Steelers should sign a future Hall of Fame wide receiver
By Tommy Jaggi
Larry Fitzgerald has had a remarkable career that will conclude in Canton one day. Here’s why the Steelers should sign him for one last hurrah.
Larry Fitzgerald has always been a player I wish the Steelers had. The former Pittsburgh Panthers star was the third overall pick all the way back in the 2004 NFL Draft, and he was destined for stardom.
Eighteen years later, Fitzgerald is the second-leading wide receiver in NFL history and is a lock to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer when his career is over with. In the same year, Fitzgerald was drafted, the Steelers got an even more important player. Pittsburgh selected Ben Roethlisberger with the 11th overall pick. The rest is history.
Larry Fitzgerald is a receiver who is impossible not to love. He comes to work every day and can never be caught complaining. Now, for the first time in 18 years, the 11-time Pro Bowler is a free agent, and he may not be returning to the Arizona Cardinals.
At nearly 38 years old, Fitzgerald is only a shade of his former self, but he has proven over the past few years that he is still plenty good enough to carve out a role on an offense. Over the past two seasons, Fitzgerald has still been able to catch 129 passes for 1,213 yards in Arizona, according to Pro Football Reference.
Though the Steelers aren’t hurting for depth at wide receiver, would Larry Fitzgerald give them an even better chance at a Super Bowl in 2021?
Larry Fitzgerald could be a reliable target for Steelers
Fitzgerald isn’t the same All-Pro player who nearly took Pittsburgh’s sixth Super Bowl win from them. However, the aging veteran still has something to offer.
The Steelers aren’t lacking depth when it comes to wide recevier. Though they may not have a legitimate number one option in the passing game at this point in time, they are four deep at the position with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington. Despite all of the depth here, Fitzgerald offers one thing in the receiving game the Steelers have been lacking: consistency.
Johnson is coming off a down year that included a league-leading 14 dropped passes. While Claypool had a very good rookie season, he also missed some big opportunities and Ben Roethlisberger had a hard time connecting with him down the field.
Fitzgerald no longer has the speed to get down the field, and he isn’t going to do a lot after the catch. However, he offers a terrific set of hands and savvy route running – enough to give Big Ben a security blanket in the middle of the field.
At this stage in his career, Larry Fitzgerald would be no higher than the 4th or 5th option in the passing game. Even then, there are a lot of mouths to feed. Additionally, if a slot option like JuJu Smith-Schuster or Eric Ebron were to get hurt, he could step right in without skipping a beat. The best part is, he could be had for a very cheap deal in his old age.
The Steelers may not need Larry Fitzgerald, and they do have plenty of options in the passing game. However, the future Hall of Fame receiver could be picked up for pennies at this point and he is still a reliable option over the middle of the field. You can never have too much depth in the last year of a Super Bowl window.