For the second time in five months, the “Will Larry Fitzgerald retire” question is popping up. This time, the scary part for the Arizona Cardinals is that Fitzgerald’s reportedly basing his decision on whether or not QB Carson Palmer returns.
Gulp. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network came on my Fox Sports Radio show in December and said that Palmer, 37, was contemplating retirement. But what about a Palmer/Fitzgerald 1-2 punch retiring at the same time?
In fact, a source informed of Fitz’s thinking said that if Palmer walks away, it might be harder for Fitzgerald to return unless he knows who will replace Palmer.
Fitzgerald is due to make $11 million in 2017, while Palmer is set to make $17.5 million in salary and bonuses. Both signed contract extensions in August, but neither deal is expected to impact any retirement decision. If the money is freed up, the Cardinals would have the cash to go get a veteran quarterback such as Tony Romo or Mike Glennon.
Arizona was 14-2 in 2015 and went to the NFC Championship game; then took a major step back to 7-8-1 and they missed the playoffs. Now you’re talking about losing a veteran QB – who was runner up for the 2015 MVP – and the face of the franchise who led the NFL in receptions in 2016?
Yes, Arizona still has an elite running back in David Johnson (2nd on the team in receptions), and a pair of speedy receivers in JJ Nelson and John Brown, but they’d be in dire need of a possession receiver (remember, they dumped Michael Floyd after his DUI).
I’d stop short of calling it a rebuild, but are they as attractive to a QB like Tony Romo if Fitzgerald is also gone? One could envision a scenario where they pursue Romo, and he convinces Fitzgerald to stick around for another year.