Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim met the media here at the NFL Combine Wednesday with some big news to share — the team has indeed reached an agreement with receiver Larry Fitzgerald to restructure his contract and keep him in town.
Keim confirmed that it’s “essentially a two-year deal” that will reportedly give the team $11 million extra in salary cap space for 2015.
There had been a lot of talk about Fitzgerald’s contract, which as previously structured would have carried a $23.6 million salary cap hit for 2015, and whether the team might look to release him. That, in turn, had led to talk that the Seahawks might be a natural fit for the veteran receiver, who is still in search of a Super Bowl ring.
But that won’t happen now. And Keim made it sound as if there was never any real debate. Keim said the team had been in talks for a while with Fitzgerald, and that “we knew all along Larry wanted to stay a Cardinal.” He said it was merely a matter of getting a deal done and that “once we decided to put the foot on the gas pedal last week we were able to get the deal done.”
That had Keim touting Arizona’s receiving corps as again a strength in 2015 with Fitzgerald again slated to team with Michael Floyd and 2014 rookie sensation John Brown.
Those three leading a big-play offense combined with a salty defense to give Arizona a 9-1 record before a fateful game at Seattle on Nov. 23 that turned around the seasons for both teams. Seattle’s 19-3 victory started the Seahawks on a six-game winning streak to end the season while the Cardinals went just 2-4 the rest of the way.
Keim noted the myriad of key Arizona injuries as the season wore on — notably to quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton — and said “we just finished the season with no bullets left in the gun.’
Keim said Palmer is ahead of schedule on his recovery from an ACL tear and could be back for Organized Training Activities in the spring.
Arizona also has a decision to make with defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who is 33 and missed last sea on with an ACL injury and has a $9.8 million salary cap hit in 2015.
“We’d love to have Darnell back,” Keim said, adding the team will have conversations with him soon about redoing his deal. “We really missed him this year. He was the heart and soul of our defense.”