If Larry Fitzgerald returns for his 18th season, it'll be with the lowest expectations of his entire career. Fitzgerald set career-lows in receptions, receiving yards, yards per catch and touchdowns in 2020. He also missed some games for the first time since 2014. The future Hall of Famer might get picked by someone in your league who recognizes his name, but there will almost certainly be a better receiver worth taking in every round.
Fitzgerald remains undecided on his status for the upcoming season, Jim Trotter of NFL.com reports. Since the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, it has been widely acknowledged by those in league circles that Fitzgerald was expected to retire, but with training camps about to open the itch to play may be coming back for the 17-year vet. According to Trotter, Fitzgerald relayed there's "no new news," and he's "still not under contract," but he has yet to make a call on his playing future. Trotter relayed the Cardinals "definitely would like to have him (Fitzgerald) back if he wants to play," and "there is a spot for him" if he makes such a decision. Assuming he returns, Fitzgerald would be in line for a much smaller role than in his first two seasons under coach Kliff Kingsbury, when he averaged 6.2 targets per game en route to a combined 129-1,213-5 line in 29 contests. Currently, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk and rookie second-rounder Rondale Moore occupy the top spots on Arizona's wide receiver depth chart.
Cardinals executives expect Fitzgerald to retire, Mike Sando of The Athletic reports. The 37-year-old wideout is an unrestricted free agent, following a 2020 campaign with career lows for catches (54), yards (409) and touchdowns (one). The Cardinals' signing of A.J. Green was one hint at Fitzgerald retiring, and while it hasn't actually happened yet, an announcement could be coming at some point this spring/summer. It's also possible Fitzgerald surveys the landscape for opportunities with a different team, though he'd be unlikely to find any assurance of regular playing time.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday that Fitzgerald (groin) may take "awhile" to make a decision about whether to return for an 18th season in 2021, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com reports Fitzgerald has taken his time on such a call in each of the previous four offseasons, informing the Cardinals that he was putting off retirement for another year between mid-January and mid-February. He may do the same this time around, but after a campaign in which he missed game action for the first time since 2014, he may be closer to hanging up the cleats than at any other point. Fitzgerald also managed career-worst marks across the board -- 54 catches, 409 yards and one touchdown on 72 targets -- while tying his career low with 13 appearances (he also did this in 2006). He currently sits No. 2 all time in receptions and receiving yards behind Jerry Rice, with the former in reach if Fitzgerald decides to play another two or three seasons (he's 117 behind Rice). Fitzgerald isn't under contract for 2021, so the Cardinals likely will give him all the time he needs regarding his future.
Fitzgerald (groin) is listed as inactive Sunday versus the Rams in L.A., Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site reports. After failing to practice this week due to a groin injury, Fitzgerald's availability for Week 17 came down to a game-time decision. The Cardinals opted to make him unavailable for this must-win contest, so they'll be down Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk (undisclosed) after the latter was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday. Behind top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, KeeSean Johnson, Andy Isabella and Trent Sherfield are on hand for reps at the position.
The Cardinals aren't optimistic that Fitzgerald (groin) -- who is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Rams -- will be able to play, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Schefter notes that with the Cardinals having placed fellow wideout Christian Kirk on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Fitzgerald "could try to surprise" and give it a go in the regular-season finale, but for now, the team is "not counting on having him available." Resolution on Fitzgerald's status one way or the other should arrive around 2:55 p.m. ET, when the Cardinals release their inactive list 90 minutes prior to kickoff. KeeSean Johnson and Andy Isabella could both end up filling starting roles at receiver along with top target DeAndre Hopkins if Fitzgerald ends up inactive.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||10/03||@Los Angeles Rams||1||16.67|
|5||10/10||San Francisco 49ers||15||21.50|
|8||10/28||Green Bay Packers||6||19.56|
|9||11/07||@San Francisco 49ers||15||21.50|
|14||12/13||Los Angeles Rams||1||16.67|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||98||66||649||4||35||9.83||88|