It won’t be easy for Cardinals and Kyler Murray to find a middle ground

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams
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Several years ago, the process for negotiating long-term contracts with deserving quarterbacks was simple. The next man up became the highest-paid player in league history, by roughly $500,000 annually. More recently, that process has become complicated by a variety of factors, including but not limited to the ongoing influx of talented young quarterbacks and the increasing willingness of teams to pull the plug on a veteran bird in the hand.

Now, there’s a $15 million-per-year gap between the highest-paid quarterback (Patrick Mahomes at $45 million per year) and the tenth player on the list (Matt Ryan, at $30 million). There’s no denying the fact that Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has earned a new deal that supplants the roughly $5.5 million he’s due to earn in 2022, the fourth year of a slotted rookie contract. The challenge becomes figuring out where he should land in the hierarchy of quarterback deals.

It won’t be easy, especially not with Murray. From the player’s perspective (and as explained in his agent’s lengthy public statement from Monday), he’s an ascending talent who has helped convert a bad Arizona team into a contender. From the team’s perspective, there are obvious concerns regarding both durability and, for two straight years, in-season regression of quarterback team performance.

Then there’s the bizarre hit job that landed on Super Bowl Sunday, when Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com shared anonymous opinions painting Murray as “self-centered, immature and finger pointer.” Some regarded that as an effort by the upper reaches of the Cardinals organization (i.e., ownership) to express dismay regarding Murray’s contractual expectations and to knock them down or a peg or two, or ten.

So what are the expectations? On Sunday, Burkhardt chimed in regarding our take that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers deserves $50 million per year on a new deal: “Frankly, Rodgers is worth well more than $50m per… ANNOUNCERS are now making $20m+! To drive to the game, out of harm’s way, & just talk about QBs/ players!”

Right or wrong (and he’s right), the explosion of TV and gambling revenue will keep driving the salary cap higher and higher. That means the best players should be getting more and more.

So it’s not just a question of where the market currently is, but where it will be. For each player, the challenge becomes complicated by pegging where he lands for now, and where he’ll be as the cap increases and the market climbs with it.

That’s why I’ll continue to advocate guaranteeing franchise quarterbacks a fixed percentage of the salary cap, each and every year. It protects the player against having a good deal become a bad one, and it ensures that, as the spending limit rises, his compensation will receive a commensurate bump.

None of that matters when it comes to Murray. Both sides will need to find an acceptable amount and structure on a long-term contract. It definitely won’t be easy, as evidenced by the early moves that both sides have made.

12 responses to “It won’t be easy for Cardinals and Kyler Murray to find a middle ground

  1. Murray is a long, long way from elite, and his “me” first attitude won’t play well in the locker room.
    I feel bad for the AZ fans.

  2. Why does NO ONE include the signing bonus already paid when talking about what Kyler makes??? He signed a 4 year $35.6M contract when he signed. That means he gets an average of $8.9M per year. So everyone please stop ignoring the money he’s gotten upfront! His 4 year deal averages $8.9m and the $5.5m number is fodder.

  3. Let’s be real, the resurgence of the Cardinals has a lot more to do with the insertion of DeAndre Hopkins and other key free agent signings than it does with Murray. Look at the records of games with Hopkins vs. games without. Any halfway decent QB can do what Murray does and probably more. It’ll be a mistake to break the bank for this guy.

  4. No need to reach a middle ground. Since he wants to go all nuclear on the team, then open the door and kick him to the curb.

  5. Kyler and his agent value him much more than he is worth. Were it not for circus catches by Hopkins, his completion percentage would be much less. He is another self centered kid. How many players have stood up to say “pay the man”?? Crickets.

  6. and what has Princess Rogers done lately to merit $50M?
    swept the second weakest division in football the last ten years to coast into the playoffs, only to be bounced summarily, the last two times in the first round?
    seriously?

  7. It will be easy. They’d better get their checkbook out or trade him. He’s unique because he could tank their franchise at any time by signing with the Athletics. I do love when people default to that the organization, even terrible ones like the Cardinals, have leverage though. This is the same franchise that hasn’t re-upped Chandler Jones who has lived up to every bit of the contract he signed with them when he was traded there, so don’t expect anything less. It’s why the teams that are competing for championships are playing in a totally different league from these types of places that just want to sell tickets.

  8. “…There’s no denying the fact that Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has earned a new deal…”

    Why???

  9. Let him play out the entire 2022 season before making any long term contract decision.

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