MVP: Larry Fitzgerald Has Highest WAR among Non-QBs
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is entering his 17th season in the NFL and seemingly has not skipped a beat. That type of durability over the course of a career in football is respectable on its own, but throw in the sheer statistical dominance Fitzgerald has generated while in Arizona and it is even more impressive.
A career that began in 2004 has seen Fitzgerald accumulate 17,083 receiving yards (second all-time) on 1,378 catches and 120 touchdowns (sixth all-time). Even more mind-boggling is that on 2,263 targets, the veteran wideout has only dropped 29 passes. He has more career tackles (39) than drops.
Fitzgerald has been widely available throughout his career as well. He has played in 250 career games and made 248 starts since his rookie debut. In total, he has missed six games: three in 2006; one in 2007; two in 2014.
All of this has made Fitzgerald the most valuable non-quarterback in NFL history since 2006, according to Pro Football Focus and its wins-above-replacement (WAR) metric. The top four is rounded out fully by wide receivers: free agent Antonio Brown (second); Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons (third); former Detroit Lion Calvin Johnson (fourth).
In beginning with a 2006 cutoff instead of a year earlier, PFF left out one of Fitzgerald's 1,400-plus receiving yard seasons. Despite this, the given time frame included eight years of Fitzgerald accumulating 1,000 yards or more and four with double-digit touchdowns, the most of which was 13 in 2009.
Fitzgerald was also named to 10 Pro Bowls during that window and was a first-team All-Pro once, in 2008.
His sure-handedness has been an asset to the different quarterbacks Fitzgerald has played with throughout his Cardinals tenure, none more so than incoming second-year gunslinger and reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray. With the addition of DeAndre Hopkins and the return of Christian Kirk to full health, Murray has a stable of weapons at his disposal this season.
It does not hurt that two of them — Hopkins and Fitzgerald — were once again named to the NFL Top 100 list as voted on by players across the league. In fact, since the birth of NFL Network's brainchild in 2010, Fitzgerald has been on the list every single year, coming in at No. 69 in the 2020 version. Hopkins was No. 8.
Fitzgerald is one of just four players to be named to every Top 100 list and the only non-quarterback. Seems eerily similar to his standing as PFF's most valuable player.