Will Larry Fitzgerald retire in 2021? Looking back on his 17-year career

One of the all-time great NFL players and an even better man, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald’s playing days are numbered, and there is a chance we see him retire this offseason. Will Larry Fitzgerald retire in 2021 and if so, has he done enough over his career to be a Hall of Famer?

Will Larry Fitzgerald retire in 2021?

It seems this has been a recurring topic in recent years. After all, Father Time is undefeated. It catches up to all of us, especially those who take a beating eight months a year.

Drafted in 2004, Fitzgerald has turned into the NFL’s Iron Man. Of his draft class, only him, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Andy Lee played in 2020. However, it is hard to place these players in the same box as Rivers just retired, Ben is on the brink, and Lee is a punter and they barely count. Sorry, Pat McAfee.

The question has been on everyone’s mind — Larry Fitzgerald is one of those players who you can’t imagine not being on the sidelines. Even at his recent time at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Larry Fitzgerald was asked about his plans and if retirement was in the cards. He said he has “no timeline” and is “just taking it day by day.”

“I’m just focused on the next hole and just figuring out how to get this golf game right. That’s all I’m worried about right now,” he said, via Cameron Cox of KPNX Arizona. “Everything will take care of itself.”

Back in 2018, Fitzgerald stated he would only play for the Cardinals, and there has been nothing to suggest otherwise. So long as Larry Fitzgerald does not retire and wants to come back, the Cardinals would likely happily take him back for another year.

If Larry Fitzgerald does retire, his final season made him look mortal

All it took was 16 previous seasons, a global health crisis, and the addition of one of the best receivers of this generation for it to happen finally.

Fitzgerald, 37, finished 2020 with 54 catches for 409 yards and a touchdown, all career-lows. He missed two games after testing positive and the Week 17 game against the Rams with a groin injury. After 16 straight seasons of 100 or more targets, Fitzgerald’s 72 was the first time in his career he was below the century mark.

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He played the 2020 season on a one-year, $11 million contract, leading us to speculate on his future. For someone as competitive as Larry Fitzgerald, choosing to retire or give it one more go will be the most difficult choice yet. However, it’s hard to find anyone else in sports with the potential of a brighter future outside the game than him.

Is Fitzgerald a future Hall of Famer?

For me, I think there is no question Larry Fitzgerald is a Hall of Famer if he retired today. Having played 17 seasons, Fitzgerald is one of the best to ever lace up a pair of cleats. 

Fitzgerald has the second-most receptions in NFL history with 1,432 — that’s behind only Rice (1,549). He is also second all-time in receiving yards, with 17,492 — once again behind Rice by over 5,000 yards. Fitzgerald is also sixth all-time in receiving touchdowns (121), behind five Hall of Famers: Rice, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Cris Carter, and Marvin Harrison. He would need 56 more touchdowns to tie the number one spot with, you guessed it, Jerry Rice.

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Fitzgerald spent his entire career with the Cardinals. During his career, he went to 11 Pro Bowls and won the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year award. He has also been as reliable as it comes on game day. In 13 of his 17 seasons, he played all 16 games, and he never played fewer than 13 in a season. If Larry Fitzgerald does choose to retire, his résumé speaks for itself.

Fitzgerald’s performance in the 2008 NFL Playoffs was off the charts

While Larry Fitzgerald never captured Super Bowl glory, it wasn’t that he didn’t produce in big games. During their Super Bowl run in 2008, he was an integral part of their success.

Fitzgerald caught 6 passes for 101 yards and a score in their Wild Card game against the Atlanta Falcons. Then, he went for 8 catches, 166 yards, and another touchdown versus the Carolina Panthers. In the NFC Championship Game, Larry Fitzgerald caught 9 passes for 152 and 3 touchdowns. In the Super Bowl, he had 7 catches for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 64-yard TD gave them the lead late in the 4th quarter.

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Between longevity and consistency at the highest level, when Larry Fitzgerald decides to retire and hang them up, start the timer for his enshrinement. 

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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