Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is Larry Fitzgerald worth the salary of a QB?

Sitting here watching the NFL Network's replay of this past weekend's NFC Championship game and the show Larry Fitzgerald put on. Admittedly, when he came out of Pitt, I wasn't certain that he'd be the playmaker in the NFL that he was in college, but that's why I crunch numbers and don't evaluate talent.

In my opinion, Fitzgerald had his coming out party on Sunday. Which is more so a statement about the dismal location of the Arizona Cardinals on the NFL landscape, than it is on Larry Fitzgerald. The kid has been ridiculously productive over the course of his young career. Since coming into the league in 2004, only Reggie Wayne (6230 rec yrds) & Chad Johnson (6055 rec yrds) have more receiving yards than Fitz's 5975 rec yrds. Only Randy Moss & Terrell Owens (both with 58 rec TDs) have scored more receiving TDs than Fitz's 46. So clearly the kid is an elite receiver in elite company from a productivity standpoint.

So when Fitz received a contract extension this past off-season that guaranteed him $32.1M, a guarantee amount normally only reserved for QBs and #1 overall draft picks; many simply attributed that amount to a poorly structured rookie contract. His rookie contract was indeed structured poorly, positioning the Cardinals to be on the hook for $31,947,500 over the final 2 years of the deal (2008 & 2009). Surely, the Cardinals weren't going release Fitzgerald to avoid this obligation; instead, they extended his contract by 2 years (his new contract runs from 2008-2011). As previously mentioned they guaranteed Fitz $32.1M via $15M signing bonus, $5M option bonus, $10M in year 2 and year 3 salary guarantees for injury, and his year 1 (2008) salary of $2.1M. The deal only (only??) provided Fitz with $8,052,500 in new money; meaning in exchange for suring up their stud receiver for 2 new contract years (2010 & 2011), the Cardinals only coughed up a little over $8M (thus an extension average of a little over $4M/yr, but an overall package average of $10M/yr, $31,947,500 old money + $8,052,500 new money = $40M divided by 4 years).

So is Fitzgerald worthy of QB-like compensation? Based upon Sunday and the productivity of his young career, I'd say so. Speaking of "young," Fitz will be 28 when his current contract expires, so he'll be in line for yet another big payday, while still being in the prime of his career, and his new contract prohibits the Cardinals from franchising him, thereby assuring he'll hit the open market unless the Cardinals extend him again. Must be nice......


  1. mann that catch alone in the redzone when they sealed it up... its like the whole team calmed down around him. i agree with u, great info never knew his stats were that consistent

  2. Absolutely he is worth every penny of it. Now can you do the cap on my Ravens next?? We need a WR, re-sign Ray and Suggs and Brown, not to mention a CB