Fitzgerald, 38, an 11-time Pro Bowl receiver, didn’t suit up this season but “never announced an official retirement” as podcast host Jim Gray noted. Gray, who also does a separate “Let’s Go!” podcast edition with Tom Brady, brought up a potential return in light of Godwin’s season-ending injury.
“Nothing’s changed on that front, Jim, for me,” Fitzgerald told Gray.
It echoed Fitzgerald’s previous statement in August 2021.
“To be honest with you, I just don’t have the urge to play right now,” Fitzgerald told Gray. “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.”
On Monday, Fitzgerald quickly pivoted to talking about Godwin and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ MCL tear.
“My heart goes out to both of those guys,” said Fitzgerald, who played in Arizona with Hopkins last season. “Obviously, Chris has been a huge part of that Tampa Bay offense.”
“Anybody that’s watched Bruce Arians’ systems to death, you know that’s a very key component to him running that offense in terms of running and blocking and catching passes and intermediate passing game. So, I mean, that’s definitely devastating news for Tampa,” Fitzgerald added.
Injuries ravaged the Bucs faster than the omicron variant against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Dec. 19. The Bucs lost Godwin and Pat O’Connor for the season in addition to Leonard Fournette and Lavonte David for the regular season until the playoffs. Mike Evans also injured a hamstring, but he has a week-to-week status.
Tampa Bay already signed one player off the streets in running back Le’Veon Bell on Wednesday, Dec. 22.
Fitzgerald Could Makes Sense for Bucs if He Wants to Play
Fitzgerald joining the Bucs wouldn’t be that far-fetched. He produced in his final season with Arizona in 2020 with 54 catches for 409 yards and a touchdown in 13 games.
In 2019, Fitzgerald tallied more impressive numbers with 75 catches for 804 yards and four touchdowns. He has 1,432 receptions, 17,492 yards, and 121 touchdowns in his career.
Fitzgerald also has a few connections with the Bucs. He played for Bucs head coach Bruce Arians in Arizona from 2013 to 2017. Fitzgerald also looks up to Brady per AZCardinals.com.
“He’s a model of consistency. He’s just unbelievable, passer rating, touchdowns-to-interceptions, the guy does it every single year,” Fitzgerald told AZCardinals.com.
Their connection through the “Let’s Go!” podcast couldn’t hurt, too.
Speculation of Fitzgerald heading Brady’s way occurred after the 2020 season when Fitzgerald remained unsigned. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio speculated in March 2021 that Fitzgerald would join the Bucs. Notably, Fitzgerald hasn’t won a Super Bowl ring yet.
Fitzgerald on Hit to Godwin
Similar to Brady, Fitzgerald voiced his concerns about hits to the knees, which derailed Godwin’s season.
“I wouldn’t say it was dirty, but this is kind of where the game has gone. Guys are tackling lower. They had to bring the angle down. When I played, I actually told guys ‘hit me up high, I’ll pay your fine.'” Fitzgerald told Gray. “The head trauma things that come along with it … they affect you later on in life, but a blown ACL or a ruptured Achilles tendon, those things right there will end your career on the spot.”
“It’s really unfortunate because you see guys like Chris suffer the effects of an ACL, and you see it across the league all the time especially when it’s tight ends who are larger — they just get the legs chopped out from under them,” Fitzgerald said.