Cardinals GM Steve Keim admitted that it would be tough to see WR Larry Fitzgerald wearing another other uniform next season.
“It would be awfully tough for me to see Larry Fitzgerald wearing another uniform,” Keim said Friday on KMVP-FM. “I don’t want to negotiate through the media. I have a lot of respect for not only the player — tremendous amount of respect for Larry Fitzgerald — but have a great relationship with (Fitzgerald’s agent) Eugene Parker, who I’ve worked with on a number of players.”
According to Keim, the two sides have been in constant communication about Fitzgerald’s contract situation.
“The communication has been constant and hopefully we have a resolution that both parties are happy with,” Keim added. “I think the biggest thing is, in any negotiation, you’ve got to find a balance where both parties feel like we have a good situation. And again, we’re working tirelessly — that’s my number one objective right now, it’s our number one objective as an organization, and we’ve said it all along and it hasn’t changed.Larry Fitzgerald, we want him to retire a Cardinal.”
According to Rapoport, the issue for the Cardinals isn’t Fitzgerald’s base salary, but his $23 million cap figure for the 2015 season.
Keeping Fitzgerald at that price would have a major impact on their ability to target upgrades in free agency.
Rapoport mentions that even though the Cardinals would free up $9.2 million in salary cap space if they were to release Fitzgerald, it’s not going to happen.
However, Rapoport doesn’t rule out the possibility that Arizona could look to trade him at some point, depending on how things go with the renegotiation.
It looks like Fitzgerald will need to accept a pay cut to some degree, which could come in the form of a one-year cut or an extension.
The last note from Rapoport is that a deadline for the two parties is likely to be March 14, when Fitzgerald is due an $8 million roster bonus.
On Wednesday, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill mentioned that restructuring Fitzgerald’s contract will be their “first order of business” this offseason.
“I think, immediately, we’ve got to address Larry Fitzgerald‘s contract,” Bidwill in an interview with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN. “We’ve talked about that. We’ve been working hard on trying to make sure that he’s got a contract that compensates him appropriately. … But it takes two to come to an agreement. So I think that’s the first order of business.”
Bidwill added that reworking Fitzgerald’s deal is important for their plans in free agency.
“Free agency is going to be big for us,” Bidwill said. “We’ve got to get the contract restructured with Fitz, because look at what we did last year in free agency — with one significant signing, took care of that left tackle with Jared Veldheer, who did a tremendous job. That’s the kind of impact we want to have this year in free agency.”
Fitzgerald, 31, is in the fourth year of his eight-year, $128.5 million contract that included $50 million guaranteed. After reworking his contract, Fitzgerald received an $11.75 million signing bonus and has a base salary of $1 million for the 2014 season.
Fitzgerald finished the regular season with 63 catches for 784 yards and two touchdowns over the course of 14 games. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 31 receiver out of 110 qualifying players.
We’ll have more regarding the Cardinals and Fitzgerald as the news is available.