Three years ago, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald had the franchise over a contractual barrel. Eventually, the Cards folded, giving Fitzgerald a four-year, $40 million contract with an eight-figure annual average that no other receiver has met or surpassed since.
Now, as Fitzgerald prepares to enter the final year of the deal, which includes a provision preventing the team from using the franchise or transition tag to keep him in Arizona for 2012 (or to trade him for value after the season), the Cards are soliciting his advice when it comes to a acquiring their next quarterback, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Schefter reports that Fitzgerald’s top choice is Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb. Another name Fitzgerald reportedly has mentioned is Ravens backup Marc Bulger, who was cut by the Rams in the 2010 offseason after the Cardinals had signed Derek Anderson.
Not mentioned on Schefter’s list is Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb. Or, for that matter, any of the guys currently on the roster: Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton.
If the Cardinals hope to keep Fitzgerald, it makes some sense to include him in the process of picking the next quarterback. From a big-picture perspective, however, it gives Fitzgerald lots of power — more power than any player arguably should have. Not only will the next quarterback feel indebted to Fitzgerald (and thus more likely to force the ball to him even when Fitzgerald isn’t the best option) but the guy who gets the job will fear that alienating Fitzgerald could get him fired.
And where does Fitz’s new juice end? Will Fitzgerald’s next move entail insisting on a new head coach after the 2011 season, if things don’t go well next year?
It could make more sense for Arizona to try to get a Herschel Walker-style package of picks and players, and to continue to trust coach Ken Whisenhunt to build a Steelers-style roster that doesn’t cater to any one player, on offense or defense.