Ex-Cardinals CB Byron Murphy ‘grateful’ to join Vikings’ culture
After four seasons of patrolling the Arizona Cardinals’ secondary, cornerback Byron Murphy is off to colder pastures after agreeing to a two-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings worth a reported $22 million this offseason.
Despite having additional opportunities to speak with other teams this free agency period, Murphy saw Minnesota as the perfect fit to continue his NFL journey. It also reunites the cornerback with inside linebacker and former Cardinals captain Jordan Hicks.
“Knowing my coaches in Arizona had talked to me about the coaches and staff here, that kind of gave me advice and the stuff that they do here,” Murphy told reporters during his introductory press conference on Thursday. “So I kind of just related to that, connected with that and I just felt like that was the most important thing for me was to hear about the coaches and the culture here and how they run things up here.
“Jordan Hicks called me, had a great conversation with him,” the CB added. “Talked about a couple things as well. Obviously, (former Cardinal and Viking Patrick Peterson), he’s been my mentor since my rookie year so that’s like my big brother. He said the same thing Jordan said, ‘the culture’s different, you’re going to love it.'”
Murphy is looking to bounce back after playing in just nine games last season due to a back injury that placed him on the injured reserve. His time on the shelf helped contribute to career lows in tackles (36) and passes defensed (four). He also recorded 0.5 sacks, three tackles for loss a QB hit and two forced fumbles.
The cornerback did, however, play an integral part in arguably Arizona’s biggest win of the season last year, returning a fumble for a touchdown to seal an overtime win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2.
Before this past season, Murphy had played in no fewer than 15 games in each of the three years prior. In his first 47 games as a Cardinal, Murphy notched five interceptions, 30 passes defensed, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He made 193 tackles, six of which were for losses, and three QB hits.
Despite the solid resume, the back injury added an unknown to Murphy’s free agency. Luckily for Murphy, he did not undergo any type of surgery and rehabbed through core work.
The cornerback focused on his family and faith throughout the business side of things.
“I had my family around me so I was just chilling, had my son with me just training and working out,” Murphy said. “It’s a blessing to just be in that position. The process was blessed but at the same time was trying not to overthink things and God’s plan happened to be here. Grateful to be here.”
Murphy joins a Vikings team coming off a Wild Card exit after winning the NFC North last season.
He’ll now get to work with new defensive coordinator Brian Flores, who was a head-coaching finalist for the Cardinals this offseason, on top of going up against 2022 All-Pro wideout Justin Jefferson on the daily. Per Fanduel Sportsbook, Minnesota currently has the second-best odds (+280) behind the Detroit Lions (+145) to repeat as NFC North champs. The same can’t be said for Murphy’s former team, which is sitting with +2400 odds to take the NFC West crown in 2023.
The Vikings’ gleaming NFLPA report card doesn’t hurt, either.
Minnesota was tops in the league when it came down to GPA, posting an A- or better in each of the eight categories surveyed by the NFLPA through 1,300 player responses. The categories included: treatment of families, nutrition, weight room, strength staff, training room, training staff, team travel and locker room.
The same couldn’t be said for the Cardinals, who ranked second to last with just three passing grades. Among the glaring issues inside the training facility was the uneven floorboards in the weight room and the fact that players were charged for their meals.
“For me to come here and see the time and effort they put into this building and into their players, the coaches, the people upstairs, it’s just a blessing to come here and see that and be a part of something like that,” Murphy said. “It’s a blessing to see how nice this whole facility is.
“I think it’s free upstairs, so I’m good now,” the CB added when asked if he has to pay for his meals at the team facility like he did in Arizona. “It’s all-you-can-eat now.”