NFL Trade Rumors 2011: Is Larry Fitzgerald's Time in Arizona Coming to an End?

Matt SchaeferCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 2:  Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals catches a touchdown against the San Francisco 49er during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on January 2, 2011 in San Francisco, California.(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

This just isn’t the same Arizona Cardinals team that appeared in the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history just two short seasons ago.

Kurt Warner is long gone and it has not been an easy life since then for Cardinals fans. In fact, Cardinals fans are not the only ones suffering through a terrible stretch of football, the players on the team are too.

And no one is suffering more than star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Just two years ago, Fitzgerald was getting all the praise for being one of the best players in the league, as he was hauling in passes from Warner at a record setting pace. Warner and Fitzgerald were a force as they helped carry the Cardinals team to the Super Bowl.

Fast forward to today, and life after Warner has not been too kind to Arizona.

The team just struggled through a disappointing 5-11 season and Fitzgerald doesn’t even have a capable quarterback to get him the ball, let alone to put up wins on the scoreboard. 

It’s official: The Arizona Cardinals are in full rebuilding mode.

If the Cardinals were smart, they would trade Fitzgerald now, seeing as the star wide receiver only has one more year left on his contract and is a long shot to return to the Cardinals organization. 

Since he won’t be returning anyway, the Cardinals front office might as well just take whatever they can get for Fitzgerald now to try to get more pieces (or picks) in place to continue with their rebuilding process.

I’m speculating at this point, but my guess is that Fitzgerald wants to get out of Arizona as fast as possible too.

He is a very competitive player who was so close to getting a Super Bowl championship that he has to be just praying to get out of the mess in Arizona and try to help a real contender. 

So, where exactly could he end up?

If I had to bet money on it, I would put it all on the New England Patriots.

They are a team constantly battling for titles year in and year out, and could use a playmaker at wide receiver to give their offense even more firepower.

Sure, the Patriots don’t need Fitzgerald (they certainly didn’t have a problem on offense once Randy Moss was released during the season), but it’s not like it would cost a ton to get him in a Patriots jersey.

Sure, a first and second round pick for Fitzgerald might cause some teams to stray away from going after him, but the Patriots have the luxury of having two first round and two second round picks in the upcoming draft.

It’s not like Fitzgerald wouldn’t be worth it. He is still one of the best wide receivers currently playing the game today.

Since he came into the league as a rookie in 2004, Fitzgerald has averaged 88 receptions, 1,172 receiving yards and nine touchdowns a season.

Just imagine the numbers he would put up with Tom Brady throwing him the football.

The Patriots might feel the pressure to make a big time move after three straight postseason losses; Fitzgerald is the big name player that would put this team over the top offensively.

He is also a high character guy who is looking to win championships and would fit in perfectly in Bill Belichick’s locker room.

In the end, it's all up to the Cardinals to make a move with their franchise player or to hold pat.

This isn’t the same franchise it once was though and in the end, trading Fitzgerald would not only bring in other players and picks, but it would also create some more cash for other young players the team is targeting.

It would be an addition by subtraction for the Cardinals and it would help put Fitzgerald on a contending team, where he would be happy. 

The rest of the NFL better hope it just isn’t the Patriots who make a move for him.