ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals CB Byron Murphy listed among ESPN’s top free agents of 2023

Mar 26, 2022, 8:12 AM

Cardinals CB Byron Murphy runs through drills during practice Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, in Tempe. ...

Cardinals CB Byron Murphy runs through drills during practice Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Take off the Arizona Cardinals fan hat for one second and put on the Steve Keim general manager cap.

Even with the 2022 edition of free agency already in full swing, decisions makers in the front office of an NFL franchise are still looking forward years down the line.

So while signing a player in one position might fill a hole or need for this season, teams could very well find themselves in the same spot come March 2023.

One of those squads could be the Cardinals at the cornerback position. Arizona is already light in the CB room as it is and will have to extend Byron Murphy as he goes into the final year of his four-year rookie contract, making him a free agent in one year’s time.

But other teams from around the league may already have their eyes set on Murphy in free agency (remember to keep the GM cap on), as ESPN has him listed as the 19th-best free agent target in 2023.

Murphy made a jump last season for the Cardinals, intercepting four passes and defending 12 others — both career highs. He hasn’t received any postseason recognition, and most free-agent cornerbacks struggled to get traction on this year’s free-agent market. But if Murphy takes another reasonable jump in 2022, he’ll be hotly pursued as a 25-year-old starter.

Murphy, a Scottsdale Saguaro High School alumnus, was selected by the Cardinals with the first pick in the second round out of Washington in the 2019 NFL Draft.

In his three-year career in Arizona, the cornerback has amassed five interceptions — one of which he took back for a touchdown — and 30 passes defensed across 47 games (39 starts).

Murphy also added 193 tackles (155 solo and six for loss), one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

The list did not, however, include Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.

That’s because the signal caller technically has a fifth-year team option that Arizona could use to keep him in the Valley through 2023.

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson sat atop the list as the best possible free agent in one year’s time.

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