Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer both expressed their desire that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald return to the team next season in comments to the Cardinals' official website.
Fitzgerald's status for 2015 is unclear due to his financial status. The veteran is set to have a cap number of $23.5 million next season and is due an $8 million roster bonus in early March, figures which may render Fitzgerald's return to the Cardinals untenable.
“[Fitzgerald]’s right where he’s always been,” Arians said, according to AZCardinals.com. “I don’t control money and caps and all that crap. I just coach the heck out of him and he’s a great kid. I look forward to having him next year.”
“Everybody in this locker room wants Larry back, the fans want Larry back, but there are some business things that I am sure will happen and need to happen,” Palmer said. “We’ll hope he’s back.”
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has also expressed interest in Fitzgerald returning to the team but hasn't outright committed to it, saying the "intent" is for Fitzgerald to remain with Arizona and that his cap number is "baked in" to the team's 2015 budget.
Somewhat conflicting reports regarding Fitzgerald's status have emerged in recent weeks. Keim said in December the team wouldn't cut Fitzgerald, but it was reported the team could either renegotiate the receiver's deal, extend his contract or trade him. Last week it was reported that Fitzgerald himself didn't expect to return in 2015.
Fitzgerald, 31, was the No. 3 pick by the Cardinals in the 2004 NFL draft and has been with the team since, recording six 1,000-yard seasons and making eight Pro Bowls despite Arizona's quarterback problems through much of his tenure with the team. He's the franchise's all-time leading receiver with 909 career receptions and 12,151 receiving yards.
Fitzgerald hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2011 and this year saw his streak of consecutive starts end at 110 due to a knee injury. But Fitzgerald remained productive, recording 63 receptions for 784 yards in 13 games.
The Cardinals went 11-5 this season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. They were eliminated in the wild-card round, losing to the Carolina Panthers 27-16 on Saturday.
- Ben Estes