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Larry Fitzgerald will return for another NFL season because ‘the fire still burns’

The Cardinals receiver is holding off retirement after another excellent season.

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will stick around with the Cardinals for his 14th NFL season, as reported by ESPN’s Jim Trotter and confirmed by the Cardinals’ website. He was mulling retirement after the 2016 season, along with quarterback Carson Palmer, but Fitzgerald ultimately decided to play another year.

This is undoubtedly good news for head coach Bruce Arians, who was crossing his fingers about Fitzgerald returning.

Fitzgerald spoke about his decision to return on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football program on Friday.

“After the season, mentally, physically, you’re exasperated,” Fitzgerald said. “You’re drained from just getting tackled and practices and then just not having the season that you set out to have. It was all cumulatively just tough to deal with.

“But after a month of getting my mind ready, and watching the games, also, the fire still burns.”

Fitzgerald has spent his entire career with the team that drafted him. He was selected by the Cardinals out of Pitt with the third overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, and since that time has been one of the most reliable receivers in the game.

Over his career, Fitzgerald has averaged 1,107 yards and eight touchdowns per season. Over that span, he’s missed just six games due to injury. Despite turning 33 prior to the season, Fitzgerald hasn’t declined a bit. This season, he led the NFL in receptions with 107 and posted 1,023 yards and six touchdowns.

Fitzgerald has been named to the Pro Bowl 10 times, including the 2016 season. He was a first-team All-Pro in 2008, and was named second-team All-Pro in 2009 and 2011.

The Cardinals, and Fitzgerald, entered the 2016 season with high hopes of exceeding what the team accomplished in 2015. That season, Arizona finished with a 13-3 record and made it all the way to the NFC Championship, but lost a 49-15 heartbreaker to the Carolina Panthers.

Prior to the season, Arizona signed Fitzgerald and quarterback Carson Palmer to one-year extensions. Palmer and Fitzgerald’s respective ages meant there was a narrow window to win it all.

This season didn’t go according to plan, though. The Cardinals finished 7-8-1 and missed the playoffs altogether.

Fitzgerald hinted that he might look toward retirement after the Cardinals’ Week 15 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

“I got two more games to go (this season),” Fitzgerald told Kyle Odegard of the team’s website. “I will play those games as hard as I can against two division opponents and we will see what goes on this offseason. My attention is solely focused on Seattle this Saturday.”

The Cardinals finished the season strong, winning their final two contests against the Seahawks and the Rams. Fitzgerald showed that he’s still got it with this touchdown in Arizona’s Week 17 44-6 win over Los Angeles.

After the conclusion of the regular season, Cardinals wide receiver Brittan Golden said he thought Fitzgerald still had one more year in him.

"I think he's staying," Golden said via ABC 15. "I think he's got one more in him. I hope he's got one more in him."

And Fitzgerald obviously agrees. He’ll hit the field with his Cardinals teammates for one more season in 2017.