Fitzgerald had been scheduled to carry a $23.6 million salary cap hit in 2015, including an $8 million salary and an $8 million roster bonus that was due in mid-March which made reworking his contract a priority for the team.
The new contract will create about $13 million in cap space, according to team president Michael Bidwill, while Fitzgerald will receive $22 million in guaranteed money over the course of the new deal.
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim admitted he had been in discussions with Fitzgerald???s agent Eugene Parker for some time and was relieved to finally get the deal completed.
“I think it was just really important to Larry to remain a Cardinal,” Keim said. “I know he feels like it’s a special place.
???He has a tremendous relationship with Michael Bidwill, our president and owner, so that really helped, as well, to have those two sit down and talk things out.
“We knew all along that Larry wanted to stay a Cardinal. We just had to find that balance where both sides were happy.”
Fitzgerald, 31, has spent his entire 11-year career with the Cardinals and is the franchise’s all-time leader in every major receiving category.
But the eight-time Pro Bowler had just 784 receiving yards — his lowest total since his rookie year — and a career-low two touchdowns last season as the team dealt with injuries to quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton.
Despite Fitzgerald???s declining production, Bidwill felt it was imperative for the team to keep their marquee player and said he wants to see Fitzgerald finish his career with Arizona.
“We’re excited to have him as a Cardinal,” Bidwill said. “That’s where he needs to be, that’s where he’s going to be, and as I have said all along, we want to see him retire a Cardinal.
“He doesn’t belong in any other colour other than Cardinal red.
“When you think about the Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald is one of the first players you think about. He embodies what we want a Cardinal to be.”