When Larry Fitzgerald signed he seemed to signal that he planned on returning to the Cardinals for at least one more season. But it turns out, Fitzgerald is still undecided about the future of his NFL career.
On Thursday, the long-time receiver and future Hall of Famer indicated that he doesn't know if he'll retire or return in 2018.
"I'm going to take some time," Fitzgerald said, per the team's website. "Figure it out. I'll let you know, though."
This isn't the first time Fitzgerald has considered retiring. He didn'tFitzgerald will turn 35 in August and if he comes back in 2018, he'll be entering his 15th NFL season. He has missed only six games in his career. That's why it wouldn't be all too surprising to see him call it a career after the season.
Then again, it's not like Fitzgerald's skills have deteriorated to the point where he's no longer effective. This year, playing on a bad team lacking a starting-caliber quarterback for a significant portion of the season, he has caught 92 passes for 982 yards and five touchdowns. If he wants to come back, he'll be wanted by the Cardinals -- hence the one-year extension.
The Cardinals, though, aren't viewed as a contender. Carson Palmer's future is in doubt. So The Cardinals, who have been without star running back David Johnson all year, are 6-8 and they're stuck in a division with the suddenly dominant Rams, the historically dominant Seahawks and the up-and-coming 49ers. It's not like Fitzgerald would be coming back to a Super Bowl team. He would be returning to a team filled with question marks.
If Fitzgerald does return, he'll have a chance to further polish his Hall of Fame résumé. He's third all-time in receptions, behind only Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez. Catching Rice is impossible, but Fitzgerald is only 108 receptions away from tying Gonzalez in second place. In 2015 and '16, Fitzgerald averaged 108 catches. And remember, he still has two more games in 2017.
Fitzgerald is also third all-time in receiving yards, behind Rice and Terrell Owens. Again, catching Rice is impossible, but Owens is within reach. Fitzgerald needs 563 yards to pass T.O.
Finally, Fitzgerald is eighth all-time in touchdown catches. He's only two touchdowns behind Gonzalez and four behind Antonio Gates. Passing Marvin Harrison in fifth place by the end of next season is probably an unattainable goal (he's 19 touchdowns behind him), but reaching sixth place is entirely plausible.
Maybe Fitzgerald doesn't care about the leaderboards. Maybe he cares more about his chances to win a Super Bowl before he retires. Or maybe none of those things will play a role in his decision. Hopefully, for football's sake, he decides to return in 2018, because football is undoubtedly better with Fitzgerald in it.
"It's been a good ride," Fitzgerald said. "I've met a lot of great people and made a lot of wonderful memories. I wish we would've had some more wins. That first game at Sun Devil wasn't fun. I think it was against the Patriots. I remember [linebacker] Willie McGinest knocking me down on a crossing route and [safety] Rodney Harrison chasing me around, trying to hurt me. That wasn't a good day."