Larry Fitzgerald is Only a Wide Receiver

Chris Johnson is probably still a little jealous right about now. While he sits at home, Larry Fitzgerald is enjoying his first day with a brand spanking new 8 year, $120 million contract. With this new deal, the Arizona Cardinals have told Larry Fitzgerald that he is not only one of the best receivers in football but one of the very best that the game has to offer.

This is stupid.

It’s not stupid to say that Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver in football nor is it stupid to say that he is one of the very best that the game has to offer.

However, it is stupid to give a receiver (a rumoured) $50 million in guaranteed money. It looks like Homer Simpson is back to controlling professional sports franchises again. At least, I would hope so.

The Arizona Cardinals ownership seems determined to relive the winning magic that they experienced not too long ago. Maybe some Cardinals fans can take comfort in the fact that ownership was willing to overpay for the two cornerstone pieces of the franchises in Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald.

Not me. Luckily, I’m not a Cardinals fan.

It’s going to take a lot to justify giving a wide receiver, of all positions, $50 million in guaranteed money. To the best of my knowledge, this isn’t Madden football and the Cardinals do not possess the power to simply turn the salary cap mode off. This isn’t Major League Baseball. In a desperate attempt to prove that they care, the Bidwell family is potentially hampering their organization for years to come.

$120 million for a player who touches the ball 10 times on a good day is a troublesome thought. The Cardinals already overpaid when they addressed the most important position in football. For the most part, I’m fine with that. In all likelihood, John Skelton isn’t your guy.

A wide receiver can only do so much though. Yes, a great receiver can be a game-breaker but in no way will he ever be a $120 million game-breaker.

An inability to manoeuvre with any sort of flexibility under the cap is always an issue with these contracts but with a franchise quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning that kind of money is certainly justifiable.

Even Peyton Manning and Tom Brady took pay cuts to ensure that they gave their team some financial flexibility.

Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t willing to take a pay cut and his team is going to suffer for it. He may not act like a diva but his ego is obviously similar to a diva. Personally, I think it’s selfish to sign a contract of that magnitude but that’s a story for another day.

Related: Who is Peyton Manning?

No one forced the Arizona Cardinals to pay Fitzgerald that much. Either way, they should have backed out instead. His contract could have been someone else’s problem next year. That money should have been spent better.

A great receiver can push a good team over the edge. A great receiver cannot make a bad team a good team. What do we think of Steve Smith’s $10.9 million per year contract with the Carolina Panthers?

Heck, that’s nothing.

Sure, Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most beloved players in the history of the franchise but that shouldn’t get in the way of running a business. Not to this degree. The last thing any organization needs is tying up a ridiculous amount of money in a person that doesn’t take every snap.

Alone, Larry Fitzgerald cannot turn his Arizona Cardinals into a winner. I mean, he is only a wide receiver.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Is the NFL Combine Overrated?

Workout Warrior Tony Mandarich was one of the biggest busts of all-time

Lucas Oil Stadium — The Mecca for NFL prospects. The NFL Combine takes place each year in Indianapolis and has become one of the biggest NFL events of the year for football fans. In 2010, the Combine garnered 5.2 million viewers and as Fox Sports writer John Czarnecki points out, that number is more than double the amount of viewer’s to ESPN’s baseball telecasts on an ordinary week. Oh yeah, the NFL Network is shown in 43 million fewer homes than ESPN.

With all the hype that the Combine gets and the amount of value that is placed on 40 yard dashes, verticals and bench pressing, you have to wonder why.

Everyone, from your average fan to top scouts seem to place so much value on these tangible aspects of the game of football. The Combine displays physical skills that are obviously translatable to the NFL game, but the fact of the matter is that everything that is accomplished at the Combine is accomplished in non-game situations.

The Combine is kind of like that old golf adage, “drive for show, putt for dough.”

It looks really nice when you drive a ball 350 yards right down the middle of the fairway, but when you get up and down in 4 shots that 350 yard drive is forgotten.

It is no different in football. You are very impressive when you do 40 reps on the bench press or run a sub 4.4 in the 40. Good on you.

At least at the combine you can also drive for dough, if you know what I mean. Darrius Heyward-Bey knows all about that.

The draft stock of players is too dependent on their performance at the Combine, despite the NFL front offices and scouts knowing all about the folly this event. To this day, the tendency is still there to shy away from Combine failures and be drawn to the workout warriors.

It’s silly.

The intangible elements that are only seen during game play are not on display at the NFL combine (obviously). You aren’t going to be able to find out if a receiver can find the soft spot of a zone defence or if a linebacker can read the quarterbacks eyes. Some guys can flat out play the game and are denied an opportunity to show what they can do because they don’t possess those god given physical gifts that scouts drool over.

You’re probably thinking it, but I still have to say it. Jerry Rice ran a 4.6 in his 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine in 1985. Jerry Rice was the 3rd receiver taken in the draft at 16th overall. Best receiver in NFL history isn’t too bad now is it?

Vince Young might have scored a 6 on his first attempt at the dreaded Wonderlic exam, otherwise known as the IQ test for dummies, but no matter what that test says the dude can play ball. He might have had some trouble throughout his NFL but you don’t win an offensive rookie of the year award for doing nothing. Young may not have the best throwing style or put in the effort to make himself the best player he possibly could be, but he makes things happen on the football field.

The intangibles of players that you don’t see at the NFL Combine need to be taking into account more. College success may not always translate to success at the NFL level, but if you have a player who has proven he can make things happen it might be best to overlook some of those supposed physical “deficiencies.” Not to say that a guy’s draft stock should improve simply because he was a good college player, rather I mean that, for example, a player projected as a first round talent prior to the combine should not necessarily lose that status because of a weaker than anticipated performance.

This isn’t to say that the combine means absolutely nothing either. Chris Johnson was projected as a mid-round pick until his ridiculous 4.24 time that launched him to 24th overall in the 2008 draft. Take your Combine with a grain of salt.

So watch the Combine, have a ball, but beware of the foolishness.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. You can also follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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