Arizona Cardinals fumble the Kyler Murray contract extension

Kyler Murray contract press conference

What a mess.

We knew that the Deshaun Watson contract with the Browns would reset the quarterback market. In the new NFL, with all the rules protecting quarterbacks, it’s now a quarterback league. Some may argue it has been for a long time, but the trend has accelerated dramatically with the new rules. Barring some serious luck, you need an elite quarterback to win.

Combine that with the growing salary cap and you’re going to see more and more monster contracts for NFL quarterbacks. This provides massive leverage to players, and we’re going to start seeing more NBA-style holdouts and trade demands. Quarterbacks are the stars.

But teams still have options, and do have leverage themselves, if they know how to use it. Apparently that concept is lost on the front office of the Arizona Cardinals, who gave Kyler Murray a monster deal with a reported $160 million guaranteed. But they did so with two years remaining on his rookie deal. Kyler Murray did everything he could to make them believe he might hold out, and the Cardinals blinked.

Of course they were in a tough spot. Murray is very talented, and like Lamar Jackson he’s a highlight reel as a quarterback. But he’s inconsistent and can be a mess as we saw in the playoffs. He’s young, and he can obviously improve, but he’s one of those very good but not elite QBs that put a franchise in no man’s land.

Then, of course, we heard about the “study time” provision in the contract that revealed what many suspected – that Murray doesn’t put in the necessary work. You have to be maniacally devoted to film study to be a great NFL quarterback. But Murray bragged about not needing to do that. He comes across as arrogant and entitled, and he’s also not a great leader on the field.

And this is who the Cardinals decided they had to break the bank to keep? Say what you want about teams like the Cleveland Browns, but they waited on paying Baker Mayfield, and then moved on when he had a disastrous season in 2021 after his shoulder injury.

Murray is even smaller than Baker, and has had some injury issues. It’s like that will continue or only get worse. Does anyone think Murray’s game will improve once he slows down and stops making the hero ball plays that have helped him win games? If we knew he would study on how to win from the pocket, there could be some reason for optimism. But he doesn’t put in the work, and as a small QB he’s already at a disadvantage playing from the pocket.

The odds are pretty good that the Cardinals will regret this deal.

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