Arizona Cardinals: Age becoming a factor with some


With the talk of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning possibly retiring after Super Bowl 50, the Arizona Cardinals have some players nearing retirement as well

There was a piece on Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald done today by discussing next season possibly being his last.  Of course with the sudden retirement of Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and the likely retirement of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning after Super Bowl 50, now we have to look at the Cardinals aging stars.

It is a fair question but a proposition the Cardinals certainly know all about.  Fitzgerald signed a two-year contract extension after the 2014 season.  He could be around a third season.  In 2016 Fitz will turn 33 just before the start of the season, which will be his 13th in the NFL.  We’ve seen other receivers play 14-15 years, so we will likely see Fitz call it a career probably after two more seasons is my best guess.

The only way that Fitz hangs it up after the 2016 season is if he wins it all.  Then I think he gives it serious thought.  However I can’t see him leaving the game before he turns 34.  He still has great hands and though he’s lost a step or two, he still has speed.  We saw that in the playoff game against the Green Bay Packers.

Then there is quarterback Carson Palmer.  He turned 36 at the end of the 2015 season, so he won’t be 37 until the end of the 2016 season.  He’s under contract for 2016 and 2017.  Remember, it was a three-year extension he signed in 2014.  I think Palmer gets two more years in Arizona as long as he stays healthy.

Other guys getting up there are linebacker Dwight Freeney.  He is 35 but his status for 2016 is currently unknown.  Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker is 32 and will enter his 11th season in 2016.  The oldest player on the team in 2015, Mike Leech, retired at age 39 last week after a 16-year career.

Linebacker Jason Babin is 35 and just finished his 12th season but I’m not sure he will be around as a Cardinal in 2016. Center Lyle Sendlein is 31 and just finished his ninth season.  Centers take a beating on that offensive line, so his remaining NFL shelf-life is short.

The Cardinals are smart enough to address all this though.  They still have a great core of young players they can build around.