Pressure from Kyler Murray’s camp puts surely seething Cardinals in bind
Kyler Murray is very daring. Some might say he’s delusional.
He has made one disastrous playoff appearance in three years. His postseason debut was so shaky that Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp said Murray didn’t even resemble an NFL quarterback. And near the end of that game, he allegedly quit on his teammates, refusing to re-enter a lopsided loss to the Rams.
These are not credentials worthy of a massive contract extension. This is not the time to go public with weighty demands that paint the Cardinals as ungrateful and untrustworthy.
Unless you’re looking to get out.
In a roundly-panned statement that dropped on Monday morning, Murray’s agent made it clear that the diminutive quarterback will not play another minute of football in Arizona without a new deal in tow. He said there needs to be contractual stability for his quarterback to compete for championships, implying that Murray’s electrifying style of play is far too dangerous for a quarterback stuck on a rookie deal. And we have all seen how danger can spook Murray on a football field.
The actions of Murray’s camp are in direct contrast with the feel-good, “copacetic” vibes the team had been projecting in previous days. They succeeded in turning a good portion of the audience against Murray, whose me-first demands might be more signs of immaturity, petulance and poor mentoring.
Or it might be related to his leverage as an aspiring Major League Baseball player.
In other words, if Murray is actually going to switch professions because he feels he’s grossly underpaid playing an extremely violent sport, then he needs to know immediately. So he’s ready to join the Oakland A’s when the baseball lockout is settled.
Or it might all be a bluff from a quarterback who is impatiently seeking a payday worth an estimated $40-45 million annually.
Owner Michael Bidwill is surely seething. There is a breach of etiquette and good faith here that would’ve made his father dig in hard, battling agents to bitter ends on sheer principle alone. And Bidwill can’t be pleased how a growing number of disgruntled current and ex-Cardinals are negatively shaping the team’s league-wide reputation.
Remember when Steve Keim ludicrously said the team would love to re-sign Patrick Peterson following the 2021 season? The former cornerback is still waiting for that phone call.
When Bidwill expressed his affinity for Chandler Jones during a radio interview with 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday, Jones responded with laughing emojis on Twitter. And the statement from Murray’s agent speaks to their belief that the Cardinals have a real problem inside the locker room, an organization with transparency issues and a truth-telling problem, prone to saying one thing to the media and another behind closed doors.
It’s also clear that Murray is built different.
If he’s willing to quit on the Cardinals in a playoff game, why wouldn’t he quit the Cardinals altogether? Especially when his base salary of $965,000 for 2022 ranks 38th in the NFL among quarterbacks and his total cash earned for Year 4 amounts to just $5.5 million, 22nd in the league. Especially when his head coach expects him to be a dual threat and run with the football.
So Bidwill has two real options: He can trade Murray for Houston’s Deshaun Watson, reuniting the Texans quarterback with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and making the entire deal contingent on Watson being cleared from any criminal wrongdoing amid his sexual assault allegations; or he can view this contentious intersection as a golden opportunity to lock up a franchise quarterback at a discounted, bargain rate.
If Bidwill truly “loves” Murray and truly believes he’ll keep getting better, prematurely striking the right deal in March 2022 might seem like a prescient maneuver within two years.
Besides, the Cardinals can’t afford the alternative. From Sam Bradford to Josh Rosen, we’ve seen what those can look like. And this is no time to be a have-not in the NFC West.
Reach Bickley at email@example.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6-10 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.