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Larry Fitzgerald to return for 15th NFL season in 2018

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pitt wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has mostly taken a year-to-year approach with his NFL career for some time now. Most recently, Fitz said he would take some time to decide whether to continue playing in 2018. Specifically, he was waiting until the Arizona Cardinals hired their new coach after Bruce Arians retired.

The Cardinals hired Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and apparently that is good enough for Fitzgerald. Wilks mentioned on a recent radio show that his star receiver would be returning for 2018:

“It’s a very exciting time for all of us. To all the Arizona Cardinals fans around the world, it’s very exciting because Larry mentioned to me last night that he is coming back for the 2018 season,” Wilks told Doug & Wolf Thursday morning on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station during Newsmakers Week.

“I’m extremely excited,” Wilks continued. “You’re talking about a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. I couldn’t be more excited to have Larry coming back next year. He is totally committed — those are his words — so we’re excited and ecstatic to have him part of the Arizona Cardinals.”

One interesting thing is that Fitzgerald made the move without a confirmed quarterback for next season. Starter Carson Palmer retired after last season and that’s one area the Cardinals are still trying to firm up.

Fitz continues to be extremely productive. The 34-year-old receiver had his ninth 1,000-yard season last year with 1,156 yards and six touchdowns. His 109 receptions were a career-high (tie). His last three years have been most productive years of his career in terms of catching passes (109 catches in 2015, 107 in 2016, and 109 last year) so he doesn’t appear to be slowing down much.

There’s also good reason for Fitzgerald to return as he will continue his march up the all-time receiving lists. Entering 2018, he needs 390 yards to pass Terrell Owens for second on the all-time receiving yardage list and 92 to pass Tony Gonzalez for second on the all-time receptions list.

Jerry Rice is first on both lists. Catching Rice for the receiving yardage mark seems to be a pipe dream with Rice more than 7,000 yards ahead of him there. The all-time receptions record is a little more attainable but would still require Fitzgerald to play at a high level for several more seasons as Rice is currently 315 catches ahead of him.

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