Fitzgerald just restructured his deal so that the Cardinals had more cap space to work with this offseason. However, this move has only added to Fitzgerald’s future cap figures and resulted in a staggering cap hit of $23.659 million for the 2015 season. Fitzgerald will also have an $8 million roster bonus coming his way as well.
“If he can still prove that he’s a premier wide receiver at 31 years old, the Cardinals will find a way to accommodate that type of hit,” Weinfuss writes. “If not, the same kind of speculation that flurried about in 2013 will start again, but most likely in avalanche form. And it probably won’t end with another restructuring. With the improvements they made in 2013, the Cardinals won’t want to be handcuffed by that large of a cap hit, which would prohibit them from improving even more in 2015.”
According to Overthecap.com, the Cardinals could free up $16.25 million next season if they were to release Fitzgerald, so this could be first time they have any amount of leverage in negotiations with their star receiver.
Brian McIntyre mentioned last night that Fitzgerald has made $57.25 million over last 30 months with the Cardinals, which helps to illustrate just how little leverage they’ve had in contract talks with Fitzgerald.
In the past two years, Fitzgerald has seen his production dip a bit. Over this span of time, he’s averaging 77 receptions for 876 yards receiving and two touchdowns. While that’s pretty decent for a No. 2 receiver, it’s hardly the type of production you’re hoping to see from someone making quarterbacks money.
Of course, the Cardinals quarterback situation has drastically impacted these figures, so with that in mind, Fitzgerald deserves the benefit of doubt.