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Fitzgerald deal looks to be real, with two exceptions

Arizona Cardinals Training Camp

FLAGSTAFF, AZ - AUGUST 04: Wdie receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals participates in a blocking drill during the team training camp at Northern Arizona University on August 4, 2011 in Flagstaff, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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We’ve gotten our first look at the details of the contract signed by Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and the eight-year, $120 million contract apparently isn’t infected with any smoke and/or mirrors.

Per a source with knowledge of the numbers, Fitzgerald will make $20 million in 2011. Starting with a $15 million option bonus due on the first day of the 2012 league year, his two-year take will be $40.25 million, thanks to a base salary of $5 million and a $250,000 workout bonus.

In 2013, he’ll earn a mere $5.25 million. The numbers kick up again in 2014, with $13 million more coming to Fitzgerald. In 2015, he’ll make $16.25 million. In 2016, the earnings will be $15.25 million.

In each of the last two years, when he’ll be 34 and 35, respectively, Fitzgerald will make $15 million.

That said, there are a couple of caveats (apart from the fact that the Cardinals can walk away from the non-guaranteed salaries in the out years). First, while the guarantee has been reported as $50 million, the real number is only (only?) $45 million. Of that amount, $20 million is fully guaranteed (injury, skill, cap), and the other $25 million is guaranteed for injury only.

Also, the deal contains up to $8 million in de-escalators tied to Fitzgerald’s receptions in 2016 and 2017. If he’s under 80 in either season, some of the money rolls back to the Cardinals in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The highest amounts go away if he’s under 70.

Fitzgerald has had fewer than 70 receptions twice in his seven seasons. In his rookie year, he caught 58 passes. In 2006, injuries limited him to 13 games, and he caught 69 passes.

All in all, the deal is a great one. And with receivers struggling over the past three years to match Fitzgerald’s previous $10 million average on a long-term deal, the ceiling has now been pushed all the way to $15 million.