If you're a despised sports figure in Phoenix, a transient city that doesn't always exude passion for its teams, you've really done something wrong. And yet, if there were a scale of admiration for Arizona sports fans, it would range from Steve Keim to Larry Fitzgerald. Keim being least, Fitzgerald being most. That's why I think that even if Keim didn't want to bring Fitzgerald back for just over $11 million in 2020, it wouldn't be his decision to make. After a myriad of missed 1st-round picks and recent turmoil, Keim's now in the business of image mending, and bungling the send off of Arizona's finest could earn him a one way ticket to ZipRecruiter.
Think about how Keim's operated in the past. Markus Golden, Calais Campbell, Tyrann Mathieu and John Brown were all told to pack their bags early, as Steve Keim figured he could go younger, cheaper and more sustainable at their respective positions. Whether that strategy has worked is besides the point. It's been his strategy. Yet, when it comes to a wide receiver who will be 37 entering next season, Keim has been ready and willing to draw up the next contract. Keim, by the way, is acutely aware that cap space, not coaching or quarterback play, is the Cardinals biggest advantage over its division rivals while Kyler Murray is on his rookie deal. So, on the surface Keim's eagerness to bring back Fitzgerald is a bit odd, but dig deeper, and it makes every bit of sense.
4 out of Keim's 7 1st-round picks are not currently on the Cardinals roster. He whiffed on Josh Rosen and Steve Wilks just two off-seasons ago. There was the extreme DUI. There were the Suggs and Swearinger signings and releases this year. There's the David Johnson albatross. And even after Keim had the stones to admit his mistake on Rosen and pick Kyler Murray, something most GMs would never do, Keim is the most persecuted figure in Arizona sports. He should hire Paul DePodesta's PR manager. Or, he should welcome back Larry Fitzgerald with open arms, without a second of speculation or hesitation, with a big, jolly smile on his face.
And that's exactly what he'll do. Is it the most frugal move, during an offseason when Emmanuel Sanders and A.J. Green will earn very similar contracts, years younger? Maybe not. Is it absolutely worth it for Steve Keim to attach himself to the proper send off of Arizona's most beloved sports figure. Of course. This one's obvious.