Listen, I don’t try to live my life as a contrarian. That’s not true — I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world’s most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it’s best to take a look at the other side.
In this space, I articulate positions that are the opposite of what most people think — unpopular opinions, if you will — and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Here is my take on why the Arizona Cardinals should trade the most iconic player in franchise history.
Larry Fitzgerald looks lost in Arizona. He looks as uncomfortable with this current crop of Cardinals as Rusty Ryan in that opening scenes of "Ocean’s Eleven" when he’s cold-decking a bunch of "Teen Beat" cover models in a game of poker. Fitzgerald deserves some respect for what he’s done for the Cardinals organization — and the best thing they can do is set him free.
It makes sense for the rebuilding Cardinals to want to keep other good players like Patrick Peterson, but Fitzgerald is coming to the end of his career — and he deserves one last chance to get that ring which barely eluded him in Super Bowl XLIII. And selfishly, we need some spiciness at the trade deadline, too.
Now, I’ll be real with you: The deadline has become a lot hotter in recent years. But it’s still like upgrading from an ice bath to tepid baby bathwater. We need to get this thing boiling! How about a trade involving a future first-ballot Hall of Famer? That’s the kind of move that will have you rushing into the Tempe Portillo’s and screaming, "I can’t believe they are trading Larry Fitz!"
I’ve identified five teams that would make the most sense to get in on this action:
Green Bay Packers
I hate that I keep giving the Packers all of these great ideas to help actually deliver a ‘ship to Title Town. I mean, Le’Veon Bell would make the most sense, but Fitzgerald would do a lot of good here, too. Davante Adams is a monster out there, a legit WR1 — but give him some help. The B-squad of receivers is lacking by comparison, including guys like Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. That’s the Scott Norton, Buff Bagwell and Vincent of pass catchers. But again, we’re talking about the Packers here. Maybe you should trade Adams to the Browns or something. That would be awesome.
Oh my gosh: The Redskins are leading the NFC East right now! And while this is the NFL divisional version of a safety school, the last team to win the East did go on to win the Super Bowl, so … trends! And Washington has a really good chance to stay atop the division, too. While currently sporting a two-game lead in the loss column over the world champions, the Redskins’ remaining opponents have the lowest combined winning percentage of any team’s remaining opponents. Only one of the team’s remaining foes currently owns a winning record, and that’s the 4-3 Texans, who have to visit FedExField in Week 11.
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The Redskins currently rank 26th in passing offense. The team’s most-targeted pass catchers are TE Jordan Reed and RB Chris Thompson. Fitzgerald would bring instant credibility. I just feel like Larry Fitzgerald and Alex Smith would be best friends. Like they would be the kind of guys who would wear Travis Mathew clothing and hit the links together on off days.
Not only would Fitzgerald join his former teammate John Brown in Charm City, but he’d be following the legacy of another former Cardinals wideout who joined the Ravens: Anquan Boldin, who, by the way, won a Super Bowl in Baltimore. And this wouldn’t be the first time a future Hall of Fame receiver joined the team, either, as Steve Smith Sr. had some great years with the Ravens.
Obviously, Baltimore’s receiver room is already stacked with veterans, as the team paid out for Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead earlier this year. And no disrespect to Snead, who leads the Ravens with 186 routes run out of the slot (tight end Mark Andrews is second with 80), but let’s be serious for a moment: If you get a chance to upgrade from Snead to Fitz, you have to do it. And I don’t mean this in a bad way for Snead. I mean, if they have me booked at the Brea Improv and Bill Burr shows up, I understand getting bounced from my slot. That’s showbiz. So, Snead is fine … but a receiving corps of Brown, Crabs and Fitz looks like a Super Bowl contender.
I’m probably breaking news to you here: Fitzgerald was once the ball boy for the Vikings! I know, they never talk about this. And so, while we pointed out just above that Fitzgerald could be the slot receiver for the Ravens, the Vikings have a slot guy who might be the best in the game: Adam Thielen. (I didn’t want you to have to go look that up.) But Fitzgerald could still play out wide and take over for Laquon Treadwell/Aldrick Robinson. Now in fairness, Treadwell hasn’t been horrible in 2018, as he has a catch rate higher than Stefon Diggs (68.8 percent to 65.8 percent). And Robinson has scored some touchdowns. But again, when you look at potential matchups with the Rams and Saints down the road in the playoffs, you want to be as absolutely loaded as possible. It might seem more like a fantasy team to have Thielen, Diggs and Fitzgerald, but Minnesota already went to the trouble of getting Kirk Cousins. Let’s complete the journey.
This would be my favorite landing spot for Fitz, if I’m being perfectly honest with you. Despite their 3-4 record, the Eagles still have the talent to make another run at the title. Howie Roseman also isn’t afraid to pull the trigger to make his team better. The move for Jay Ajayi came out of nowhere last year, and it paid off handsomely. Well, if you consider winning a Super Bowl a handsome return. A deal for Fitzgerald would produce the same kind of shockwaves — and could be even bigger. And our own Mike Silver reported that the Eagles offered a second-round pick for Amari Cooper, so there’s a hunger to upgrade the position. The Eagles currently has Nelson Agholor as their route leader from the slot (with tight end Zach Ertz immediately behind him). But again, we’re upgrading with Fitz here. Though it would be weird to see him in something other than his familiar No. 11.
Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.
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