Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald 11 before a

first_imgArizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald (11) before an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. The Panthers won 27-16. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) After five straight 1,000-yard seasons, Fitzgerald has not had more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season in any season since signing his new contract extension.Last season, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound wide receiver had 63 catches for 784 receiving yards, both are which were the lowest totals since his rookie season in 2004. His two touchdown catches were a career-low.Fitzgerald, 31, is the Cardinals’ all-time leader in receptions with 909 catches for 12,151 yards and 89 touchdowns in 11 seasons.Fitzgerald is joined on the list by a NFC West opponent in St. Louis Rams tight end Jared Cook. Other notables on the list are Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown, Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray and Chicago Bears linebacker Jared Allen. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact There is very little doubt that Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most decorated players in franchise history.But is he overpaid?Grantland.com writer Bill Barnwell included Fitzgerald on the “NFL’s All-Bad Contracts Team,” saying that his 2011 contract extension may have more harm to the franchise than good.Contract Flaw: Ever Fallen in Love With a Player You Shouldn’t Have?That’s really not fair. The Cardinals should have been in love with Fitzgerald, because he was an incredible receiver for a long time. The problem is that former Cardinals general manager Rod Graves gave Fitzgerald a mammoth eight-year contract extension that any receiver would have struggled to justify, with a cap hit of $20.5 million in 2012. It didn’t help that Fitzgerald’s numbers took a dramatic downturn that year, as a combination of poor quarterbacks and slowing wheels has kept Fitzgerald under 60 yards per game during each of the past three seasons.New general manager Steve Keim was forced to restructure Fitzgerald’s deal last season to clear out cap space, and with an untenable $23.6 million hit looming for his deal in 2015, the Cardinals ripped up Fitzgerald’s deal again to keep him on the roster. That new contract is hardly a bargain: Fitzgerald’s cap numbers ($10.9 million in 2015 and $15.9 million in 2016) will leave him among the league’s four highest-paid receivers over the next two years. The punishment for the deal really arrives in 2017, though. Fitzgerald’s deal automatically voids after the 2016 season, and the Cardinals will be left with a $9.7 million dead-money charge on their cap for a player who won’t be on their roster. In terms of cap hit, Ndamukong Suh will actually cost more to not play for Detroit ($9.7 million) this season than he will to play for Miami ($6.1 million). That is likely to be the case with Fitzgerald in 2017.Fitzgerald agreed to a seven-year, $113 million contract with $27 million guaranteed following the 2011 season. He has since restructured his deal this offseason to a two-year, $22 million deal that is fully guaranteed. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Top Stories Comments   Share   Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and sellinglast_img read more