The Arizona Cardinals are having a rather eventful offseason, the biggest move coming in the form of signing J.J. Watt to a three-year deal with big money attached. After coming within a hair's breadth of the playoffs last year, a push that was sabotaged by a Kyler Murray injury, the Cardinals are looking to reload rather than retool and head into the third year of the Kliff Kingsbury era with their eyes on the postseason.
They continued that push today by signing free agent wideout A.J. Green to a one-year deal worth up to $8 million. Green used to be very good, but has been severely limited by injuries over the last few years. He played only nine games in 2019 and was hampered by a hamstring injury for much of 2020. He's no longer the All-Pro he was, but he'll be a solid depth addition for Murray behind DeAndre Hopkins.
It also has people wondering about Larry Fitzgerald's future. Fitzgerald just finished up his 17th NFL season and will be 38-years-old when the 2021 season begins. He's still got something in the tank, catching 54 passes for 409 yards last season as a safety blanket for Murray. Does the Green signing mean Fitzgerald is on the way out? Mike Florio clearly thinks as much.
Ian Rapoport went to the man himself to get his reaction, but Fitzgerald is too busy snowboarding to worry about anything else.
I am here to respectfully disagree with Mike Florio and anyone else who believes this signifies the end of Fitzgerald's Cardinals tenure. I would agree that the fact that Arizona signed Green could mean Fitzgerald is probably not going to come back, the team knows that, and signed accordingly. But Fitzgerald's decision won't be affected by the Green news because he and Green can both exist on the roster next season without sacrificing much. It certainly does not mean that Fitzgerald will go somewhere else if he wants to play.
The Cardinals will happily have Larry Fitz on the roster next year if he wants to be. He's a franchise hero, beloved in the community, and has played a valuable role as a veteran mentor for a young team coming into its own. They aren't going to make him sign elsewhere just because they signed Green to a one-year deal. If Fitzgerald wants to play, they'll find a spot. And it's not like he would be getting charity snaps, either. He has the most reliable hands on the team outside of Hopkins. By no means is Fitzgerald a game-breaker anymore, but first downs are first downs regardless of age and the old veteran still knows how to move the chains.
Plus, the team would probably welcome the depth. Green's injury issues are well-known at this point, and other than him the depth chart consists of relatively unproven pieces. Andy Isabella has emerged as a consistent deep threat but that's obviously a far different skillset than what Fitzgerald can offer now. If it came down to it, I'd bet Murray would be more willing to throw to the 17-year veteran than KeeSean Johnson or Christian Kirk with the game on the line.
Fitzgerald might retire anyway because he is ancient by NFL standards and the game of football takes an immense physical toll. Snowboarding with his kids sounds more fun than preparing for training camp. But it won't be because the franchise quietly forced him out by signing Green, and there is a zero percent chance he goes somewhere else. He won't go ring-chasing with the Bucs. Fitzgerald is a Cardinal for life, and everyone knows it. Green's presence makes no difference in that matter.