<
>

Larry Fitzgerald's future becoming hot topic around Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald sent a minor shockwave through the NFL when he said on national radio Monday that he was "uncertain" about his playing future. It quickly became the topic du jour.

Fitzgerald was asked if his comments after Sunday's loss about focusing on the next two games and not looking ahead meant he was leaning toward retirement.

"No, I wouldn't say that I'm contemplating it right now," Fitzgerald said on Westwood One Radio before the Monday Night Football game. "But I'm uncertain about what I'm going to do moving forward. But I still love the game, I love the competition and I love being around the guys and competing for a championship. That's a lot of fun to me."

The uncertainty of Fitzgerald's future was the topic of the third question coach Bruce Arians fielded during his Tuesday news conference.

"Like every year, the same team never comes back," Arians said. "Obviously, he would be a big part of it, not coming back, if he decides to retire.

"I hope he comes back."

Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer said they have not talked to Fitzgerald about his future. Palmer said they've only discussed playing the Seahawks and the Christmas gifts their children are getting. Palmer added that the two will discuss Fitzgerald's future "later."

Fitzgerald, 33, has a league-high 98 receptions this season and was voted to play in the Pro Bowl. The Cardinals, however, have struggled; they're 5-8-1 after going 13-3 in 2015.

One of the few guarantees in life is that no NFL team will be exactly the same in consecutive years. The Cardinals have 22 unrestricted free agents, according to ESPN Stats & Information. General manager Steve Keim said earlier this week that he already has started conversations with players whose contracts are expiring, as well as with players under contract next season whose contracts he'd like to extend.

"It takes two sides," Keim said. "But those are conversations I'll keep to myself and we don't generally talk about through the media. There are several players we'd like to have back and it takes two sides."

If he gets the opportunity, Palmer said he'll try to convince teammates -- including Fitzgerald -- to come back for another year. But the quarterback, whose own future has been a topic of discussion in recent weeks, said he couldn't think of any situations when he successfully has lobbied a player to stay.

"I think when you are deciding about your future and things like that, you always try to convince guys, but guys need to make the decision, regardless of who it is," Palmer said.

Palmer, who will turn 37 next week, said after Sunday's game that he plans on playing in 2017. But he said Tuesday that he didn't make the statement to quiet any concerns or send any messages.

Arians, whose own future has been discussed in various media outlets, put to rest any speculation that he might retire or resign after this season.

"I'll be back," he said. "I ain't going nowhere."