How will the dominos fall after Fitz?

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:51 AM ET

TORONTO - The fictitious Arizona Cardinals showed star wide receiver Rod Tidwell the money in Jerry Maguire and now the real team has done the same to Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald signed an eight-year contract worth up to $120 million US late Saturday, becoming the highest-paid receiver in the NFL and fifth-highest paid player overall.

Fitzgerald will get almost $50 million guaranteed and could stay in Arizona until 2018.

Only four quarterbacks make more than the $15 million Fitzgerald and Oakland’s Richard Seymour average.

Fitzgerald helped lead perennially lousy Arizona to Super Bowl XLIII, but the team came up short, despite his setting of several playoff receiving records.

Just 28, Fitzgerald’s 76 receiving yards per game is the fourth-best average ever.

Arizona now has the tandem it wants to spark the offence, Fitzgerald and new quarterback Kevin Kolb, signed long-term. Fitzgerald urged the team to pursue Kolb after the Cardinals struggled mightily without the retired Kurt Warner.

It will be interesting to see how the deal impacts other top wide receivers.

A new bar has been set — far above Steve Smith $10.9 million a season — and even if the other elite receivers aren’t quite as good as Fitzgerald, they will want to be paid as if they are.

That might even extend to other positions too, since Tennessee back Chris Johnson wants a new deal that will put him in the same stratosphere as Fitzgerald, Seymour and the other top earners.

SPEAKING OF CJ2K

Johnson’s standoff continues with little progress.

Tennessee GM Mike Reinfeldt says the two sides are nowhere close.

“We’ve discussed parameters. If we can’t agree on the parameters, there’s no sense making offers,” Reinfeldt told The Tennessean.

“If your parameters are different ... and if you are talking a different language, then you are wasting your time.”

Now owner Bud Adams has chimed in with even stronger comments.

“I’m not gonna make any offer with the way he’s acting. Life’s too short,” Adams told titansinsider.com.

Doesn’t sound promising. As we’ve been saying for a while, this one won’t be resolved anytime soon.

Even a deal by Week 1 seems optimistic at this point.

QUICK HITS

Peyton Manning probably is going to have to miss the first game of the regular season. That would end his steak of 227 straight starts. He has started every regular season and playoff game for the Colts since 1998 ... Cam Newton will start for Carolina against Cincinnati on Thursday night. That doesn’t mean the No. 1 overall selection has won the job over Jimmy Clausen. Neither has been great so far in the pre-season, but Newton will play three quarters and it would be a shock if he doesn’t win the job in the end ... Police are still looking for suspects after shots were fired, injuring two men, following Saturday’s San Francisco-Oakland game ... Cleveland tight end Evan Moore was held out of practice because of a concussion sustained on Friday against Detroit. Wide receiver Josh Cribbs couldn’t practise either due to a hamstring injury ... Denver safety David Bruton was hospitalized after suffering a head injury during a game on Saturday night ... Another Broncos safety, Rahim Moore, injured Buffalo’s Donald Jones in the same game, but said the hit was clean. “I didn’t even know I was flagged until I ran to the sideline,” Moore said. “If it was the wrong thing to do, I apologize, but at the end of the day, I mean no harm to nobody.” ... Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell, kneed in the head while taking on the 49ers, has undergone concussion tests ... Chargers WR Malcolm Floyd left Sunday night’s game against Dallas with a concussion.

GORE-Y DETAILS

Chris Johnson isn’t the only unhappy marquee running back.

But unlike Johnson, 49ers’ Frank Gore, isn’t likely to get the big payday he is after. According to Profootballtalk.com the talks are “volatile” and a trade request is a possibility.

Gore will make $4.9 million US in the last year of his deal and wants what Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams got — more than $20 million guaranteed — but the Niners don’t want to give the 28-year-old a long-term deal.

Gore is very good when he plays and has played through pain while carrying the offence. But the Niners aren’t likely to budge.

Running backs — even good ones — are expendable and it’s hard to see Gore cashing in on a lengthy extension.

Gore missed time hurt last season, rushing for just 853 yards and three touchdowns.

Plus the team gave him a shiny new deal back in 2007 when he was still on his rookie contract, paying him more than they had to.

Things like that are never forgotten in pro sports — at least by the team that doled out the cash, that is.

With Kendall Hunter looking like a decent prospect, Gore’s days in San Francisco could well be numbered, though head coach Jim Harbaugh said he thinks the team will re-sign the veteran.

TEBOW'S TIME WILL COME

Tim Tebow has gone from the sure starter in Denver to a possible third-stringer, but some still believe he will take over at quarterback at some point this season.

Kyle Orton was supposed to be traded to Miami, or elsewhere, but discussions fell through and he has responded with a good training camp.

Meanwhile, Brady Quinn, who came into the league with a bit of the same hype that Tebow did, seems to be making a good case for the Broncos’ backup QB job.

But Woody Paige of the Denver Post believes Tebow will get his chance to direct the team on Dec. 11 when the former star of Denver’s ongoing quarterback soap opera Jay Cutler returns with the Chicago Bears.

Paige believes the Broncos will be out of the playoff hunt by then and will need to give Tebow a chance to show what he can — or cannot — do.

Paige nearly predicted when Tebow would get a chance to start last season, but was off by a week.

Interestingly, he points out that new head coach John Fox tends to go through quarterbacks at a pretty alarming rate. Last year, in Carolina, Fox had four different starters, and that was the case in 2007 as well.

So, it’s safe to say Tebow will get his turn. Given Fox’s history, it might even be sooner than December.

MARIO NOW A STANDUP KIND OF GUY

When Mario Williams was selected first overall by the Texans in 2006 over flashier names Reggie Bush and Vince Young, many Houston fans were up in arms.

But Super Mario has turned out to be the correct pick. Bush and Young aren’t even with the teams that drafted them anymore.

No slouch as a defensive end — he made the Pro Bowl, after all, playing that position — Williams now has a new role, outside linebacker.

By all accounts, the transition has not gone perfectly yet, but Williams is confident he’ll be able to make as big an impact on games as a linebacker as he did as a defensive end and he almost came away with an interception on Saturday against New Orleans.

Williams also recovered a fumble.

“It’s something that’s completely new for me. I never had to worry about standing up before,” Williams told the Houston Chronicle of learning to not start plays in a three-point stance.

“Over time, it’s going to become more second nature for me. I didn’t realize it was going to be this different.”

Most importantly, Williams is buying into the switch, which was orchestrated by Houston’s new defensive co-ordinator Wade Phillips.

“With the scheme coach Phillips has for us, the sky’s going to be the limit,” he said.

DOESN'T TAKE MUCH, DOES IT, C.J.?

The hype around C.J. Spiller was huge a year ago. The dynamic back was supposed to ignite the Buffalo Bills’ offence, but that didn’t come to pass.

Spiller didn’t inspire much awe as a rookie and hasn’t done a whole lot during this pre-season, but it appears the Bills have seen enough to consider him their No. 1 running back.

Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reported prior to Saturday’s game against Denver: “Hearing more and more Bills top RB job is C.J. Spiller’s to lose, not Fred Jackson’s.”

Spiller responded by rushing for just 10 yards on six carries against the Broncos, but head coach Chan Gailey praised him afterwards.

“I thought C.J. did a couple of nice things there,” Gailey told reporters. “He hit some runs, hit some creases ... We wanted to look at him tonight to see where he’s made progress and I thought he did make progress. That was a positive.”

Still, it seems a bit like the Bills are force-feeding Spiller into the starting role.

Jackson has been excellent the past two seasons and appears to be losing his grip on the No. 1 job only because Spiller is younger and the sexier name. Players respect their teammates when they earn jobs, not when they are handed them.

Buffalo’s management is making a bit of a dicey gamble here.

PRYOR POSITIONING HIMSELF

Terrelle Pryor is about to find out where his new home will be.

Pryor’s destination will be revealed on Monday at the NFL’s supplemental draft.

The former Ohio State star worked out for 17 teams on Saturday and his former coach Jim Tressel said he “did great. He would help lots of teams.”

But at what position? A quarterback with the Buckeyes where he set records with his rushing ability, there is a lot of speculation that the 6-foot-5 Pryor could be converted into a wide receiver or, possibly, a tight end.

Pryor said he is fine with the five-game suspension handed to him by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for violations he committed while in college.

Will a team pick him up though knowing he can’t even practise with his new teammates until well into the fall?

There had been speculation Pryor would appeal the ban, but he said he would not and added that it was his dream to play in the NFL as a quarterback.

He has displayed NFL-level mobility and arm strength but his new team might shift him elsewhere regardless.


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