However, Fitzgerald, two weeks from his 38th birthday, admitted he’s not ready to get back on the field… right now.
“For now, I’ll be a radio broadcaster,” Fitzgerald said Friday on Jim Gray’s “Let’s Go” radio show. “Jim, to be honest with you, I just don’t have the urge to play right now.”
Fitzgerald didn’t count out playing an 18th season and appears comfortable idling on his retirement announcement, leaving the hope of a homecoming for the Minneapolis native alive.
“I don’t know how I’ll feel in September, October, November moving forward, but I just, today, I just don’t have the urge,” Fitzgerald added. “I think I have to be respectful of that. Football is not one of those games you want to walk out there and play and not be fully engaged and ready to prepare and do the things necessary that you need to do.”
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Fitzgerald Unlikely to Return to Arizona Entirely
Fitzgerald’s lack of urgency to play right now harkens back to years of futility with the Cardinals.
Through his first 12 seasons, Fitzgerald and the Cardinals made four playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl XLII loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009. However, Arizona hasn’t made it back to the postseason in five years.
The Cardinals’ offseason moves have also signaled the franchise has phased Fitzgerald out of its future. Arizona signed A.J. Green this offseason to join the top-two tandem of DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk.
“The door seems to be closed on Fitzgerald in Arizona. The signing of receiver A.J. Green, which essentially gives him Fitzgerald’s spot behind DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, seemed to seal it,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio wrote in March. “Even if the Cardinals would opt to have four receivers who don’t participate in special teams, the Cardinals seem to have too much money tied up in the position, between Hopkins’ top-of-market contract and the one-year deal given to Green.”
Considering Arizona plays in the ultra-competitive NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, the Cardinals have a difficult road ahead for making a deep postseason run.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald, totaling the second-most receiving yards all-time (17,492) and 11 Pro Bowl seasons, has one elusive accolade he’s left to chase in his career — a Super Bowl win.
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Florio: Vikings, Buccaneers Among Top Contenders for Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald’s roots in Minnesota run deep, however, he also has plenty of professional ties in Tampa Bay along with the winningest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady.
“Multiple tentacles connect Fitzgerald to the Buccaneers. Bruce Arians coached Fitzgerald and the Cardinals for five years,” Florio wrote. “Byron Leftwich was an offensive assistant in Arizona. Receivers coach Kevin Garver had that same role with the Cardinals; his online profile with the Bucs specifically touts his work with Fitzgerald.”
Florio has yet to dismiss Fitzgerald’s homecoming despite Fitzgerald not being rostered currently.
“The chips could still fall in the shape of a homecoming for Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald. A ball boy for the 1998 Vikings, Fitzgerald could be taking a wait-and-see approach as to whether the team will put a legitimate contender on the field in 2021,” Florio wrote a week ago. “Until he officially retires or signs with another team, it’s a possibility that can’t be completely dismissed.”
Fitzgerald’s future will unroll this season, but if the Vikings piece together a hot enough start to entice, the veteran wide receiver may be willing to take another swing with the team that sparked his NFL dreams.