Fitz's New Deal Opens Up Offseason Options

WR Larry Fitzgerald (Donald Miralle/Getty)

The Cardinals wanted to complete a restructuring of receiver Larry Fitzgerald's contract by mid-February, not mid-March. But even though it was a month late, the resolution of the Fitzgerald situation takes a large amount of pressure off this offseason.

The restructured contract, worth $40 million over four years, lowered Larry Fitzgerald's cap figure almost $9 million: from $16.4 million to about $7.8 million. That was the team's major goal in the restructuring, because Fitzgerald's huge cap number prevented them from doing much this offseason.

Before the deal was struck, the club had less than $400,000 of available cap room. The Cardinals hoped to reach an agreement earlier so they could take a run at a big free agent or two, such as former Steelers guard Alan Faneca, or maybe to re-sign a key player, such as Calvin Pace.

It turned out, however, that both those players received deals far out of the Cardinals' price range, even if they had reached a new agreement with Fitzgerald. So in the end, the delay cost the team little.

Fitzgerald and his agent, Eugene Parker, had nearly all the leverage in negotiations, and they got most everything they wanted. Parker insisted throughout on a four-year deal, while the team wanted six. Fitzgerald reportedly will receive $30 million in guarantees, and he'll receive nearly half of the contract's worth, $17 million, in the first year of the deal.

Fitzgerald's contract also contains a unique no-trade clause. Parker apparently was worried that the Cardinals might sign and trade his client to a place Fitzgerald didn't want to go. The Cardinals had no intention of doing that, so they agreed to a clause that gives Fitzgerald the right to approve any trade.

With additional cap space, the Cardinals will remain cautious in free agency. Their first priority is re-signing some veterans who are key backups. They had put the contracts of those players, such as long snapper Nathan Hodel and safety Matt Ware, on hold because they couldn't fit them under the cap until Fitzgerald re-signed. Hodel has agreed to a four-year deal.

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