What should the Arizona Cardinals do with Kyler Murray?

Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals - Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals - Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Kyler Murray’s status with the team has taken an interesting turn after an update was revealed on Thursday.

Could there be some drama brewing between the Arizona Cardinals and their star quarterback?

On Thursday, the NFL got some new and major updates about the interesting relationship between the two parties.

Apparently, Kyler Murray is not going to play in 2022 unless he receives a contract extension from the team.

Furthermore, the Cardinals themselves have not made an official offer, and Murray’s agent, Erik Burkhardt recently informed the team that he was pulling their initial offer off the table.

In a quick turn of events, there now appears to be a legitimate possibility that the Arizona Cardinals-Kyler Murray marriage might not last much longer.

So, let’s dive into this entire situation, shall we?

Kyler Murray has three years in the NFL under his belt.

In some important categories like completion percentage, winning percentage, and quarterback rating, Murray has gotten better each season.  In fact, the Cardinals looked like the best team in the NFL, starting 7-0 before finishing the season 4-7.

Was this Murray’s fault, though?  Head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s coaching history would indicate that his teams generally do much worse down the stretch.

Even still, finishing 11-6 in the loaded NFC West was still, by all accounts, a very good season, and genuine improvement from their first year together, when they went 5-10-1.

The team as a whole has gotten better since Murray was drafted in 2019, and their success, to me, is definitely more due to Kyler Murray than the coaching.

I do think the Cardinals would be wise to give Murray an extension.  Many quarterbacks are given a hefty payday after their third season, so Murray wanting an extension now is perfectly reasonable.

Even though he doesn’t light up the stat sheet through the air, he’s also accumulated nearly 1,800 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns since being drafted.  Through his three seasons, he’s produced 90 total touchdowns, a cool average of 30 per season.

He’s also gotten better each year as I previously mentioned.

To me, there is plenty of proof that Murray’s camp can use to leverage getting an extension.

Without Murray on the team, the Cardinals might win a handful of games in 2022 and would be roaring towards one of the top picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Arizona Cardinals need Kyler Murray more than Kyler Murray needs them.  In a different world, Murray decides to not play in 2022 and perhaps takes his talents to the baseball diamond.

However, I do think this situation ultimately ends with the Cardinals giving him an extension.  Not every team has a top ten quarterback, and the Cardinals should ensure he remains in Arizona for the foreseeable future.

So, what would that extension look like?

According to Overthecap.com, there are seven quarterbacks who average at least $40 million per year.

Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott are both at the $40 million per year mark, while Derek Carr is at $40,500,000 per year.

I think Murray and his agency would command a contract worth more than that.  Murray is better than all three of these players.

As we start to climb up the list, the next quarterback on the chart is Josh Allen, who makes an average of $43 million per year, which is the fourth most average per year contract in the NFL.

Above him are Patrick Mahomes at $45 million per year, Deshaun Watson at $46 million per year, and Aaron Rodgers at $50 million per year.

To me, I think Murray has no case to be paid like Mahomes, Allen, Watson, or Rodgers, but he also has a case to be paid more than Carr, Prescott, and Stafford.

So, let’s say Kyler Murray signed a deal worth about $42 million per year.  That would peg him as the fifth-highest average annual salary, would be near the most expensive contract, and would also be a slight step up from the Staffords, Prescotts, and Carrs.

Would this be a happy medium for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals?  Perhaps.

I also think that Murray isn’t going to want a five or six-year contract.  I think his relationship with the Cardinals organization is murky at best, and I think signing a deal on the shorter end would be his most likely move.

I kind of liken this to the contract that Kirk Cousins originally signed with the Vikings before the 2018 season.

It was just a three-year deal and allowed Cousins to keep cashing in with smaller extensions, but it was also heavier in the guarantees.

Cousins now looks like a genius, since he’s signed a few short extensions with fully guaranteed money.

I could see Kyler Murray doing something similar, especially if the situation in Arizona goes south.

If Murray’s extension was for three seasons, that would make the contract a three-year, $126 million extension.

Could Murray then command something like $100 million in guarantees?  If that happened, that would put him at third in the NFL among the most total guaranteed money, behind Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers, and tied with Josh Allen.

This would give the Cardinals one last legitimate look with the Kyler Murray + Kliff Kingsbury marriage, and would also allow Murray some wiggle room for future extensions or perhaps a way out after the three years is up.