Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is competing with Aaron Rodgers on who can have the most chaotic offseason. However, what has Murray done to hold such leverage? He has no playoff victories and has a 22-23-1 record as the starter. He’s no better, if not worse, than Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson, who are also in line for a contract extension despite playing one more year than Murray. How did we get here? How should the Cardinals approach the situation? Will the decision have potential ramifications for the rest of the NFL?
Unraveling Kyler Murray’s Chaotic Offseason
Kyler Murray‘s College Years
This isn’t anything new. Murray transferred from Texas A&M to Oklahoma because of something similar.
“Uncertainty with the direction of Texas A&M’s offense, the future of the offensive coaching staff, trust issues between the quarterback’s coach and how the quarterbacks were utilized were among the concerns…” said senior national recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton.
Was he concerned about how he was utilized or was he afraid of facing adversity? Playing with the likes of talented receivers Ricky Seals-Jones and Christian Kirk, Murray completed less than 60% of his passes and threw five touchdowns with seven interceptions in his eight games as a freshman. Not very impressive.
He resurrected his career by going to Oklahoma. He dominated his junior year throwing 42 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. However, his worst game happened to be the Orange Bowl against Alabama where he had his lowest passer rating and completion percentage for the 2018 season. He was building something special but couldn’t deliver in the big game. Then he was ready to leave and begin a new chapter. Sound familiar?
Evaluating His Statement
Kyler Murray’s agent Erik Burkhardt wrote a detailed statement of Murray’s demands and why he deserves an extension after his three years in the NFL.
“Kyler was tasked with stepping into a tough situation,” said Burkhardt.
The front office could rebuttal arguing that so was Mayfield, who was drafted to the Cleveland Browns. They were 0-16 the year before he was drafted, and their last playoff win was in 1994 until he led them to victory in the 2020 Wild Card Round against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals ended a 31-year drought thanks to his inspiring performances that took them to the Super Bowl. These are simply the expectations that come with being a number one overall pick.
“Actions speak louder than words,” says Burkhardt ironically after writing a nearly 500-word article defending his client.
NFL Films producer and game film analyst Greg Cosell looked at those “actions”. After breaking down the film of Murray since 2019, he has not been impressed.
“He’s essentially the same player he was as a rookie, based on tape study,” said Cosell.
Once again, not a good look from someone who is attempting to play hardball.
“He desperately wants to win the Super Bowl…He has delivered and exceeded all reasonable expectations along the way…followed by back-to-back pro bowls…” also says, Burkhardt.
You could probably ask anyone inspiring to play in the NFL and they too would also want to win the Super Bowl. As for the Pro Bowl, it has become more of a participation trophy than an accomplishment. Derek Anderson made a Pro Bowl appearance in 2007 and then became a full-time backup three years later.
Simply put, we need more on Murray’s resume. Don’t just exceed reasonable expectations, go further and do the unthinkable. Don’t be complacent with Pro Bowls, get to a Super Bowl. Furthermore, don’t have your agent tell us your accolades. Leave it up to the media and the organization because actions indeed speak louder than words.
The only positive to come out of an extension is Burrow, Jackson, and Justin Herbert will reset the market within the next two years making Murray even more expensive. However, if the Cardinals give in to Murray’s demands, the rest of the NFL will be on notice.
It’s a copycat league. Other younger quarterbacks will attempt to use a similar approach as Murray and expect to get their way via social media rather than conducting business internally. That can’t resonate well with the rest of their teammates. Is their quarterback truly committed to the team or the clicks and views from the media? Does their quarterback want to win or want money? This could cause a mass divide within multiple locker rooms that are now financially strapped to a player with an unproven track record. It’s not exactly a blueprint for success.
Murray is a great quarterback who is progressing at a normal rate. Tom Brady‘s retirement and the possibility of Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Jimmy Garoppolo moving to the AFC, the time for Murray to win and become one of the best quarterbacks in the league is now. However, his impatience may cost him that opportunity.
Expectations For Murray And The Cardinals
The Cardinals should wait one more year. They need to wait for Murray to succeed in the playoffs like his peers. He also needs to eliminate the durability concerns that fans have. Kirk, Chandler Jones, Chase Edmonds, Zach Ertz, and James Conner are all set to hit free agency. They enter the offseason with question marks at the guard, receiver, running back, and tight end position, yet the priority has been on the quarterback.
The Houston Texans did the same thing with their quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson became the second-highest-paid player in the NFL but was still displeased with the organization for not surrounding him with good talent or coaching. It becomes difficult when a player takes up more than 20% of the team’s entire cap space. If the Cardinals aren’t careful, they could tread similar waters.
Build around him, demand success next year, then give him a much-needed extension or trade him while he has value.