- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Rod Graves is the Arizona Cardinals' general manager.
Or is it Larry Fitzgerald?
Adam Schefter's report about the Cardinals soliciting Fitzgerald's opinion regarding the team's next quarterback promotes the perception that Arizona could be desperate to keep its best player beyond 2011, after which Fitzgerald's contract voids.
Keeping Fitzgerald could be tough unless the Cardinals become a playoff team again. Fitzgerald knows this. The Cardinals know this. Each side knows the other knows it.
According to Schefter, Fitzgerald identified Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb and Baltimore's Marc Bulger as his top choices at quarterback. Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would have been my choices, but Fitzgerald was obviously identifying quarterbacks more likely to be available.
I do not know the nature of the discussions between Fitzgerald and the team on the quarterback subject. Was it a casual conversation? Probably. Were the Cardinals planning to act based on his recommendation? Less likely. Either way, nothing good can come in the long term from Arizona soliciting players' input on personnel decisions, particularly if the information is going to become public.
There's usually a solid line between having a good feel for the locker room and letting players directly influence personnel decisions. That line presumably exists in Arizona independent of perceptions that might linger following Schefter's revelation.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt pays close attention to how his players respond to one another. The team arguably paid too close attention to players' feelings when it released projected starting quarterback Matt Leinart before last season. Whisenhunt indicated he thought the team wasn't responding well to Leinart. Players influenced that move, at least indirectly, more than raw talent influenced it.
In this latest case, everyone in the league knows Kolb ranks high on the list of potentially available quarterbacks. Everyone in the league knows the Cardinals have had interest in Bulger. The team didn't need to hear it from Fitzgerald to know these things were true.