Pros outweigh cons of Cardinals rolling out Kyler Murray in 2023
Jul 21, 2023, 7:13 AM | Updated: 7:20 am
Physically and mentally ready to perform.
Those have been the two factors directly linked to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray returning to action from a torn ACL suffered late last season.
As for when that might happen is anyone’s guess, with head coach Jonathan Gannon not giving out any sort of timeline and Murray getting most of his rehab work in away from the limelight.
That was until the signal caller broke his silence during an episode of Cardinals Flight Plan last week that chronicled Murray’s progress from his ACL tear in 2022, both on and off the field.
He clearly has a ways to go when it comes to the physical aspect. Based off Murray’s mindset portrayed in the episode, though, the QB seems more than ready to get back in the mix sooner rather than later. He even set a personal yet lofty goal of returning by Week 1.
Should the Cardinals roll out Kyler Murray at some point in 2023 or hold off playing the franchise QB in what is expected to be a down year? A look at both sides of the debate.
Pros of playing QB Kyler Murray in 2023
1. See what you got
This one is two-sided.
For one, seeing Murray return for multiple games in 2023 would go a long way in helping general manager Monti Ossenfort properly evaluate what he has at quarterback.
With the team projected to hold one (if not two) of the top draft picks in 2024, getting a proper look is imperative in deciding if a massive change is needed at the position.
As of Tuesday, USC quarterback Caleb Williams is viewed as the top prospect in the class. There is a very real possibility the Cardinals could be in the position to nab the QB.
Like it or not, it’s an avenue Ossenfort has to take into account. Not doing so would be a failure on his part.
On the other side of things, Murray getting back on the grass would only boost his own confidence levels after going through the intensive rehab process.
If Arizona is really headed toward a redshirt-like year like many project, why not give Murray the opportunity to get his feet wet in a new offense before really turning the attention to 2024?
More time on task is never a bad thing, especially when Murray has a new coordinator to work with in Drew Petzing.
2. Trade value increases
So, about those potentially high draft picks.
If Ossenfort and Co. really are in the business of making a change at QB with one of their two first-round draft picks in 2024, one of the biggest to-dos is getting Murray off Arizona’s books.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the signal caller’s hefty — and recent — contract extension is going to make that kind of move a whole lot trickier.
Of the biggest potential hangups is Murray’s $37 million base salary in 2024. That number drops to $18 million in 2025 before reaching $22.8 million in 2026 and $19.5 million in 2027.
And that’s not even diving into the dead money hit the Cardinals would have to take on, much like we saw when the team parted ways with DeAndre Hopkins.
But if Murray can get back to form post-ACL tear and further prove the injury is behind him, that will only increase interest.
There are going to be multiple teams in need of a quarterback in 2024, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams and Washington Commanders among those that could potentially make a change.
3. Best chance for wins
When Murray is on the field, opponents are forced to defend differently than say a Colt McCoy or David Blough.
Before his and Arizona’s down year last season (3-8 record), Murray had been trending in the right direction in the win-loss column, improving his win total from five in Year 1 to eight in Year 2 before posting a 9-5 record in Year 3.
There are things the QB does with his legs that others on the roster simply can’t.
At the very least, adding a few more Ws to the record would be a morale boost for what is expected to be a rough season.
Cons of playing QB Kyler Murray in 2023
1. Trade value falters
Getting Murray back on the field would be a no-doubt positive in a down season.
That is if Murray can return to proper form.
If Murray is clearly not the same quarterback post-injury, his trade value will take a big hit, especially when you consider the contract he’s playing on.
Any kind of downturn in play could very well shy away any prospective trade partners if the Cardinals decide to go down that route.
2. Draft position takes a hit
Winning some games in 2023 could go a long way in further building the foundation of the organization. It could also greatly impact Arizona’s draft spot.
As of Thursday, FanDuel Sportsbook has Arizona’s over/under for wins at 4.5 games. They are not favored in any of their games.
The Houston Texans, which traded away its 2024 first-round pick to the Cardinals during this year’s draft, have a 6.5 over-under and are projected to finish just ahead of the Cardinals standing-wise.
A lot of Arizona’s low win-loss expectations have to do with the unknown surrounding Murray and if/when he returns to action.