Wide Receivers Off-season Analysis

Coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to run the ball more, but it is difficult to neglect all the talent he has at wide receiver. The Cardinals' passing attack ranked in the top five, led by lone Pro Bowl representative Larry Fitzgerald and his dominant counterpart, Anquan Boldin.

Larry Fitzgerald is the one holding the Cardinals' checkbook. He is set to make $14.6 million in 2008. The Cardinals have about $30 million to spend, but they want to renegotiate with Fitzgerald to open up funds for the off-season.

Fitzgerald is worth every penny. In his fourth year, Fitzgerald's productivity has yet to falter. His 1,409 yards placed him fourth in the league and tied a career-high. The Cardinals need to keep their only Pro Bowler happy. Fitzgerald's notoriety is what the Cardinals will bank on in 2008.

Anquan Boldin's receptions (71) have tapered off for the second consecutive year. He also earned his second-lowest career yardage total (853), but managed to set a career-high in scores (nine). He did miss four games with hip and toe injuries.

Behind Boldin is Bryant Johnson, who is an unrestricted free agent. Johnson earned about $16,000 per reception last year, which resulted in 528 yards for the Cardinals.

The former first-round pick has the potential to be a star receiver. If the Cardinals do not jump on his train quickly, they could lose him to another team that promises more money and more playing time.

If Johnson signs elsewhere, then Jerheme Urban will step into the No.3 receiver role. Urban had about half of Johnson's receptions (22), but earned 329 yards while receiving the most extensive action of his five-year career.

The Cardinals' 2007 third-round pick, Steve Breaston, tied Morey with eight receptions, netting 92 yards. Whisenhunt is high on Breaston's potential, so his roster spot is secure.

Down the line is Sean Morey, a fiery receiver with two years left on his contract. Morey turned eight receptions into 131 yards last season with a long of 62.

Jamaica Rector was promoted from the practice squad in December. His primary value is as a punt returner, but he can contribute as a fourth or fifth receiver.

Ahmad Merritt is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. The fourth-year veteran spent the season on injured-reserve with an ankle injury and is not expected back.

At the bottom of the depth chart is Jemalle Cornelius, who was just re-signed after spending the 2007 season on the practice squad. Cornelius runs precise routes and boasts a terrific work ethic. He will challenge for the final spot in the rotation.

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications.


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