Although Fitzgerald didn't shed light on his health often during the Cardinals' underwhelming campaign, he frequently received the oft-used "veteran rest day" in order to avoid undue physical stress during practice. In advance of the Super Bowl, though, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Fitzgerald "got beat up, was dealing with several nagging injuries" in 2016. Fitzgerald took time to make a decision on his future, which was seemingly tied to that of quarterback Carson Palmer. Upon opting to return as of Feb. 1, Palmer made a similar call last Thursday, ensuring the duo will suit up together for the fifth year in a row.
Fitzgerald (undisclosed) is "definitely returning" in 2017, ESPN's Jim Trotter reports.
Fitzgerald was known to be mulling retirement this offseason, but after taking the time to weigh his options, it appears he isn't yet ready to hang up the cleats. Fantasy players should rejoice, as it's clear the All-Pro wideout has plenty left in the tank after pacing the entire league in receptions last season. However, his value in 2017 is contingent upon Carson Palmer's own retirement decision. Should the quarterback return for another season, Fitzgerald will likely remain the go-to receiving option in Arizona for yet another year. If he doesn't, the entire Cardinals offense could suffer.
Fitzgerald has been in discussions with coaches and members of Arizona's front office regarding his future, which may be influenced by quarterback Carson Palmer's potential retirement as well. At 33 years old, Fitzgerald previously was reported to have told his friends that he expected 2016 to be his final NFL season. However, after leading the league with 107 receptions this term, it's clear Fitzgerald can still perform at a high level, making his decision less straightforward. Although the Cardinals' season has only been over for about a month now, the team hopes Fitzgerald will inform them of his decision sooner than later for offseason planning purposes, so news of Fitzgerald's plan could surface in the near future.
Urban didn't cite a reason for Fitzgerald's absence, but after Seattle, a divisional foe, announced Doug Baldwin as the replacement, they noted an injury was to blame for his DNP, per John Boyle of the Seahawks' official site. Fitzgerald will thus embark upon his annual offseason travels, wherein he'll ponder his future in the NFL. Currently, he's locked up contractually through the 2017 campaign.
Fitzgerald reeled in five of seven passes for 43 yards and one touchdown during Sunday's 44-6 victory in Los Angeles.
As Fitzgerald wraps up his 13th professional season, he was extending personal records on a weekly basis and setting the occasional NFL record. Sunday was no different, as his fifth and final catch of the day was a five-yard TD strike from Carson Palmer, ensuring a league-leading 107 catches for the campaign and becoming the first player the top the NFL in receptions 11 yards apart (2005 and 2016). While Fitzgerald is under contract for another year, he intends to take a wait-and-see approach with his future. If he's indeed laced up the cleats for the last time, he proved that he went out in tip-top shape, hauling in 71.3 percent of the passes thrown his way for 1,023 yards and six scores.
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