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Cardinals' president Michael Bidwill calls Larry Fitzgerald 'greatest Cardinal ever'

Arizona Cardinals' president Michael Bidwill called Larry Fitzgerald the "greatest Cardinal ever" in an interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 on Tuesday morning.

After finishing 7-8-1 and on the outside of the playoff picture in 2016, the Arizona Cardinals were deflated.

Perhaps no one took the season's results harder than team president and owner Michael Bidwill, who talked about the Cardinals' struggles last year and their plans for the future in a radio interview on the "Doug and Wolf Show" on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday morning. 

"Extremely disappointing, I don't know that anybody was more disappointed," Bidwill said of Arizona's season. "I think everybody had their hopes up, we certainly felt like we were picking up where we left off. We had a great start, training camp we had some injuries here and there, but we felt like we were coming on pretty strong out of training camp and to drop that first one against the Patriots and it was a missed field goal, missed opportunities, blown plays, I feel pretty good about where we came out."

A missed field goal in the final minute of regulation in week one against New England set the stage for the Cardinals' season, one in which the offense and the defense both played well enough at times, but were often let down by Arizona's dismal special teams units. 

Bidwill lamented Arizona's struggles on special teams on Monday, suggesting making improvements in every facet's of the Cardinals' special teams play will be an obvious focus for the organization this offseason. 

"There were three teams that were both a top ten offense and top ten defense, it was the Patriots, the Seahawks and the Cardinals," Bidwill said. "We were 32nd in special teams so that's going to be a big area of focus where we're going to be focusing in the offseason so we're going to be working in free agency. I know that Steve (Keim) is working on all of the different players."

Of all the free agents Arizona will work on re-signing, edge rusher Chandler Jones will take priority for the organization, as the Cardinals attempt to reach a multi-year deal with the pass-rushing specialist that's fair for both sides.

During his interview, Bidwill was asked whether he thought having the franchise tag in place or having a contract set for Jones was going to be easier to work with heading into free agency. The Cardinals' owner didn't indicate which plan of action he preferred, but did say Arizona won't be hesitant to use the franchise tag to keep Jones in Cardinal red next season and that Jones knows that. 

"We're prepared for both and we're not going to mess around with that," Bidwill said. "He's a great pass rusher, but if we can't agree to terms that work for us, we're just going to franchise him and his people know that."

Bidwill also provided his thoughts on a pair of Cardinals' wide receivers set to return to the fold next season, including franchise icon Larry Fitzgerald who announced his decision to return to the field in 2017 after mulling retirement through the month of January. Bidwill said he's elated to have Fitzgerald back next season and called him the "greatest Cardinal ever."

"No question, I think he's the greatest Cardinal ever, I also think he's the greatest athlete in Arizona history and I think he's the greatest community guy that gives back to the community in Arizona history," Bidwill said. "He is such an example on and off the field for everybody, I just can't think of any other professional person out there that's done more than Larry Fitzgerald."

The other receiver Bidwill provided an update on is former third round draft pick John Brown, who was diagnosed with sickle-cell trait during the 2016 regular season. Brown's diagnosis and the complications from sickle-cell trait hindered his progress last season, and Brown wasn't able to play at full strength for much of the year. However, Bidwill said the Cardinals are confident doctors have found the issue that was holding Brown back and that the team expects him to return healthy in 2017. 

"He is very healthy, looks like they found the issue," Bidwill said. "We'll get Smoke back the way we had him." 

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