On Sunday, ESPN.com reported and Arizona Republic writer Kent Somers confirmed that the Arizona Cardinals have begun talks with Larry Fitzgerald's agent for a contract extension. Fitzgerald's contract expires after the 2011 season and stipulates that the team cannot use any of the league's special "tags" to prevent him from leaving.
Any deal that happens would likely make him the highest paid receiver in the NFL, much like his last contract extension made him. Money is a factor, as it is with all players and teams, but it will not be just about money this time around, as he will be able to get that money from probably any other team in the league.
This time around, it will also require that the Cardinals show that they are moving in a direction that Fitz agrees with. He cares deeply about winning and now, after having tasted it for a couple of years, wants to do nothing more than get back to the Super Bowl.
Arizona will have to show that they are committed to playing a quarterback that can lead the team to the playoffs and that will put Fitzgerald in a position to contribute and be an important part of the team.
Fitzgerald is close to Ken Whisenhunt and he has already stated that he wishes to stay in Arizona, so the Cardinals already have these things in their favor, but he has watched former teammate Anquan Boldin have great team success again while in Baltimore and you have wonder if he is thinking that his best shot back to the Super Bowl is with another team.
Truthfully, the Cardinals have no other play than to make the call to get him in talks. He is the team's lone superstar. After having seen Kurt Warner, Boldin, Amare Stoudemire, and Mark Reynolds (as a lesser example) all leave the local teams, Phoenix fans are starving for stars and tired of seeing them all walk away or get dealt. At the same time, no one wants to see Fitz languish on a terrible team like we saw him do this year or how we are seeing Grant Hill and Steve Nash do on the Suns.
The downside to this, at least to a small level, is that the team has another receiver in Steve Breaston who will be a free agent now and has yet to hear anything from the front office about a new contract. He is a very good player, hard working, wants to be here and will not likely break the bank.
But in reality, with all of the tough and necessary decisions that the Cardinals need to make this offseason, getting Fitzgerald taken care of is most clearly what should get done first. The Cardinals are doing that and that should be at least encouraging for fans.