Reports are being published that Arizona Cardinals can't afford to keep Larry Fitzgerald for 2014. There's 1 such story from the 4 letter network at the top of this post. Larry's salary balloons next year and Arizona is interested in getting younger for obvious reasons. The 49ers on the other hand are in a win now period. The window isn't necessarily closing, but several key starters (Frank Gore, Jonathan Goodwin and Justin Smith) are in the twilight of their careers. Besides, when you are very close, one might argue that it's foolish to assume you'll stay that way for long. This hasn't been the driving philosophy of the front office and I'm not advocating for an uncharacteristically splashy move but I am intrigued by the opportunity to get a hall of fame player.
If you're reading this I don't have to explain why SF would be interested in Larry. Wide receiver is our weakest position and besides Quinton Patton I don't think anyone on the team is guaranteed a roster spot. We have 1 more year of Michael Crabtree but he will be looking for a big dollar contract and he's coming off a significant injury. Mario Manningham has restructured his deal but it remains to be seen if he will be an impact player post rehab. Anquan Boldin is a 1 year rental and has exceeded expectations. He's a candidate for an extension but he won't be cheap and he isn't getting younger. I would assume the rest of the wr's on the roster are expendable.
Fitzgerald, when healthy is better than anyone mentioned above. He's also more expensive. Any deal would necessitate offering him an extension where his 2014 cap number is reduced from the 18 million he's owed. Bringing him in could require moving Crabtree who likely still has some trade value although Arizona wouldn't necessarily be interested in an injury prone guy in the last year of his rookie deal. I suppose we could keep Crab through the remainder of his rookie deal but Boldin would definitely be gone. Manningham is relatively cheap at this point so it's possible he could stay. I don't think it would be smart to field a wr corp of Fitzgerald, Patton and draft picks/ our remaining problem players. Either Crabtree or Manningham could be retained for 2014 and I'd be concerned about Crabtree being a malcontent because the necessary commitment to Larry would preclude a deal for Michael.
So what would it take? I'm assuming at least 1 first round pick. It's possible, even likely that Arizona wouldn't deal him within the division although such trades aren't without precedence (McNabb springs to mind). Our 1st rounder is likely a late 1 so that might not be enough especially in a market where other teams might offer a higher 1st. Crabtree and our 1st? That would be a decent offer as it gives them a good veteran at the position they're losing and they're getting younger in the process. However, as I already mentioned they might balk at Crabtree's injury history.
I should reiterate I highly doubt Baalke makes this move. My question is should he?