Turning the Cardinals around is going to be a challenge for Kliff Kingsbury. The return of Larry Fitzgerald for one more season could really help him.
Larry Fitzgerald isn’t one of the best receivers in the NFL at this point in his career, but he was still one of Josh Rosen’s best targets last year. If he decides not to come back for one more season with the Cardinals, it’s going to get Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure in the desert off to a rough start.
According to ESPN, Fitzgerald is taking some time to “collect his thoughts” before he makes a firm decision about what he’s going to do next season. It’s very possible the sure-fire Hall of Famer will elect to retire rather than return to the team that finished with the worst record in the NFL last season. The Cardinals will have the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft, but that probably won’t play a big role in Fitzgerald’s decision.
There’s also a real possibility Fitzgerald will entertain the idea of moving to a contender. He isn’t a Pro Bowler any longer, but he’s still a guy who can really help a team looking to add one more offensive weapon. His precise route running and large catch radius make him a particularly dangerous target in the red zone.
Kingsbury needs to do everything he can to make sure Fitzgerald returns for one more season with the Cardinals. His presence is vital for Rosen’s development as the team’s franchise quarterback. The signal caller’s development is absolutely Kingsbury’s top priority as the team’s rookie head coach.
Replacing a wideout who caught 69 balls for 734 yards and six touchdowns isn’t a challenge Kingsbury should want to face. This team has plenty of other holes on the roster. The Cardinals head coach claims he’s leaving the issue of Fitzgerald up to the “guys who write the checks” but he needs to take a more active role in his potential success.
If Fitzgerald doesn’t return, Arizona will need to address the wide receiver position in either free agency or the draft. Christian Kirk gives Kingsbury an interesting weapon to build around, but the rest of the receiver group is pretty average. Kingsbury’s reputation as an offensive guru might take a hit if he doesn’t have quality weapons to put around Rosen.
Getting Fitzgerald back into the fold for 2019 isn’t going to power the Cardinals into the playoffs, but it could be enough to get them back to respectability. That would be major success in Kingsbury’s first year at the helm.