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During every off-season and at every trade deadline, fantasy-land NFL trades grab headlines as fans across the league drool over the idea of a superstar player being added to their team's roster. Larry Fitzgerald has often found himself the subject of these far-fetched scenarios.

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Earlier this week, Tom E. Curran of Comcast Sports Net reported that the Patriots had been interested in trading for Larry Fitzgerald last off-season, and supposedly inquired about that possibility.

Other notable Patriots reporters, including Herald writer Jeff Howe, have since challenged Curran's statement and attempted to ground overly-excited Patriots fans envisioning what would certainly be an explosive offensive tandem in Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald. According to Howe, the supposed "feelers" from New England to Arizona never actually occured, and an acquisition of Fitzgerald remains a highly unlikely scenario:

It's certainly conceivable the Patriots have had internal discussions about Fitzgerald, but any potential interest has remained in-house. The Patriots have never entered any real negotiations with the Cardinals for Fitzgerald -- this year, last year, any year -- according to a source.

Fitzgerald, who will turn 31 before the 2014 regular season, will likely always remain a dream-scenario trade target for the league's other 31 teams, so long as the Cardinals aren't a title contender.

Boston media is already getting carried away with the Fitzgerald rumors. Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti spent a decent block of time on their wildly popular afternoon radio show today debating whether or not they would trade Rob Gronkowski for Larry Fitzgerald in an epic NFL blockbuster trade.

Adding fuel to the fire are articles from writers like NESN.com's Doug Kyed insisting that the Patriots trading for Fitzgerald is not as outlandish a scenario as it may seem. Kyed cites salary cap implications as a central reason why Arizona may look to unload the elite receiver:

Trading Fitzgerald before the 2014 season is much more feasible, however. Fitzgerald is still owed $74.5 million and has shown a reluctance to restructure his contract. Trading Fitzgerald after the 2014 NFL year officially begins would save the Cardinals $8 million in cap room. The Patriots would have to take on $66.5 million owed to Fitzgerald, but with no guaranteed money left on the deal (since the Cardinals would have to pay out that money), the receiver might be far less reluctant to restructure. Failing to do so would leave Fitzgerald susceptible to being cut or traded again, since the Patriots wouldn’t be penalized for doing so.

The main problem here is that the Cardinals are on the verge of being contenders in the NFC. In coach Bruce Arians first year as the team's head coach, Arizona won ten games for the first time since 1977. With a promising new coach and talent on both sides of the ball, it seems unlikely that now would be a time for the team to unload their best offensive weapon.

But local writers like Kyed are not the only sources who have hinted Fitzgerald could be dealt this off-season. Respected NFL "Insider" Adam Schefter wrote back in October that a trade of Fitzgerald would be "in play" this off-season.

Of all the players in the NFL the Patriots could and should go after, Fitzgerald would probably be at the top of the list. Not only is he a top 5 receiver who would revitalize the struggling Patriots offense, but he is incredibly consistent and durable. Fitz has played 16 games in 8 out of his 10 NFL seasons. In the two seasons he didn't play every regular season game, he played in 15 (2007) and 13 (2006). During that span, he has reeled in 846 receptions for 11,367 yards and 87 touchdowns. All of this mostly spent with less-than-stellar quarterbacks, aside from Kurt Warner, who along with Fitzgerald led the Cardinals to the 2008 Super Bowl.

All that being said, in making a final assessment of these rumors, I am going to have to side with Jeff Howe and his stance that it is extremely unrealistic. I know that is not what Patriots fans want to hear right now, with images of Brady throwing deep balls to Matthew Slater still fresh in their heads, but it is the truth.

The Patriots are never ones to extend themselves for a player financially, regardless of skill level. Fitzgerald is a legitimate superstar in this league, and his compensation is commensurate with his ability and accomplishments. While there are few players in the league I would rather see in Foxborough than Fitz, I simply don't see the Patriots taking on that contract.

But there has never been a player or situation where I wanted them to prove me wrong more than this one. #GetFitz

@LiamPCunningham
@PatriotsLife

Unknown 1/29/2014 08:35:00 PM Edit
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