Since the end of the 2019 regular season, the focus around the Arizona Cardinals has shifted towards star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald‘s long-term future after completing his 16th year. There hadn’t been any clarity on what direction Fitzgerald was leaning in after putting forth another highly productive campaign in his sure-fire Hall of Fame career. That said, he has decided on what he plans to do for the 2020 season.
Larry Fitzgerald’s 2019 campaign
The Cardinals were heading into the 2019 campaign with a new quarterback under center with rookie Kyler Murray leading charge, which Fitzgerald picked up where he left off as he led the team with 75 receptions for 804 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
That saw him record at least four catches 12 times along with more than 50 receiving yards six times, including a pair of 100 receiving yard performances. He also moved past soon-to-be inducted Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez for second all-time in receptions, trailing only Jerry Rice.
Fitzgerald may not have put up the gaudy numbers, but he has still proven to be a highly reliable and productive player at this stage of his career. It speaks volumes about his work ethic and talent that has continued to show through despite being at the tail end of his career. That also begged the question about whether Fitzgerald would play for another year or step away from the game.
Larry Fitzgerald makes his decision
Following the close of the 2019 season, Fitzgerald voiced that he would take his time on deciding whether to play another year.
It didn’t take long as around two weeks later, Fitzgerald decided to give it a go for a 17th year to return on a one-year contract with the Cardinals on the same base salary of $11 million, according to Ian Rapoport of The NFL Network.
That shouldn’t come entirely as a surprise as his comments following the season finale loss to the Rams he voiced that was going to take to team owner Michael Bidwill to see if the team wanted him back. There was likely no second-guessing from ownership as Fitzgerald has engrained himself as arguably the greatest player in franchise history.
The 36-year-old clearly has enough tread on the tires to perform at a high level, which made it a more comfortable choice to play at least one more year. His return this early in the offseason allows the team to operate in the offseason with the security of possessing a highly reliable receiving target. Fitzgerald can now move forward to add to his Hall of Fame career.
What to expect from Larry Fitzgerald in 2020
The return of Fitzgerald gives the Cardinals’ offense a strong pillar to lean on as Murray continues his maturation as an NFL quarterback. He had demonstrated to have a strong rapport with the star wideout that will remain a fixture in the offensive game plan.
Fitzgerald has quite a way to go to challenge Rice’s all-time receiving yards record, but he can close that game further as he trails by 5,812 yards. Meanwhile, the more realistic mark for him to gather more steam on gaining on Rice will be career receptions as he’s behind 171 catches, which is a mark that he could potentially challenge if he were to play a couple more seasons.
He also has the chance to potentially move into fourth all-time in receiving touchdowns in 2020 as he currently sits in the sixth spot (120) behind Hall of Famers Marvin Harrison (128) and Cris Carter (130). Regardless of whether Fitzgerald can reach those individual marks, he would be just adding to his legacy as he has already cemented his status as one of the game’s greatest wide receivers.