The Arizona Cardinals are expected to sign Kyler Murray to a contract extension before training camp opens on July 26, according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington. He tweeted July 14 that negotiations “are going smooth and getting a deal before camp remains a very reasonable likelihood. The drama of February feels long in the rear view.”
An extension before training camp would ensure that Murray reports with the rest of the team. Murray and the other quarterbacks would be expected to report sometime between July 21 (when rookies report) and the 26th, according to a story by Jess Root of USA Today’s CardsWire.
Speculation swirled around his commitment to the organization after Murray scrubbed his social media accounts in February. However, Murray did report to OTAs in June. Arizona would like to lock up the franchise cornerstone, who completed almost 70% of his attempted passes last season, with as little friction as possible after a hectic summer.
After picking up Murray’s fifth-year option in April, the front office could hold firm and use the franchise tag to keep him through the 2025 season for approximately $110 million total over the next four years.
“I think the Arizona Cardinals feel confident that they’ll get the deal done, hopefully, Kyler feels the same,” Darlington said on the July 14 episode of “SportsCenter” before sending out the accompanying tweet. “Of course, it takes two to tango, but for right now, I think we should continue to expect a deal to get done and for Kyler Murray to start training camp no problem with the Arizona Cardinals.”
Murray: ‘I’m an Arizona Cardinal’
Murray won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 and has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice. Arizona finished 11-6 last season, making their first playoff berth since 2015. However, the Cardinals were blown out in the wild-card round by the eventual champion Los Angeles Rams following a 1-4 finish to the regular season.
Still, head coach Kliff Kingsbury did not play hardball after a June 16 OTA practice. “We’re about to make him the highest-paid player in franchise history.” Kingsbury is “praying before training camp. I just want him there on Day 1 of training camp. … Personally, I’m being selfish here” he said with a laugh.
The franchise and quarterback seem to have fended fences after a Chris Mortenson tweet in February described the “odd vibes” of the relationship as “alarming.” Murray addressed the reported issues with local media after an Arizona Education Foundation appearance.
“I’m an Arizona Cardinal. I’ve done nothing but give my all to the Cardinals and I will continue to do that, so I’m not really too worried about my future as a Cardinal,” he said. “I’m honestly happy where I’m at. I’m just being where my feet are and keeping football the main thing like I always have.”
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Setting Contract Extension Ceiling and Floor
Erik Burkhardt, Murray’s agent, released a framework for negotiations that demanded a fair market rate according to stats and accomplishments. The proposal would have also lowered the Pro Bowler’s cap hit in two years, allowing Arizona to “re-sign deserving teammates and add additional free agents.”
The 10th highest paid starting quarterback by average annual value, Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions, made $33 million last season. Murray will make less than $6.5 million in salary and bonuses in 2022. Arizona hedged its bets while adding some leverage by picking up Murray’s fifth-year option for 2023, which is worth $29.7 million. Jimmy Garappolo ($137.5 million) and Carson Wentz ($128 million) set the floor for 26-year-old playoff quarterbacks if the Cardinals do not use the franchise tag options.
Murray is entering his fourth year and, as one of the NFL’s most marketable young quarterbacks, is in line for a deal that could top $40 million. Deshaun Watson ($250 million) and Josh Allen ($150 million) just set the market ceiling. Murray, his representatives and the Cardinals have outlined approaches allowing them to meet in the middle.