In the end, No. 11 just wasn't going to go out that way.
The future NFL Hall of Famer said as much on The Mina Kimes Show podcast, which was released on Wednesday.
"We had a really bad season last year and I just didn't want to go out on that level," Fitzgerald said on the podcast, via the Cardinals' team website. "You've got to live the rest of your life knowing you went out on that level."
While the defense certainly had its difficulties (ranked 20th in total yards), the offense never found a rhythm. The Cardinals finished dead last in total yards, passing yards and rushing yards to pull off a most dubious triple crown. Unable to put together a winning streak all season, the Cardinals began the year with four straight defeats and ended it in the same manner.
When the season of struggles concluded for Arizona, Fitzgerald's future was left in doubt, but in January, the all-time great wide receiver signed a one-year deal with the only franchise he's played for in the NFL.
"At the end of the year, I felt like this was not it," Fitzgerald said.
In his 15th NFL season, Fitzgerald put up 69 catches for 734 yards and six touchdown receptions. While all three led the wingless Cardinals, the yards were a career-low and the receptions were his lowest since his rookie season during the George W. Bush administration.
Still, the experience and leadership Fitzgerald applies are of huge value for a young team and while his prime is in the rear-view, he's still clearly got the skills and savvy to be a starting wideout.
"I still enjoy it and I can still play," said Fitzgerald, who hasn't missed a game or a start in four consecutive seasons. "I'm not the player that I was 10 years ago, but I can still go out there and contribute. I can make plays. I can be somebody who can situationally really help the team and make explosive plays for my group."
While the stability provided by Fitzgerald will remain for at least one more season, the Cardinals replaced coach Steve Wilks after just one season with Kliff Kingsbury, who boasts no NFL coaching experience. And following just one year as the Arizona starting signal-caller, 2018 NFL first-round draft pick Josh Rosen could be out too, if the Cardinals select Kyler Murray.
But as many are seemingly ready to usher Rosen out of the desert, Fitzgerald gave his teammate -- even if it's just been for one season -- a vote of confidence on the podcast.
"He's a great teammate. Really insightful. Just great to be around. And people like that usually find a way to be successful because they put the effort in," he said. "I think he's going to be just fine."
Thus, it would seem Fitzgerald wasn't about to hang up his cleats on such a sour note as the 2018 season proved to be. So he's back and standing tall, putting in the good word for his quarterback whether that's the buzz-worthy trend or not.