The Arizona Cardinals will be hanging on to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for another season, it looks like. One of the biggest question marks this offseason has been whether or not the Cardinals can restructure Fitzgerald's contract in such a way so the team wouldn't have to release him, letting him hit the open market for the first time in his career. On Wednesday, general manager Steve Keim said that a deal was done.
Fitzgerald will return to Arizona on what Keim said is "essentially a two-year deal." Reports following Keim's announcement say that Fitzgerald gets $11 million per year for the next two years, and that the way the deal is structured creates "almost $13 million in cap space." That's massive, considering Fitzgerald was set to count over $20 million against the cap.
While the Cardinals are adamant that they were always positive they could get a deal done for Fitzgerald, it was definitely one of the more concerning storylines of the season. For the San Francisco 49ers, it means a familiar foe will be facing them two times next season, and it means the Cardinals are just a little bit better, even if Fitzgerald is still making more than his 2014 stats suggest he should be.
But I thought it was also interesting given San Francisco's own situation with running back Frank Gore. It's not an exact parallel, given that Gore is set to hit the open market as a free agent, and Fitzgerald was simply too expensive for the Cardinals to keep at his current deal. But Fitzgerald means about as much to that franchise as Gore has meant to the 49ers, believe it or not.
The thought of seeing Fitzgerald in a jersey other than Arizona's was definitely a weird one, and I know there are many who feel the same way about Gore. Just imaging Gore suiting up for, say, the Indianapolis Colts, seems weird and upsetting. But I was pretty convinced that there was little chance of Fitzgerald and Arizona sorting out their differences in time, personally. I suppose there's room for some optimism with Gore, no?