Originally written on Pro Football Spot  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Larry Fitzgerald has been the face of the Arizona Cardinals for the last several seasons. He was a mega star with Kurt Warner, and became, at the time, the most explosive receiver in the league. In recent years, his numbers have dropped tremendously due to bad quarterback play, but the talent is still there. How valuable is he? Let's look at his value to the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald is the Cardinals offense. He is the guy that opponents plan against. He's a guy that even with mediocre quarterback play, can change a game with just one play (look at the 49ers game 2 weeks ago). He's perhaps the most valuable player on the team. Without him, their offense suffers significantly and become less of a force in the passing game. So yes, he's valuable to the team. Is he valuable on the trade market? Not as much as you would think. Although he's still relatively productive, Larry Fitzgerald is getting up there in age as he is 30 years old. However, he's still probably got at least 3-4 good more years in him before we start seeing a decline, so that won't hurt his value. What really hurts his value is his contract. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the highest paid players in the league, and commands an 18 million dollar cap hit in 2014, and a 21 million dollar cap hit in 2015. That's just absurd, and I would have to think if Calvin Johnson is even worth that money. As great as Larry is, he's not worth that kind of money and that hurts his value tremendously. With a cap hit like that, it means that only teams with a good amount of cap space could afford him. Not only does it cut the amount of interested teams into a small number, but those teams that are still interested would have to give up a lot for him. Fitzgerald would have to take a pay cut or renegotiate his contract to become a valuable player on the trade market, because most teams would not be interested in an 18 million dollar player. If he negotiates a lower contract, and gets his hit reduce by several million, then he becomes a hot commodity on the market. His contract hurts a lot, but what also hurts him is that names like Josh Gordon and Hakeem Nicks are floating around on the trade market. Both those guys, for example, are a few years young (Gordon is several years younger), and just as productive recently. Josh Gordon for example, is playing for a team that has mediocre quarterback play, and he is putting up ridiculous numbers. He commands a small rookie scale contract, he's young and very productive, which most teams would take against Larry Fitzgerald. Hakeem Nicks, who is less productive, but younger and much cheaper would probably be the better option over Larry Fitzgerald. So not only is Larry Fitzgerald's value going down because of his contract, but it's also going down because of the "competition (other players)" on the market. As mentioned earlier though, if you want a productive guy that is a game changer, and HAS PROVEN to be a game changer for years, Larry Fitzgerald is your guy over most receivers in the league. You saw what he did with Kurt Warner and that was only a few years ago. He probably still has that in him. Unfortunately, you won't see much of it if Carson Palmer continues to throw to him. Also, if you think about the impact trading Larry Fitzgerald would have off the field, it would disastrous. Fitzgerald is a big fan favourite and it's been like that for years. You'll probably get a lot of angry fans and angry fans are not good for business. You want to keep the fans happy too, and keeping Larry does that. So to recap, Larry Fitzgerald is still a very talented player, but because of his gigantic contract (cap hit) and the other receivers that are floating around on the trade market, Larry Fitzgerald is not a very valuable receiver and teams would have to give up a bit to get him and intake that huge contract. It's in the best interest for every team in the league to not touch Larry Fitzgerald, and if the Cardinals want to have any sort of passing game, they should keep Larry. If they want to keep their fan base happy too, they should keep Larry Fitzgerald. Every side benefits from no Larry Fitzgerald trade.
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