Titans defensive ends Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy and Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar.

If the Cardinals end up signing free agents, there is a chance -- as long as Fitzgerald's 2008 salary cap number remains about $16.5 million -- the team would have to release a player to clear cap room.

The Cards are one of only a few teams that has yet to either sign a player or lose a player through free agency. Linebacker Calvin Pace remains on the market, despite getting what is believed to be a hefty offer from Miami on Friday. Pace said Saturday morning via text message he had not agreed to a deal with the Dolphins, contrary to one published report.

Pace, who was also scheduled to meet with the Jets and possibly the Bengals, may not be the first Card to leave. Wide receiver Bryant Johnson visited Buffalo Sunday and at least one report said Johnson had come to terms with the Bills.

Even if Johnson does not go to Buffalo, reports have both Tennessee and Chicago interested in signing Johnson.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals will continue to work on their No. 1 task thus far in the offseason – working out the Fitzgerald contract, which has become high-profile in the public eye.

"It's part of the business," said Fitzgerald, who heard all cheers when he was announced before the game Sunday. "I definitely would like to go under the radar as much as possible. I guess it has to be this way."

Q WINS THE GAME

Before the charity game began Sunday, Boldin said he was just going to "chill" and not work too hard on the court.

"I was, until the last shot," Boldin said a few moments after he drilled the game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left in a 74-71 victory. "I didn't want to lose."

Boldin and Fitzgerald were on the game-winning Charles Barkley team (although Barkley was unable to attend). Berry and former Cardinals Michael Bankston and Kwamie Lassiter played for Kurt Warner's team, with Warner as player-coach.

The Barkley team also featured former Suns Dan Majerle and Mark West. Warner's team featured former Suns Eddie Johnson and Cedric Ceballos, as well as Ravens defensive end Terrell Suggs. (For a photo gallery, click here.)

The money raised went to the Partners in Hope Medical Centre in Malawi of central Africa, an organization fighting AIDS.

"Anything you can do to make a difference," Warner said. "I realized a long time ago it's not what I do on the football field but the legacy I can leave off of it that makes the biggest difference in people's lives. This is just a small part of that."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 3/2/08.

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