The revised contract given by the Cardinals to receiver Larry Fitzgerald contains a no-trade clause. Which means Fitzgerald won’t be traded. Unless he’s willing to be.
In announcing the new deal at the Scouting Combine, the Cardinals were unequivocal in their position that Fitzgerald will spend the next two seasons with the team. After that, who knows?
Who knows? may come sooner than that, because a fair interpretation of Peter King’s report regarding the team’s unwillingness to absorb Adrian Peterson’s current contract could be that they’d do it if they could escape Fitzgerald’s deal.
The unnamed source who told Peter King of TheMMQB.com that the Cardinals wouldn’t take on Peterson’s three years and $45 million specifically mentioned Fitzgerald’s contract. And there’s a chance that wasn’t an accident.
Despite creating $13 million in cap space by re-doing Fitzgerald’s deal, the Cardinals will pay him $11 million per year in 2015 and 2016. With Fitzgerald possibly the No. 3 receiver in Arizona at best this year, that’s still way too much.
For years, there’s been speculation that Fitzgerald would like to end his career in his home state of Minnesota, returning to the franchise for which he once served as a ball boy. Last season, speculation swirled that a straight up trade of Peterson for Fitzgerald could happen. Maybe it still could.
The cap charge to the Cardinals could make that move impossible before June 1. Regardless, they’d be avoiding $22 million in further payments to Fitzgerald and in turn directing that money to a player who, dollar for dollar, could have a much greater impact on the team’s fortunes in 2015.
From Minnesota’s perspective, adding Fitzgerald wouldn’t make much football sense, given the recent trade for high-priced wideout Mike Wallace. But with Wallace stretching the field, Fitzgerald could do plenty of damage running underneath routes, especially if quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can improve on what was a promising rookie season.
Whatever the message, the unnamed source was sending one via the quote to King. Maybe the message was an obvious one aimed at Peterson. Maybe it was a subtle one aimed at Fitzgerald and the Vikings. Possibly, it was both.
Either way, the Peterson situation remains awkwardly unresolved. As free agency dies down and the draft approaches, his future will generate more and more attentions and questions. Given the events of the past week in the NFL, no specific outcome to the Peterson situation should surprise anyone.