It seems like the most popular athlete in Arizona officially got his contract: for quite some time, many have been wondering whether Larry Fitzgerald would return to the Arizona Cardinals. The longtime superstar with over 10,000 receiving yards and 89 touchdowns saw his numbers waver last year: he had his lowest receiving yards since his rookie season (784) and only caught two TD passes. Still, he remains the Cardinals all-time leader in almost every single receiving category.

However, Fitzgerald was walking into 2015 with a huge cap hit on the Cardinals: despite their amazing run, Arizona needs the money to address weak areas through free agency and the draft. He was supposed to earn $16.25 million in 2015, with a cap hit of $23.6 million. In the restructured deal, both Cards GM Steve Kaim and Fitzgerald worked together to give the Cards the best opportunity to succeed: while the actual numbers have not been disclosed, it at least guarantees $22 million to the franchise receiver over the next two years.

“Once we decided to really put the foot on the gas pedal the last week or so, we were able to get the deal done pretty quickly,” said the GM. “The two biggest goals for us were pretty simple — number one to compensate Larry for the type of player, the type of talent that he is and the leader that he is; and essentially clearing up enough salary-cap space for us moving forward to be able to be aggressive and proactive when free agency starts.”

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After one spectacular run and many average years under Ken Whisenhunt, the Cards have been revitalized under Bruce Arians. In the harsh NFC West, the team has a 21-11 record over the last two seasons — in 2013 they slightly missed the playoffs despite winning ten games.

Still, Arizona has to deal with several key issues: they desperately need a running back and an interior offensive lineman. On top of this, they hope Carson Palmer lives up to his big contract after injuries kept him sidelined for most of 2014 — how good Larry has been without a proper QB over the years is a testament to his worth.

In the end, the added money from this deal can only give Arians more tools to further push this very talented team. Depending on their free agency push, the Cards could emerge an early favorite for next year’s Super Bowl.

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