The Arizona Cardinals signed franchise quarterback Kyler Murray to a lucrative extension, the team confirmed on Thursday. According to multiple reports, it’s a five-year extension worth a staggering $230.5 million, with $160 million in guarantees.
Murray had two years and roughly $35.2 million remaining on his rookie contract, including the fifth-year option. It means Murray is tied to the Cardinals organization through 2028. Murray’s new contract will pay him $30 million in the first year, $69 million over two years, and $106.15 million over three years. Arizona committed strong cash flow in order to close the deal.
The deal makes Murray the second-highest paid quarterback on an annual basis at $46.1 million, trailing just Aaron Rodgers, whose latest contract will pay him more than $50 million annually. Murray will notably earn more (just slightly) than Deshaun Watson annually ($46 million), but Watson received an additional $70 million in guarantees. The deal is costly for a Cardinals organization that has disappointed in recent seasons, but committing their future to Murray was ultimately a no-brainer decision.
The news arrives after a tumultuous few months that placed several alleged rifts between Murray and the organization at the centerpiece of the offseason. At one point, Murray unfollowed the Cardinals on various social media platforms while also removing all franchise-related photos from his personal Instagram account. Murray also skipped organized team activities (OTAs) while driving home his desire for a new contract. An offseason filled with drama ultimately proved to be a whole lot of nothing. To his credit, Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim consistently showed belief in his ability to complete this extension.
“I feel like we’ll be able to get something done this summer,” Keim recently said, in relation to Murray’s contract. “He is our future, we feel that strongly,” Keim concluded.
With Murray’s future now secured, attention immediately turns back to what’s most important: winning football games. The Cardinals’ 2021 campaign ended in extremely disappointing fashion following a 4-7 finish to the season, paired with an embarrassing 34-11 wild-card defeat to their division rival Los Angeles Rams. The impending season qualifies as an important one in the Keim and Kliff Kingsbury era, and Murray will be able to play a distraction-free brand of football.
Murray’s extension perhaps speaks to the job security of Keim and Kingsbury, who are both seemingly entering a campaign on the hot seat. The Cardinals are viewed as a franchise that must win a playoff game in 2022 should the current regime hope to continue in their roles, but it’s also possible that the public perception doesn’t hold weight within Arizona’s headquarters. One can argue if Keim and Kingsbury were truly on the hot seat, Arizona wouldn’t feel comfortable handing out a $230 million contract extension to the quarterback that Keim and Kingsbury literally handpicked. It’s also possible that owner Michael Bidwell sees Murray as a franchise cornerstone that any potential incoming G.M. or head coach would be happy to inherit, eliminating the need for them to, “bring their own guy.” It’s impossible to say either one with certainty.
The Cardinals’ 2022 schedule is an absolute gauntlet, especially throughout the first half of the season. The Cardinals will open at home against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1. A Week 2 date with the new-look Las Vegas Raiders qualifies as another difficult contest. The Super Bowl-winning Los Angeles Rams visit State Farm Stadium in Week 3. Arizona will also meet the star-studded Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5. Arizona will play all of these contests without No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was suspended for the first six games of the 2022 regular season for violating the league’s NFL Performance Enhancing Drug policy. It’s put up or shut up time.
While Murray’s on-field play (Offensive Rookie of the Year, two-time Pro Bowler) has generally met expectations, his body language and overall leadership abilities have routinely come into question. The Cardinals are banking on Murray improving those aspects of his game. With his contract now locked and loaded, it’s time for Murray and the Cardinals to enjoy the success they’ve always envisioned was possible.
- Aug 18, 2022
- Aug 18, 2022