Kyler Murray’s contract, Cardinals’ home record are atop Bidwill’s to-do list

Feb 25, 2022, 5:05 PM | Updated: 9:54 pm

The Arizona Cardinals promising start to the season came crashing down in the form of an NFC Wild Card round exit.

Now in the offseason, it’s time for the club to reflect, revamp and re-evaluate the team’s success and failures in hopes of taking yet another step forward under head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray.

Owner Michael Bidwill stopped by Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday and dove into some of the keys for the Cardinals as they prepare for 2022.

“You look at the backdrop and there were a couple of challenges,” Bidwill said. “Obviously, the dropoff at the end of the season, our home record was disappointing, that’s something that we need to address in the offseason, but the other thing is it looks like these COVID clouds are clearing. … We never had a full offseason program with Kyler Murray and this offense. It was all interrupted by the COVID rules, so they were not working out in the offseason.

“It looks like this year we’ll have a full offseason with this offense (after his rookie year) and I couldn’t be more excited about what that is going to yield. We’ve got a very tough division, we know it. We’re excited about the offseason.”

A look at Bidwill’s main offseason priorities:

Second half skids

Once considered a favorite to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC, Arizona came crashing down in the second half the season.

After starting out 7-0, the Cardinals compiled a 4-6 record over the final 10 games of the regular season.

It’s a concerning trend for not only the Cardinals but for Kingsbury as well, who has now watched multiple college and NFL seasons skid before his eyes.

But when looking back on the season that was, Bidwill sees a number of factors that played into the downturn in production.

“I think it’s a combination of things, certainly (wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’) impact on the field and off the field is huge and losing him from not only a football Xs and Os standpoint but also from an emotional standpoint was big,” the owner said. “Kyler got injured for three games. He certainly — before the injury — was playing at the top of his game and then he came back. I think having a healthy Kyler Murray is always better than Kyler coming off of an injury.

“This team has a bright future and I’m excited about it, especially knowing those guys are coming back 100%.”

Hopkins went down with a torn MCL in Week 14 and missed out on the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery. Despite playing in just 10 games in 2021, the wide receiver still paced the team in receiving touchdowns with eight.

Murray on the other hand missed three games in the middle of the season due to an ankle injury. His return to action wasn’t quite to his first half of the season standards, however, as he watched a 110.4 passer rating dip to 89.3 over the final six games of the year.

“We’re never gonna stop pursuing ideas to get better, but when you look at where we were going into the season at 7-0 and 10-2 and he was in the MVP conversation and then we started having injuries,” Bidwill added. “I think we were doing a lot of things right, he was doing a lot of things right but there’s no doubt there are other areas we will change some things up.

“And looking at the home record, we’re gonna do some things with every part of our operations as we look to 2022.”

Kingsbury’s job

Speaking of Kingsbury, Bidwill continues to have faith in the head coach despite the trend of his teams not closing out seasons.

Dating back to his first year as head coach of Texas Tech in 2013, Kingsbury is 17-45 from Game 8 of a season onward.

For Games 1-7, he’s 42-20-1.

“I know people talk about the finish but we already talked about the factors that contributed to that,” Bidwill said. “I look at the college coaches who have made the transition from college to the pros and the ones that are successful, and Kliff is, I feel like he’s had an adjustment period, had a few years to adjust and I feel like he’s going to get better and better because I feel like he understands the pro rules and the pro game and the pro speed and everything else much better than he did a couple of years ago.

“I think it’s very good. The conversations have continued to go on in the offseason and the last few weeks … and we got a bright future together. Kliff, Kyler, Steve, all of us have to make great contributions as we go forward. I know they have a great relationship.”

Kingsbury remains under contract through next year and has a fifth-year team option. He was reportedly a target during the middle of last season for the Oklahoma job left behind by Lincoln Riley’s departure to USC.

Oklahoma ended up opting for former Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who coincidentally coached Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons during his college days.

Home record

The Cardinals were the unquestioned road warriors this past regular season, compiling an 8-1 record away from State Farm Stadium.

Unfortunately for Arizona, the same success couldn’t be replicated at home.

For the Cardinals, discussions on how to remedy the home woes will be had by both the front office and players, including veteran leaders J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson.

“NFL teams have to win at home. We’re still answering those questions, I’m sure we’re gonna continue to be focused on it and studying it as we go into the offseason,” Bidwill said. “It’ll be a discussion with out players too, because ultimately, it’s about how we’re playing at home. I’m excited to get the team back in the building for the offseason program and to really get focused on that.

“We’ve brought a lot of leadership, Steve I think has done a great job. … He’s brought a lot of great leadership and we’re gonna be leaning on those folks I’m certain as we go forward. Those are questions that are gonna be answered this offseason. But we gotta get the guys back in the building because they’re part of the equation and we want their input.”

Murray’s contract

Last but certainly not least is the contract situation surrounding the team’s starting signal caller in Murray.

While the two sides have had an interesting offseason to say the least, with contract talk and reported frustration leading headlines, Bidwill is confident in who they have under center.

As far as a contract extension? Patience is key as the team looks to reset for 2022.

“When you look at it, the window has just opened for a contract extension. Certainly he’s part of our long-term plan,” Bidwill said. “These contracts, especially quarterback contracts, are very complicated so when you look at it, most of the big ones are done further down the road. … We’ve got time but they’re complicated and we also have other priorities.

“Free agency starts here in a couple of weeks as well as we got to get some guys re-signed. the salary cap is one big pie and you’re making room for a new piece of the pie that’s going to replace the rookie contract. Again, the structure of it, the timing of it, it’s a complicated process and it takes some time. … I know we’re gonna be aggressive (in free agency) and Kyler’s a part of our long-term plan.”

Murray is eligible for an extension after wrapping up his third season of a four-year rookie contract that also includes a fifth-year option.

And despite the optics of Murray’s social media scrubbing, Bidwill said Friday the two sides have been in conversations.

“I spoke to him last night. We’ve had good conversations non-stop,” the owner explained. “I’m not a social media guy … I think there was a lot of interpretation around that that was inconsistent with the conversations that not just I have had, but I know (Kingsbury and Keim) have had — positive conversations that are going in the right direction. We know we’ve got to get better.”

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