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The Potential Ramifications of Kyler Murray’s Return

The (1-8) Arizona Cardinals have not given their fans much to be excited about this year. There are two moments that stand out as happy moments. In week two they were able to build a huge lead on the New York Giants. The Cardinals led 20-0 at halftime but crumbled in the second half and lost 31-28. The next week they pulled off maybe the biggest upset of the season. Arizona defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 28-16.

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It has all been downhill since the big win over Dallas. The Cardinals are currently on a six game losing streak that came to an all-time rock bottom moment on Sunday when they lost to the Cleveland Browns, 27-0. As bad as the offense has been all year, this was the first time Arizona was shut out this season. Not only were they shut out, they were shut down on a historic level.

Sunday was the first start for rookie quarterback Clayton Tune. It did not go well to say the least. The Cardinals only gained 58 yards on offense. Tune was the leading rusher with 28 yards. They were only able to pick up seven first downs. They did not attempt a play in the red zone. This was arguably the worst offensive performance of the modern era. After a game like that what do the Cardinals’ fans have to get excited about? The return of 2019 number one overall pick Kyler Murray!

A Hero’s Return?

Murray tore his ACL on December 12, 2022 against the New England Patriots. It was expected for him to miss most of this season. It was also understood that the expectations for the team would be very low without Murray. The Cardinals have lived up to those low expectations and are now in line for a top draft pick in the first round. The Cardinals are currently tied with the Carolina Panthers for the least amount of wins at one a piece. This is not good news for the Panthers as the Chicago Bears own their first round pick. So, essentially its a race between the Cardinals and Panthers, who are representing the Bears in this case, for the number one overall pick.

Kyler Murray is a very good quarterback when put it the right situation. He is a two-time Probowler who has completed 66.8% of his passes so far in his career. Murray has also thrown for 84 touchdowns and only 41 interceptions. Even a rusty version of Murray will be a massive upgrade of Joshua Dobbs and Clayton Tune. Murray playing for the rest of the season could result in Arizona winning some games.

Draft Pick Damage

This could knock the Cardinals out of a top five pick. Arizona also has the Houston Texans first round pick. The Texans are currently 4-4, exceeding the expectations that most had for them coming into the season. It looks like they have found their franchise quarterback in C.J. Stroud. So they may not miss that first round pick the way other teams like Carolina will.

So, with the Texans playing better than expected and Murray set to return, the two first round picks that had the potential to be in the top five could both be outside of the top ten. That means the 1-8 start that Cardinals’ fans had to struggle through would not have been worth it. Then there is the financial side of things.

The Contract

In July of 2022, Kyler Murray signed a 5 year, 230 million dollar contract extension with 159 million of that fully guaranteed. There was a some controversy surrounding this contract extension when it was discovered that there was a special clause in the details of the deal. The clause stated that Murray was required to study game film at least four hours per week. This was a very unusual clause to put in a contract.

It raised a lot of questions about Murray’s dedication to the game of football. That previous sentence could of ended with dedication to the game but then it may have been confused with his dedication to Call of Duty. A very popular video game that Murray is known to be a huge fan of. Fans where worried that he was spending too much time on the game, to be on his game.

The Clause That Matters

That film studying clause may have garnered the most amount of headlines but it was not the most important clause in the contract. The most important clause in the contract is the injury clause. If Murray gets hurt during this season and is not able to pass his physical in March of next year, things will get complicated.

If Murray gets injured and can’t pass his physical in March, the Cardinals would have to pay out $37 million in 2024, $29.9 million in 2025. Murray also has another $26.8 million in 2026 of injury guarantees. The Cardinals are in between a rock and a hard place here.

They have to play Murray if he is ready to go, especially after that putrid performance on Sunday against the Browns. They also know that Murray is good enough to win a few games which will be good for team morale now but not help them going forward. Unless he plays well enough to where another team with a top pick is willing to trade their first round pick for him.

If Murray does play well, that possibility is open but Arizona most likely would hold on to the 26-year old quarterback. Two-time Probowl quarterbacks in their mid-20s do not grow on trees.

There is a lot that needs to be determined and if all things go well in practice this week. The game against the Falcons on Sunday will start the determination process.

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