Tagged in: Larry Fitzgerald

A.J. Green, Arizona Cardinals agree to 1-year deal

Veteran receiver A.J. Green, one of the most prolific players in franchise history over his 10 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, it was revealed Wednesday.

The deal is worth up to $8.5 million and includes $6 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Green, who will be 33 at the beginning of next season, will fill a much-needed WR2 hole for the Cardinals and will be the complementary piece to DeAndre Hopkins that the team was seeking. Both Hopkins and Green are among the top five in receiving yards leaguewide over the past 10 seasons, according to ESPN Sports & Information research.

“Time to go to work!” Hopkins tweeted Wednesday.

If Larry Fitzgerald returns for the 2021 campaign, Arizona could feature three future Hall of Fame receivers on its roster. Hopkins essentially carried Arizona’s passing game in 2020, leading the team with 1,407 receiving yards; the next-most productive receiver was Christian Kirk with 621 yards.

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Green will give third-year quarterback Kyler Murray another every-down threat, likely on the opposite side of the field from Hopkins.

Arizona ran three-wide receiver sets the most last season, accounting for 44.9% of its plays. Two-receiver sets accounted for 29.8% of the Cardinals’ plays, and they ran four-receiver sets on 20.3% of plays.

Green’s contributions with the Bengals dropped significantly over the past few seasons because of numerous injuries and apparent frustrations with his role in the offense.

He concluded last season ranked second in Bengals franchise history in career receiving yards (9,430), second in touchdowns (65) and second in total receptions (649). Green also holds the team record for consecutive 100-yard receiving games (five, 2013).

The bulk of Green’s totals, however, came during the first five years of his career. Starting with the 2016 season, the former Georgia standout battled numerous injuries. From that point onward, he missed 29 matches, including the entire 2019 season after he suffered an ankle injury in the first preseason practice.

Green played all 16 games in 2020 but had career single-season low totals of 47 catches for 523 yards and two touchdowns. He caught 43.9% of his targets, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, the lowest of any qualifying Bengals receiver last season.

He was frustrated at times last season. In Week 5 at Baltimore, Green was asked about a sideline exchange in which he appeared to indicate that if the Bengals didn’t want to use him, they should trade him. Green downplayed the interaction in subsequent interviews.

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection played the 2020 season on the one-year franchise tag worth $18.2 million after the two sides failed to reach a long-term deal during the offseason.

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Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald back for 17th season

The Arizona Cardinals informed the receiver will return in 2020 for his 17th pro season, signing Fitzgerald to a one-year contract. He had been set to become a free agent.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports Fitzgerald’s deal is worth $11 million with incentives, per sources informed of the contract.

Fitzgerald’s future has been the subject of speculation each season of the past couple of years. Yet the 36-year-old continues to produce.

Fitzgerald snagged 75 receptions for 804 yards and four touchdowns in 2019, all team highs.

Even as things seem to change often in Arizona, Fitzgerald’s production still as steady as a rock.

The veteran’s ability to get open on quick routes meshes well with Kliff Kingsbury’s offense and Kyler Murray’s lightning-fast release. Perhaps Fitzgerald will no longer burn past receivers, but he still owns the route-running ability to box out defenders and vice-grip hands to snag pigskins in close quarters.

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While the Cardinals hope someday soon one of their young guns overtakes Fitzgerald as a true No. 1 target, Kingsbury understands the vital role the veteran plays for his offense to move the chains consistently.

“I think he’s playing as good as anybody, honestly,” Kingsbury said at the close of the season. “You watch what he does week-in and week-out, the little things, the blocking and the toughness that he brings to the offensive side of the football. We missed him twice for huge plays yesterday. He’s just still creating separation. He does it all.”

The 11-time Pro Bowler and former Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year sits No. 1 in Cardinals history in catches (1,378), receiving yards (17,083) and receiving TDs (120). Fitzgerald trails only Jerry Rice in NFL history in catches and receiving yards.

The Cardinals wideout needs 171 receptions and 5,812 yards to tie Rice. It would take a few more campaigns to come close to those numbers, but Fitzy is at least inching closer to records that once seemed outlandish for any wideout to get near.

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