Kyler Murray’s future with the Arizona Cardinals remains shrouded in mystery less than two weeks before the 2022 NFL draft. The franchise quarterback still doesn’t have the lucrative, long-term contract extension he and his agent are looking for, while the Cards appear content to wait before returning to the negotiating table.
Naturally, there have been various predictions about how all this will play out. Some envisage a deal finally being struck during the summer, while others think Murray might even be traded.
A former NFL wide receiver with a Super Bowl title on his CV belongs in the latter camp. He recently explained why he thinks the Cardinals will not only trade Murray, but they’ll deal the face of the franchise before the start of the season.
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Ex-Packers Star Thinks Murray Situation ‘Ain’t Right’
Speaking on an episode of NFL Network’s Total Access, James Jones, who won Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers, explained why Murray and the Cardinals are headed for a split:
I think Kyler Murray is out of here. I think Kyler Murray is not going to be in Arizona going into this season. It’s just too much. It’s been too much. Since he’s came into this organization, especially this season, it’s always been ‘well, this ain’t right. That ain’t right. Well this happened and that happened.’ It’s just been too much. So I think the organization is like ‘you know what? There’s a lot of teams out there with some draft capital. This is a young phenom, a young superstar in the National Football League, possible could win one or two MVP’s.
I think he’s out of Arizona, I think somebody is going to give a deal to the Arizona Cardinals that gets Kyler Murray out of there and gets him on a new team. There’s just too much draft capital and there’s too much going on I don’t know if the organization wants to deal with. And even if you do pay him I see this happening again. I see some problems with Kyler Murray, ‘The roster ain’t this’ or something may happen. I think we’ve seen the last of Kyler Murray in an Arizona Cardinals uniform.
Jones’ take that this offseason won’t be the last of the drama involving Murray could be weighing on the minds of those in the Cardinals’ front office. General manager Steve Keim is the person chiefly responsible for agreeing a new deal with the team’s star player, but he has been backed into a corner by Murray’s agent, Erik Burkhardt.
The latter has been pushing hard for his client to be rewarded with fresh terms now. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero recently reported Burkhardt has “pulled” a proposal from the table and that it’s unlikely Murray plays in Arizona on his current deal in 2022:
It wasn’t long before Pelissero’s report prompted speculation about a possible trade. One of the first to outline this scenario was MMQB writer Albert Breer.
He explained how the start date for this year’s draft, Thursday, April 28, represents an important deadline for decisions of this sort:
So far, at least, there hasn’t been any reports of concrete interest from potential trade partners. Although, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio named NFC South rivals the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints as “obvious candidates” after all three missed out to the Cleveland Browns in pursuit of Deshaun Watson.
There’s little doubt Murray, who has gone to the last two Pro Bowls, would soon draw a queue of keen suitors if he was put on the trading block. He’s a dynamic, dual-threat playmaker who threw for 24 touchdowns and rushed for 423 yards in 2021.
Yet, despite the seemingly fractious relationship between Murray, his agent and the front office, not everybody is as convinced as Jones a trade is inevitable. One respected NFL columnist thinks the Cardinals will eventually relent and do what’s needed to keep their most prized asset.
Peter King Has Optimistic Take on Murray Contract Standoff
In his Football Morning in America column for NBC Sports, Peter King gave his thoughts on the apparent standoff between Murray and the Cardinals. While King doesn’t think the Cards will “accede to Burkhardt’s demands,” he does believe Keim and Co. will wait until the summer to come to terms with Murray and his representative.
King thinks a compromise will need to be reached because “chances are microscopic that Murray plays this season under his current deal.”
Of course, there’s another option for the Cardinals. They could hold firm and expect Murray to play out his rookie deal ahead of using a franchise tag to keep him from free agency after his fifth-year option expires following the 2023 season.
That plan would require a certain amount of co-operation from Murray, although Minnesota Vikings’ starter Kirk Cousins has shown how lucrative tags can be for quarterbacks who know how to play the market.
Leverage still belongs with Murray, because if he doesn’t play ball, the Cards will soon find themselves in limbo at football’s most important position. King warned against falling into the trap currently blighting the Panthers, whose own search for a franchise-worthy signal-caller seemingly has no end in sight.
It’s a strong argument considering the Cardinals were 3-13 before taking Murray first overall in the 2019 draft. Since then, they’ve returned to the payoffs in just three seasons.
The Cardinals’ best chance of competing for a championship still resides with Murray’s talents.