Star player has made Arizona Cardinals great an afterthought
By Jim Koch
Future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald has forfeited his designation as the best wide receiver on the Arizona Cardinals roster
The Arizona Cardinals organization knew it would happen one day. No player of their’s, not even future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, can stay on top forever. The Cardinals great would eventually be replaced, and that is exactly what has happened one week into the current season.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new number-one wide receiver sitting at the top of the Cards depth chart. DeAndre Hopkins, the club’s highly-publicized offseason acquisition, solidified his status during a week-one victory over the San Francisco 49ers this past Sunday. The four-time Pro Bowler hauled in an eye-popping 14 of quarterback Kyler Murray‘s throws for 151 yards in his memorable Arizona debut.
Fitzgerald, on the other hand, tallied just four receptions for a paltry 34 yards. The 37-year old was targeted by Murray just five times, compared to the 16 passes that were thrown in the direction of Hopkins. Whether that discrepancy between the two star wideouts was by design or simply a coincidence is something only head coach and play-caller Kliff Kingsbury would know.
The Cardinals didn’t hesitate in the least when they decided to bring Fitzgerald back into the fold last January. Just last year, the 11-time Pro Bowler led the squad in catches (75) and receiving yards (804) in what was his 16th NFL campaign. Fitzgerald, of course, is far from the performer he was back in 2008, but the Cards obviously felt he could still contribute.
Despite that sentiment, one has to wonder if Arizona’s front office would’ve re-signed the aging veteran if they knew they’d be acquiring Hopkins two months later. Management shelled out $11 million for Fitzgerald, a nice chunk of change that could’ve been used to shore up another position or two. It’s unlikely that the former first-round draft pick will put up the type of numbers in 2020 that would justify his salary, but the Cardinals are paying Fitzgerald primarily for what he accomplished in the past.
Even so, having a class act like Fitzgerald in the locker room could never be a bad thing. The Cards young receivers, even a proven stud like Hopkins, can learn a ton from one of the greatest pass-catchers in league history. All good things must come to an end, however, so enjoy watching Fitzgerald while you still can.