Weeks ago, new Arizona Cardinals wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson told reporters that he did not want to "bother" future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald as he contemplates either calling time on his playing career or running it back for one more year with the only NFL home he's known since the 2004 draft.
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim indicated on Wednesday that he'll also give the 37-year-old all the time he needs to make his decision.
Per NFL Network's Omar Ruiz (h/t Nick Shook), Keim said that March 17 and the start of the new league year is not considered as a hard deadline for whether or not Fitzgerald will ultimately be on Arizona's active roster in September:
#AZCardinals GM Steve Keim said "not necessarily" when asked if Larry Fitzgerald has to give an answer about his future by March 17/start of free agency. Keim said he has no news to report on Fitz's decision.— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) March 3, 2021
"Knowing him, he's just trying to make me sweat," Keim joked.
Fitzgerald's numbers from the 2020 season — 54 receptions for 409 yards and a single touchdown — don't leap off a page, but they also don't speak to what the greatest player in franchise history can offer behind the scenes and inside of the locker room. The Cardinals delivered quite a message of intent when they signed three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt earlier this week, and a contender in need a proven big-game pass-catcher with a quarterback who is friendly with Fitzgerald (i.e. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) would likely happily sign "Larry Legend" to an affordable deal if he becomes available.
Fitzgerald has said in previous interviews that he doesn't ever want to play for a different franchise. Could seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady change his mind about that if it's the Cardinals that end this historic relationship?