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Play, Not Pay, On Michael Floyd's Mind

Wide receiver heads into contract year primed for big things in Cardinals' explosive offense

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Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd is heading into his contract year.


A year ago, Michael Floyd's training camp was derailed by three dislocated fingers, an ugly injury that set the wide receiver back physically.

Floyd is healthy this year, the only question surrounding the former first-round draft pick not about Floyd in 2016 but beyond.

He goes into the final year of his rookie contract this year, scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. There is a good chance it won't be settled prior to season's end, but that can't be part of Floyd's mindset.

"I think if you think about it too much it messes with a lot of things mentally," he said. "I try not to worry about it at all."

It's a fair point, but his status is still hard to ignore. Coach Bruce Arians noted players in their contract year often arrive in better shape, ready to make a money run. Floyd has always been in good condition and Arians said his work ethic has never been questioned – but "there is a difference in them when they are playing for a contract."

That could pay off spectacularly for the 2016 Cardinals.

While the finger injury slowed Floyd's start, he was excellent the second half of the season, gaining more than 100 yards in five of his final eight games (he missed one game down the stretch with a hamstring problem). Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said Floyd is faster than many think because he has a deceptive running gait, and his 6-foot-3 frame allows him to physically outmuscle many defensive backs.

On a team with so many other options – not the least of which being Larry Fitzgerald, who is often drawing defensive attention – it allows Floyd one-on-one matchups he most often wins.

"He's matured every year," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "Being a young guy coming out of a big school and not getting to play right away is a little bit humbling. But he's just so consistent. He never asks for the ball, he never says 'Oh, I was wide open.' He's so realistic the way he plays the game. He doesn't care if it is Smokey (Brown) or Dre (Ellington) or JJ (Nelson) or whoever gets the

touches."

Floyd has had only one 1,000-yard season in his four years, that coming in 2013. But the last two seasons he has emerged as a potent deep threat, averaging more than 17 yards a reception on 99 catches.

That is bound to attract interest if he were to reach the open market. The Cardinals' wide receiver room is jammed, and with Fitzgerald recently re-upping for 2017, keeping Floyd in Arizona isn't a simple process.

"You look around and see some of the money that's been handed out to some of the guys who haven't had Mike's kind of success thus far," Fitzgerald said. "He's not oblivious to that fact, and we all understand he's a key component to what we're all able to do. Not having him at his best after the hand injury last year, we weren't clicking on all cylinders. Once Mike started playing like he's capable of playing, he's one of the most dominant guys in the league. We all want to see Mike rewarded for his hard work."

Expectations are high, from Drake to Arians to Palmer. That includes Floyd, as he seeks a simple equation that will eventually lead to a new – and large – contract.

"I'm going out there and making plays," Floyd said. "That's my job, that's what I've got to do, that's what my teammates expect of me. That's what I expect of myself. Making plays, and the rest will take care of itself."

Pictures from the 10th practice of training camp



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