As a cherry atop his Hall of Fame career, Fitzgerald has developed into a great escape hatch for quarterbacks in the Cardinals’ offense as a slot receiver.
In his prime, Fitzgerald was the most feared receiver in the league, with a rare combination of quickness, downfield speed, toughness and intelligence. He enjoyed a renaissance season in 2015 with 109 catches for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns, in part because over the last few seasons he has developed into a great escape hatch for quarterbacks in the Cardinals’ offense as a slot receiver. Last season, he caught 52 of 64 targets from the slot for 606 yards and three touchdowns. When coach Bruce Arians calls vertical routes to one side and timing routes to the other—a common construct for the Cardinals—Fitzgerald will often be asked to run a slant or drag route over the middle to give his quarterback yet another option. His 75-yard catch and run in overtime against the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs, perhaps the greatest play of his career, came after he motioned from outside to the slot, ran a crossing route and slipped past three Green Bay defenders on the run. It is this versatility and determination that has allowed Fitzgerald to excel in the slot just as he always has outside.