Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald: 'If I’m not playing in Arizona, I won’t be playing anywhere'

The only thing missing from Larry Fitzgerald's Hall-of-Fame resume is a championship, but he won't consider terminating his run with the Cardinals to chase a ring elsewhere. Fitzgerald, who is entering his 15th season with the Cardinals, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Monday that it's either Arizona or retirement for him.

"If I'm not playing in Arizona, I won't be playing anywhere," he said. "I've built a good life for myself down there. Playing in the same place for 15 years is a true blessing."

And so, that likely ends the idea of the Cardinals shipping Fitzgerald, 34, to a Super Bowl contender before the trade deadline when they might be out of the playoff picture. It also ends the idea that Fitzgerald would leave in free agency following the season. 

Fitzgerald started his run with the Cardinals in 2004, when they used the third-overall pick on him. He's proceeded to tally the third-most receptions (1,234), the third-most receiving yards (15,545), and the eighth-most touchdown catches (110) in NFL history. He's also produced in the biggest of moments. There was his go-ahead 64-yard touchdown against the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. And then there was the time he racked up 80 yards on two plays to send the Cardinals to the NFC title game in January 2016. It wasn't enough to secure a championship, though. The Steelers responded with a last-second touchdown to win the Super Bowl and the Cardinals got dropped by the Panthers in the NFC Championship Game.

The Cardinals have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and now find themselves in a bit of a period of transition. Coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer retired this offseason. Now, the Cardinals are rebuilding on the fly with Sam Bradford as their bridge quarterback and Josh Rosen as their quarterback of the future.

The thing is, while the Cardinals almost definitely aren't viewed as a contender, they're probably not going to be as bad as many assume. For all of their shortcomings and injuries a year ago, the Cardinals still managed to win eight games. The stacked-beyond-belief Rams will almost assuredly win the NFC West if they avoid catastrophic injuries, but second place is wide open. The Seahawks are also rebuilding resetting while the 49ers are trying to prove that what they did at the end of the 2017 season with Jimmy Garoppolo is sustainable.

If David Johnson, Sam Bradford, Chandler Jones, and Patrick Peterson all stay healthy, this team could make a run at the second wild card and perhaps give Fitzgerald his chance to ride off into the sunset. That's their best-case scenario. But in all likelihood, Bradford won't be able to stay healthy, because he's never been able to do so. And if he goes down, Rosen will step in and suddenly the season will become more about building for the future and less about making a run at a playoff spot. At that point, it'll be worth wondering if Fitzgerald will want to return for another season in 2019 with Rosen entering his second year. 

It's not like Fitzgerald is slowing down significantly. He's coming off yet another 1,000-yard season. But he's contemplated retirement in recent offseasons. So, it wouldn't be surprising if he walked away after the season.

"It doesn't really matter about the age, it's about what you put into it and your mindset," he said. "Everybody kind of takes numbers and assumes this is when it's supposed to end. As an athlete, fortunately, you write your own script. If you still produce and you play at a high level, you kind of determine how long you want to play. If I can stay at a high level, I still keep destiny in my own hands."

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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