There was a story over the weekend that Larry Fitzgerald, Hall of Fame wideout for the Cardinals, is expected to retire before the 2021 season. It's not a surprise, but it's the first confirmation we've been given that the 37-year-old was likely done playing.
Fitzgerald has been a great pro for a long time, with five 100-catch seasons, double-digit Pro Bowl selections, and some memorable postseason games, most notably the 2008 Super Bowl run with Kurt Warner where he went over 100 yards and scored in all four playoff games -- 542 yards and 7 touchdowns in those games, nearly carrying the team to a championship, falling short on the remarkable Santonio Holmes catch. First ballot Hall of Famer without question.
But Father Time comes for everyone, and Fitzgerald has notably slowed down in recent years. Especially last year. His 54 receptions went for just 409 yards. That's 7.6 yards per catch, which is the lowest figure by a wideout to catch at least 50 passes this century.
|WIDE RECEIVERS AVERAGING UNDER 10 YARDS PER CATCH, 2000-2020|
|2020||Sterling Shepard, NYG||90||66||656||9.9||3|
|2020||Keenan Allen, LAC||147||100||992||9.9||8|
|2017||Randall Cobb, G.B.||92||66||653||9.9||4|
|2010||Wes Welker, N.E.||123||86||848||9.9||7|
|2006||Rod Smith, Den.||94||52||512||9.9||3|
|2008||T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cin.||137||92||904||9.8||4|
|2012||Kendall Wright, Ten.||104||64||626||9.8||4|
|2006||Eric Moulds, Hou.||78||57||557||9.8||1|
|2018||Danny Amendola, Mia.||79||59||575||9.8||1|
|2016||Tyreek Hill, K.C.||83||61||593||9.7||6|
|2015||Davante Adams, G.B.||94||50||483||9.7||1|
|2016||Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||150||107||1023||9.6||6|
|2001||Peter Warrick, Cin.||137||70||667||9.5||1|
|2011||Austin Collie, Ind.||96||54||514||9.5||1|
|2013||Ace Sanders, Jac.||87||51||484||9.5||1|
|2014||Percy Harvin, 2TM||78||51||483||9.5||1|
|2002||Troy Brown, N.E.||141||97||890||9.2||3|
|2018||Chester Rogers, Ind.||72||53||485||9.2||2|
|2014||James Jones, Oak.||112||73||666||9.1||6|
|2015||Tavon Austin, St.L.||87||52||473||9.1||5|
|2017||Jordy Nelson, G.B.||88||53||482||9.1||6|
|2015||Golden Tate, Det.||128||90||813||9.0||6|
|2014||Jarvis Landry, Mia.||112||84||758||9.0||5|
|2005||Jabar Gaffney, Hou.||90||55||492||9.0||2|
|2017||Jarvis Landry, Mia.||161||112||987||8.8||9|
|2019||Mohamed Sanu, 2TM||89||59||520||8.8||2|
|2016||Tavon Austin, LAR||106||58||509||8.8||3|
|2016||Anquan Boldin, Det.||95||67||584||8.7||8|
|2016||Cordarrelle Patterson, Min.||70||52||453||8.7||2|
|2020||JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.||128||97||831||8.6||9|
|2009||Andre Caldwell, Cin.||80||51||432||8.5||3|
|2010||Danny Amendola, St.L.||123||85||689||8.1||3|
|2020||Greg Ward, Phil.||79||53||419||7.9||6|
|2020||Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||72||54||409||7.6||1|
That in itself doesn't mean a wide receiver is washed up. Fitzgerald himself made this list back in 2016, and several younger wideouts averaged under 10 yards per catch a year ago, including JuJu Smith-Schuster and Keenan Allen.
It is, though, dramatically below Fitzgerald's career average (12.2), and even further below his heyday, when he was regularly in the teens -- including a career-high 17.6 yards per reception in 2011. His days of getting threatening a defense much beyond the line of scrimmage are over.
Although we're just hearing confirmation of Fitzgerald likely hanging them up, the Cardinals might have known for a while. They signed A.J. Green last month, a contract that's more understandable with the team having no one proven after DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. They have Andy Isabella, but he hasn't made much of an impact to this point.
Whatever the case, sounds like we've seen the last of Fitzgerald after a pretty great career.