This is a little awkward since we’ve done this whole contract dance a couple of times now. I’m not blaming you- the NFL is a business and you should get the maximum benefit out of your career. Note that I used the word “benefit,” not salary. Let’s take a look back.
When the Cardinals first drafted you in 2004, they made a pretty big mistake. The last two years of your contract had huge incentives, all of which you reached. After the 2007 season, we were on the books to pay you $32 million for the next two years combined. That’s not only starting QB money, that’s multiple pro-bowl, franchise QB money. It was dumb and cheap on the Cardinals part to put in huge incentives to sign you, but it worked out well for you. So instead of the $32 million over two years they were supposed to pay you, you took a pay-cut to help us out- something Cardinals fans will always appreciate. $40 million for 4 years (expiring after this next season), with a no-trade clause and a no-franchise tag clause. This led to the two best seasons in Cardinals history, culminating in a near Superbowl win (I spent the last ten minutes wanting to throw up while remembering the last two minutes of that game, second by second) and a second round exit to the Saints the year after- more playoff success in two years than the Cardinals had ever had.
That leads us to this year. The Cardinals started negotiating with you in January, but had no luck before the lockout started. There are a lot of rumors why. Some say you want an annual salary of $18 million. That’s a staggering number for any player, much less a receiver. Other reports say you want to wait until the Cardinals QB situation pans out a bit- a smart move, since your future success depends on the QB (compare how unstoppable you looked with Kurt Warner vs. Derek Anderson).
Listen Larry, I get it. You want to make money, you want to be successful. To do this, you need a good contract and a good QB leading your offense. I know the $18 million a year report isn’t true. You want to win too badly and there’s no way the Cardinals can sign good free agents if they’re paying you that much. By asking for 18, you’ll get 12-15. Cardinals fans shouldn’t worry- with roster bonuses and signing bonuses, you’re cap figure won’t actually be that high.
The real matter is whether you want to stay with the Cardinals. Again, I get it. In the 2008 playoffs you looked unstoppable. You set receiving records in the playoffs that year, were heralded as the consensus number one receiver, and made the cover of Madden. Last year you looked… well, let’s just say you didn’t look good (nobody can look good with Derek Anderson as their QB). The thing is, these aren’t your father’s Cardinals. They’re actually spending money on players (look at Darnell Docket and Adrian Wilson). If you do sign with them, be confident they’ll get you a QB. It would be a bad business decision otherwise. Last year was unfortunate since Leinart was never Whiz’s guy and they didn’t have time to get better options. So have a little faith. Whizenhunt and Graves will find you a good QB, and you’ll be the best receiver in the league again.
This brings me back to my original point. Remember when I said get the most benefit out of your career, not the most money? You stay in Arizona and you’ll be the hometown hero. Steve Nash is getting older, and he won’t be around forever. Most Arizona residents couldn’t name a player on the Diamondbacks. More than Adrian Wilson, more than Darnell Docket, you’re the face of the franchise, and you may be for the rest of your life. If you bring a Superbowl ring to the desert, you’ll never be forgotten, you’ll never be criticized. So stay with the Cardinals, have a little faith that we’ll sign a good QB, and be a hero for the rest of your life.
P.S. You can ignore all of this if the Cardinals bring back Derek Anderson as their starting QB. If they do that, then fuck them.