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Cardinals' focus now shifts to Boldin

Arizona pulled off a mega trade Tuesday. The Cardinals traded one set of wide-receiver issues for another.

After awarding wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with a four-year, $40 million extension that includes $30 million in guaranteed money, the Cardinals' salary spotlight shifted instantly to wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who is scheduled to be paid considerably less than his receiving counterpart.

Last season, the Cardinals offered Boldin a contract extension, and here's the key fact to consider: Boldin told them he wanted to wait for Fitzgerald to finalize his new deal. Now that he has, it dwarfs Boldin's, whose average annual salary is three to four times less than Fitzgerald's.

Boldin is scheduled to make $2.5 million in base salary this season, $2.75 million in base salary in 2009 and $3 million in base salary in 2010.

Yet, Fitzgerald did not sign a four-year, $22.75 million contract extension the way Boldin did back in July 2005, when he received $13.25 million in bonuses and salary in 2005-'06. Still ...

Whereas there were contract issues in recent weeks regarding Fitzgerald, who became the subject of trade inquiries from other wide-receiver-needy teams, there now are expected to be contract issues regarding Boldin, who is bound to become the subject of trade inquiries from other wide-receiver-needy teams.

Philadelphia, Washington and Dallas have explored the possibility of acquiring a big-name wide receiver, only to find that there aren't any readily available. Now those teams could wind up exploring Boldin's availability.

Boldin's decision will be whether or not to approach the Cardinals for an extension. His agent is the deal-making Drew Rosenhaus. It will be up to Rosenhaus to plot the best course of action for the 27-year-old Boldin. But his numbers compare favorably to Fitzgerald's, and many within the Cardinals organization consider Boldin to be the better receiver.

Boldin has been voted to two Pro Bowls; Fitzgerald has been voted to two Pro Bowls.

Boldin has 413 catches for 5,458 yards and 29 touchdowns; Fitzgerald has 330 catches for 4,544 yards and 34 touchdowns.

Both are an integral part of the Cardinals' young and improving offense. But it could be difficult to pay both.

The fine print

Not only does the 24-year-old Fitzgerald cash in now, but he is bound to cash in later, once his current deal expires.

Fitzgerald's new deal contains a clause stating that, if the Cardinals franchise him at the end of the new contract in 2012, it will have to be done to the tune of $23 million for that season.

But the Cardinals also benefitted from Fitzgerald's new deal. It will save Arizona $8 million against the salary cap this off-season, money it now can use to sign second tier free agents.

It's the Law

Once again, the New York Jets are courting free-agent cornerback Ty Law.

Once again, the New England Patriots are interested in resigning Law.

And once again, there is an issue between the Jets and Patriots.

While New England coach Bill Belichick has been in contact with Law this offseason, the Jets arranged for the former Pro Bowl cornerback to visit New York on Wednesday.

It is the first and surest sign that the market on Law is heating up. The 34-year-old Law, who started his NFL career in 1995 with the Patriots, would like to get one final multi-year deal. Now it's looking like he could have two options.

In New York, he would get the chance to continue mentoring his close friend, Darrelle Revis, the Jets former first-round pick. The two both grew up in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, and have become close.

In New England, he would step right into a system he well knows for a team that could use some help at defensive back. This off-season, the Patriots have lost cornerback Asante Samuel and face the prospect of losing defensive back Eugene Wilson.

Extra points

» With the running back market drying up quick, Houston has arranged for Tennessee free-agent running back Chris Brown to visit on Wednesday. Brown was a free agent last year and wound up re-signing with the Titans.

» A short time after cutting ties with the quarterback, Atlanta re-signed veteran quarterback Joey Harrington to a one-year, $1 million deal.

» Carolina cut veteran center Justin Hartwig.

» The New York Jets cut running back Cedric Houston, and also hosted a visit with free-agent defensive back Donald Strickland.

» Cleveland officially signed restricted free-agent quarterback Derek Anderson on Tuesday, as well as former Miami free-agent guard Rex Hadnot.

» Former Washington free-agent quarterback Mark Brunell visited the New Orleans Saints.

» The Dolphins reached agreement with free-agent kicker Dave Rayner on a one-year deal. Rayner now will challenge incumbent kicker Jay Feeley for the Dolphins' kicking job. Keep in mind: though Feeley connected on 21-of-23 field goals last season, he was last in the NFL on kickoffs, averaging just 57 yards per kickoff. And Bill Parcells, the Dolphins' grand football executive, values field position.

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