FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Rookie receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals agreed Monday to a six-year contract that could be worth up to $60
million. About $20 million is guaranteed, said a source close to the negotiations, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Fitzgerald, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, missed Monday morning's practice but was expected for the afternoon half of the first two-a-days of
"He always expressed the desire to be out there," said Fitzgerald's agent, Eugene Parker. "But he also recognized that there is a business side of it.
Larry was very patient, but now he's very excited and ready to get going."
The agreement came four days after quarterback Eli Manning and offensive lineman Robert Gallery, the only players drafted ahead of Fitzgerald in
April, signed with their teams. Manning received a $20 million signing bonus from the New York Giants.
The Cardinals have been notorious for stingy negotiating that kept many top picks from reporting on time, but Parker, who also represents Cardinals
running back Emmitt Smith, believes things have changed under football operations vice president Rod Graves.
"Give them credit," Parker said. "They stepped up and negotiated. They were motivated, we were motivated, and even though things could be a little
adversarial at times, the focus stayed on what was important: getting him there on time."
Fitzgerald, a former ball boy for Minnesota when new Cardinals coach Dennis Green was coaching the Vikings, left the University of Pittsburgh after
his sophomore year. In just 26 college games, he managed to rank first in Pitt history in touchdown catches (34), third in receptions (161), and
fourth in yards receiving (2,677).
He was eligible for the draft because he attended a year of prep school between high school and college.
The 6-foot-2, 223-pound Fitzgerald, considered one of the most physical and gifted receivers to come out of college in years, was the player Green
wanted from the time the coach agreed to join the Cardinals in January.
The Cardinals were criticized for passing up the quarterbacks available, but Green never wavered about making Josh McCown, who has started three times
in his 10-game career, his quarterback. That freed up the team to pick Fitzgerald.
The addition of Fitzgerald gives the Cardinals potentially one of the NFL's best corps of receivers.
The star is Anquan Boldin, last year's Offensive Rookie of the Year and the only rookie selected for the Pro Bowl. Green is also counting on Bryant
Johnson, last year's first-round selection, to improve on his rookie numbers of 35 catches and 438 yards.
Johnson got a stress fracture in his right foot during summer workouts and is about four weeks away from going full speed, but he plans to be in the
"We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and we definitely want to use them," he said.