His rookie deal signed in Aug 2004 was a sixyea

first_imgHis rookie deal, signed in Aug. 2004 was a six-year contract that could have been worth up to $60 million, with a little more than $20 million in guaranteed bonus money. At the time, it was the most valuable contract ever signed by a rookie. It was signed at 2 a.m. on the eve of training camp.“Give them credit,” Fitzgerald’s agent Eugene Parker said. “They stepped up and negotiated. They were motivated, we were motivated, and even though things could be a little adversarial at times, the focus stayed on what was important: getting him there on time.”Fitzgerald went on to play very well his first few seasons in the league, and in 2007 he caught 100 passes for 1,409 yard and 10 touchdowns. Just 24 years old, Fitzgerald’s rookie contract called for him to earn $14.6 million in 2008 and $17.4 million in 2009, and the team wanted those numbers to shrink some. So, they again went to the negotiating table. And again, when the dust settled, Fitz came out on top. The extension, which was signed in March 2008, was a four-year, $40 million deal with $30 million guaranteed. The new deal locked the receiver up through 2011.“Our commitment was to make sure we continue to make progress with our football team, and we feel good about the fact that we were able to keep a player of Larry’s caliber,” Rod Graves, then Arizona’s GM, said at the time. “We are going to continue to do that with all our core players.” The following season was a banner one for Fitzgerald, as he caught 80 passes for 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns. However, his numbers dipped some since then, with him catching just 216 passes for 2,536 yards and 17 touchdowns over the next three seasons. Set to be 32 when the next season began and slated to count nearly $24 million against the team’s 2015 salary cap, the Cardinals again needed to re-work their star’s contract. This time was different, though, as some thought the team and player would not be able to agree on a price that would keep the face of the franchise in town. Would Fitzgerald, who has been accustomed to being among the highest-paid receivers in the NFL, be willing to take a substantial paycut? Turns out he didn’t have to.On Feb. 18, 2015, Fitzgerald and the team worked out an extension that was essentially a two-year deal worth a guaranteed $22 million. It freed up about $13 million in salary cap space for the team and kept Fitzgerald very well-compensated.“The two biggest goals for us were pretty simple,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim said of the deal. “Number one, to compensate Larry for the type of player, the type of talent he is and the leader that he is, and then essentially clearing enough salary cap space for us moving forward to be able to be aggressive and proactive when free agency starts.” Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Comments   Share   So, Fitzgerald played under that new deal and in that time went from being a very good receiver to one of the game’s best. He caught 96 passes for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2008, before then going on a historic postseason run in leading the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, and then followed that up with a 97-catch, 1,092-yard, 13 TD campaign in 2009. Fitzgerald’s numbers dipped some in 2010, to “just” 90 catches, 1,137 yards and six touchdowns. At the time there was just one year left on his contract, and with the receiver set to turn just 28 before the 2011 campaign and showing no signs of slowing down, it was again time to come to an agreement. And come to an agreement, they did. Fitzgerald and the Cardinals hammered out a contract that could have been worth as much as $120 million over eight years, but carried $50 million of guaranteed money. If played all the way through, it would have kept Fitz in Arizona through the 2018 season.“Growing up, since I was 7 years old, this has been the game I love and something I have been so passionate about,” Fitzgerald said back then, “and to have to talk about it on the business side is a little bit uncomfortable. But I am really happy to put it behind us and it wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the Bidwill family’s hard work in making this thing happen.” The end result of it all has been Fitzgerald, one of the best receivers of all-time and easily the best in Cardinals history, has remained with the team for his entire career. Of course, production like that does not come cheap, as the Cardinals have paid him more than $118 million up to this point, and are set to see that total reach $140 million. In return, the Cardinals have received 909 catches, 12,151 yards and 89 touchdowns, along with a leader on the field and an excellent ambassador in the community.So, the way they see it, it’s money well spent. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Larry Fitzgerald is a great receiver, a player who holds the top spot in pretty much every category he can in the Arizona Cardinals’ record books.But while Fitzgerald has clearly excelled on the field, perhaps the one area he’s even more dominant is in contract negotiations. Really.Since being selected third overall by the Cardinals in the 2004 NFL Draft, Fitzgerald has signed his name to four different contracts or contract extensions with the team. Top Stories Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img

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