Fitz's Deal Casts Doubt on Boldin's Future

The new contract signed by receiver Larry Fitzgerald casts doubt on the club's chance of keeping both Fitzgerald and receiver Anquan Boldin in the long term. Boldin no doubt will want a contract similar to Fitzgerald's: four years, $40 million, and the club will be faced with a difficult decision.

Anquan Boldin's situation, however, is not a pressing concern. He has three years remaining on the $23.5 million extension he signed in 2005, so the team has no immediate reason to address his contract.

Nor do the Cardinals have the means. They don't have enough cap space in 2008 to take care of another huge extension. Both Boldin and strong safety Adrian Wilson, who re-signed in December of 2004, have talked with the team about extensions, and both have been told that they will likely have to wait.

Ultimately, the club might have to choose between Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald's new contract leads everyone to believe that it will be Fitzgerald that stays, not Boldin.

If that's the club's decision, it could have catastrophic implications. Like Fitzgerald, Boldin has made two Pro Bowls and is regarded as an elite receiver. But unlike Fitzgerald, Boldin is an unquestioned leader of this team.

Boldin leads by both actions and words. When he speaks in the locker room, his teammates stop and listen. No other player commands more respect.

Fitzgerald, in contrast, prefers to keep to himself. His work habits have improved over the past few years, but he's not a guy his teammates are going to rally around.

Boldin is the poster child for what the organization wants in a player. He's smart, he's good and he loves the game. When management talks to its college scouts about what to look for in players, it's Boldin they use as an example.

The club had better think long and hard about when it comes time to make a decision about which receiver to keep.


WR Bryant Johnson
Otto Greule Jr./Getty

NOTES, QUOTES

--While Fitzgerald's new deal created about $9 million of cap space, the team didn't make a serious run at keeping receiver Bryant Johnson. Management decided other needs took priority.

--Management has been criticized for declining to use voidable years at the end of the contracts for its high draft picks. The club chose instead to use escalator clauses. The controversy won't end any time soon. Offensive tackle Levi Brown and cornerback Antrel Rolle have similar mechanisms in their contracts.

--QB Matt Leinart has stepped up his throwing regimen, and it appears he'll be ready to participate in minicamps beginning in May. Leinart has been throwing a few days a week with Larry Fitzgerald.

--Fitzgerald signed his new contract at a Starbucks at the Phoenix airport. He was getting ready to leave on a three-week vacation to South America. It sounds funny, but the impending vacation sped up the negotiation process. "I think it did probably speed the process up a little bit," Fitzgerald said.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I hated this because I'm a guy who doesn't like to be in the spotlight. I'd rather just do my job and go under the radar. All the attention that's been on this contract issue has been out of character for me." -- WR Larry Fitzgerald on his new contract.


DE Rodney Bailey
Chris McGrath/Getty

TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY

With WR Larry Fitzgerald signed, club officials can breathe a little easier because they have the cap space to at least put together a complete roster.

They were down to less than $400,000 in cap space before Fitzgerald's deal was restructured. Now, management will focus on re-signing some veterans for depth, such as defensive lineman Rodney Bailey and safeties Matt Ware and Oliver Celestin.

1. Pass rusher-- Bertrand Berry and Chike Okeafor are coming off injuries and the club needs someone to help Darnell Dockett.

2. Cornerback-- Antrel Rolle's move to free safety makes an already thing position thinner.

3. Offensive line-- The club needs an infusion of young talent at guard and tackle.

MEDICAL WATCH

--SS Adrian Wilson, who missed the second half of last season with a heel/Achilles injury, is recovering nicely from surgery. He is expected to be 100 percent by training camp.

--QB Matt Leinart is making steady progress in his rehabilitation from a fractured collarbone suffered last season. Leinart is throwing several times a week and should be ready for minicamp.

--DE/OLB Bertrand Berry is progressing well from a torn triceps tendon that caused him to miss the last half of the season. Berry, however, is due to make $4 million in 2008 and has finished the last three years on injured reserve. Those factors might result him being released.

--DE/OLB Chike Okeafor has recovered from a torn biceps tendon that caused him to miss the 2007 season. Okeafor should be 100 percent healthy for the start of training camp.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: LB Karlos Dansby (tendered at $8.065M).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--P Dirk Johnson: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Travis LaBoy: UFA Titans; $22M/5 yrs, $7.5M guaranteed.
--TE Jerame Tuman: FA Steelers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--TE Troy Bienemann: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LS Nathan Hodel: UFA; 4 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

--LB Darryl Blackstock: Not tendered as RFA/Bengals; $560,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.
--DT Chris Cooper (released).
--S Terrence Holt (released).
--WR Bryant Johnson: UFA 49ers; 1 year. --WR Sean Morey (released).
--OLB Calvin Pace: UFA Jets; $42M/6 yrs, $22M guaranteed.
--OT Oliver Ross (released).
--OG Keydrick Vincent: UFA Panthers; $2M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB.


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