Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Fitzgerald, 35, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter he’s “taking some time to collect his thoughts” and that the Cards’ choice to hire the offensive-minded Kingsbury had no impact on his decision-making process.
The 11-time Pro Bowl selection is technically set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, but it’s unclear whether he’d even consider joining another team. He’s spent his entire 15-year career with the Cardinals since they grabbed him with the third overall pick in the 2004 draft.
Fitzgerald had a down year statistically, like almost every member of the Arizona roster during the team’s 3-13 season. He tallied 69 catches for 734 yards and six touchdowns, snapping a streak of three straight campaigns with at least 107 receptions.
The Cards hope the arrival of Kingsbury, improvement from quarterback Josh Rosen in his second year and the impact of whomever they select with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft will lead to a major turnaround next fall, though.
Fitzgerald has the potential to play a key role in that process if he decides to return.
“I’ll leave it to these guys who write the checks,” Kingsbury told reporters about Fitzgerald, per ESPN. “Like I said, what a great role model, what a great leader to have on your team, and I would be honored and love to work with him. He’s a guy that I’ve admired from afar for a long time, and I think we all hope that he’ll be back.”
The University of Pittsburgh product has never been overly reliant on speed to make plays on the outside, instead using his strength and route-running ability to create space. That’s allowed him to remain a threat well into his 30s.
If Fitzgerald decides to retire, he’ll leave a massive void heading into 2019, with Christian Kirk leading an inexperienced and unproven group of wideouts.
The two-time league leader in receptions didn’t provide Schefter with a timetable for his decision.