For the first time since 2003, the Arizona Cardinals will enter a regular season without Larry Fitzgerald, as the future Hall of Fame receiver and unrestricted free agent recently admitted that he "doesn't have the urge to play right now."
But the 38-year-old Fitzgerald hasn't formally announced his retirement from the NFL. And since it's still possible for him to make a late-season comeback or rejoin the team in 2022, Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden isn't ready to close the door on Fitzgerald's career.
"Everybody has said they still don't believe it yet because he hasn't made it official. So, I'm going to stick with that," Golden told the Tiki and Tierney show on Wednesday. "But we're going to miss Larry because he's the GOAT. He's one of the greatest players in the league, but the greatest Cardinal ever. I've got a lot of respect for Larry. I came into my rookie year with him, learned a lot from him. I do a lot of stuff today that's he taught me, taking care of my body and being a leader.
"And leading by example. That's what we're going to miss -- he leads by example. And even though he's a big-time superstar player, he's always got open arms for everybody and always wants to help people out. Of course we're going to miss Larry, no matter what. But at the same time, you want him to do whatever makes him happy, because I feel like he's deserved it and he's earned it."
If Fitzgerald ultimately decides to hang up the cleats, he'll walk away as one of the greatest receivers in NFL history. In 17 seasons, the 11-time Pro Bowler has compiled 17,492 receiving yards -- the second-most all-time -- along with 1,432 receptions and 121 touchdowns. In July, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters that the organization would welcome back Fitzgerald, and the "ball's in his court."
Arizona will open the 2021 campaign on the road against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 12. According to the William Hill Sportsbook, the Cardinals currently have the worst odds (+575) to win the NFC West and the seventh-best odds (+2000) to win the conference.
The entire Cardinals conversation between Golden and Tiki and Tierney can be accessed in the audio player above.