Ever since Steve Keim and Bruce Arians took over as general manager and head coach respectively for the Arizona Cardinals, they have made roster cuts to a number of fan favorites ranging from Andrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes to most recently Ryan Williams. These moves have been largely unpopular amongst the Cardinal faithful-unfortunately 2015 may not be any easier for Cards fans.
In 2015 Larry Fitzgerald will command a staggering $23.6 million in salary cap space. In February, Steve Keim acknowledged in a sit down with ProFootball Talk that this situation will need to be addressed this next offseason. Fitzgerald, on his end, is reportedly unwilling to take a pay cut and it is highly unlikely that the Cardinals would find a willing trade partner given Fitzgerald’s salary cap hit. If Arizona releases Fitzgerald next offseason, they would be stuck with $14.4 million in dead cap space, which would save the Cardinals $9.2 million in cap space.
That begs the question, should and will the Cardinals release Fitzgerald following this next season?
I have to think that, unless Larry Fitzgerald changes his mind and is willing to take a pay cut and sign a new contract, this will be his last season in Arizona. This will not be an easy pill to swallow for Cards fans as many, myself included, have been wanting to see Fitzgerald retire a Cardinal. Losing a player that for a long time has been the face of the franchise would be a disappointing sight to see to say the least.
That said, however, if Fitzgerald refuses to take a pay cut I believe it would be time for the organization to part ways with him. For an organization looking for their first Lombardi trophy while playing in the toughest division in sports, having an aging star with that kind of salary cap hit will become a real hindrance when it comes to attempting to add new talent to the roster.
There are two scenarios in which I could see Fitzgerald taking a pay cut. One is that the Cardinals make an extended playoff run this season but fall just a hair short of winning a Super Bowl. Fitzgerald at this point in his career has made winning a ring his number one priority. If he feels like he’s on the verge of this, he might just be willing to entertain a pay cut.
The other scenario is that the Cardinals, while unwilling to pay the contract amount, might still be willing to pay more than any other NFL team and trust me, there may very well be a difference. Larry Fitzgerald’s camp will likely have an idea of what kind of salary he would command in the open market, as would the Cardinals front office. It might turn out that Fitzgerald taking a pay cut to stay in Arizona remains his best option financially.
Unfortunately though the NFL is still a business and the Arizona Cardinals one way or the other avoiding the $23.6 million salary cap is ultimately what will be best for business. What do you think? Would you take the cap hit next offseason to keep Fitz?