Kyler Murray’s remarks are verbal commitment to give Cardinals his all
Nothing is ever amiss in Birdland. Everyone is buttoned up. Everything is copacetic. Few explanations are given. Injuries are always day-to-day propositions and guarded like state secrets. Introspection is not to be shared with outsiders. Defeat only requires a tip of the cap to the opposing coach and stale vows to get better.
But this Kyler Murray drama is out of control.
Or maybe the drama is over.
On Thursday, the Cardinals quarterback spoke real words in front of a camera. He happily delivered $10,000 checks to a couple of local charities, a lovely gesture that does not fit the profile of a quarterback about to embark on a nasty holdout.
Granted, Murray told a well-intended fib. He claimed he originally scrubbed his Instagram account of all Cardinals content because, well, that’s what younger people do these days. He said it had nothing at all to do with resentment he was feeling toward the Cardinals.
Murray also contradicted himself. He admitted noticing that his name was trending for five consecutive weeks after scrubbing his account. He saw all the speculation and handwringing. And yet never felt the need to counter the erroneous noise, to set the record straight?
Best of all, Murray said this:
“I’m an Arizona Cardinal. I’ve done nothing but give my all to the Cardinals and will continue to do that. I’m not really too worried about my future as a Cardinal.”
Now that changes things. That means Murray has verbally committed to giving the Cardinals his all. That presumably includes no distractions, no holdouts and always practicing in good faith. In other words, no hiding out in the trainer’s room with lingering ailments.
So: Does this mark a major concession from Murray, a breakaway from the aggressive tactics of his agent, Eric Burkhardt?
Or does this mean that Murray is actually closing in on a deal with the Cardinals? If so, Burkhardt is about to pull off an incredibly deft bit of maneuvering, getting an eye-popping extension for a mediocre head coach and then bullying the team into rewarding their polarizing quarterback, both of whom are Burkhardt clients and will pay handsomely for his efforts.
Something must be cooking. The Cardinals have been egregiously quiet during a legitimate free agency frenzy, a vortex of blockbuster news that forever stands as the craziest offseason in NFL history. To wit:
Two-time reigning MVP (Aaron Rodgers) stayed in Green Bay after long deliberations. His star wide receiver (Davante Adams) did not. The G.O.A.T. (Tom Brady) retired and unretired. Russell Wilson was traded to Denver. Matt Ryan was traded to Indianapolis. Carson Wentz was traded to Washington. Deshaun Watson escaped criminal charges and signed a record-breaking deal with the Browns.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are chirping like crickets in a shadowy corner.
In the dark ages of Cardinals football, the franchise felt like a pitiful outcast, playing their own daffy, frugal games while 31 other teams competed for the Super Bowl trophy. For those who lived through the dog-breath football in Sun Devil Stadium, the current offseason brings back many traumatic memories, back when the Cardinals weren’t even playing the same game.
Everything about this offseason has been alarming. The Cardinals have decided to run it back with the hollowed core of a team that was laughed off the field during the NFC playoffs. Their new acquisitions are of minimal value. It means that (a) the Cardinals are getting cheap and soft and content with mediocrity; (b) Murray’s dramatics have scared away potential free agents; or (c) the Cardinals are pinching their pennies for something big. Like Murray’s extension.
Earlier on Thursday, the story seemed to be shifting in the opposite direction. A gambling website reported that the Panthers were preparing a big trade offer for Murray. The story makes a lot of sense if the Cardinals refuse to give Murray what he wants and also expect amplified antics in the near future.
Keep in mind, Burkhardt deeply insulted Bidwill and General Manager Steve Keim by questioning their commitment to winning, even if he didn’t name them specifically. But Burkhardt’s strategy is clearly agitation, and the Cardinals might be enticed by a cachet of new draft picks, a chest full of compensatory picks and easy access to Baker Mayfield as a stopgap measure.
The truth is coming soon.
Until then, we will remain where we always are with the Cardinals. On a need-to-know basis.