QB drama: Cardinals and Murray continue off-season feud

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — For the Arizona Cardinals, one of the perks of Kyler Murray’s three years as a…

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — For the Arizona Cardinals, one of the benefits of Kyler Murray’s three years as the team’s franchise quarterback is the lack of distractions or drama off the field. .

It changes quickly.

In a somewhat unexpected storyline early in the NFL’s offseason, Murray and the Cardinals were engaged in a passive-aggressive public feud after the team’s season-ending fadeout ended in a loss of 34-11 on NFL playoff opening weekend against Los Angeles. Angeles Rams on January 17.

The last salvo came early Monday morning. Murray’s agent Erik Burkhardt sent a statement in all caps to a few media outlets – including ESPN and the NFL Network – pushing for his quarterback to be given a lucrative long-term extension.

“Actions speak louder than words in this volatile industry,” the statement said. “It’s now simply up to the Cardinals to decide if they prioritize their 24-year-old, rapidly improving, already 2x Pro Bowl QB, who led the organization from 3 wins prior to his arrival to 11 wins and their first playoff appearance in 5 years.”

If only it were that simple.

Murray’s contract calls for him to earn more than $5 million in 2022, with a base salary of $965,000 and a bonus of $4.5 million. Unless the current situation continues to deteriorate, the Cardinals should choose his fifth-year option for the 2023 season.

But Murray’s long-term future is still in flux. The 2019 No. 1 draft pick, who won the Heisman Trophy in Oklahoma, is seeking a contract extension that would pay him in the neighborhood of other young star quarterbacks, including Buffalo’s Josh Allen.

Burkhardt’s statement says Murray’s contract request is “in line with the current QB market.”

By comparison, Allen signed a six-year, $258 million contract with the Bills last year that includes a guaranteed $150 million. Allen, however, led Buffalo to a few playoff victories, while Murray did not win a playoff game with Arizona.

Now it’s up to the Cardinals to decide if Murray is worth that kind of money.

The idea that Murray and his employer would be sidelined seemed far-fetched just months ago, when the Cardinals had won their first seven games and looked like one of the top Super Bowl contenders. Murray was posting big numbers and sparking MVP talk.

Then, the collapse.

The Cardinals started 10-2 but then lost four of their last five, dropping from the No. 1 seed overall in the NFC to the wildcard round, where they were unceremoniously dumped by a Rams team. who won the Super Bowl. . Murray’s first postseason performance was lousy: 19 of 34 passes for 137 yards and two interceptions.

Of course, the Cardinals had a few bad breaks. Murray sprained his ankle midway through the season, causing him to miss three games and limiting his mobility. Top receiver DeAndre Hopkins suffered a knee injury and missed the final four games of the regular season and the playoff loss.

But there was no doubt that the quarterback’s steady rise to the NFL’s top flight had hit a snag.

Then the offseason drama began. First, there were reports that Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill was upset with the team’s late-season collapse, which wasn’t particularly surprising. A few weeks later, Murray cleaned his social media accounts of all references to the Cardinals, suggesting he was unhappy.

Murray eventually posted a social media post that featured him in a Cardinals uniform. He wrote that “all that nonsense is not who I am, never was, never will be. Anyone who’s ever crossed those lines with me knows how hard I go. Love me or hate me, but I will keep growing and improving.

Unsurprisingly, that failed to quell speculation.

The Cardinals have undoubtedly improved since Murray’s arrival in Arizona, going from a 5-10-1 record in 2019 to 8-8 in 2020 and finally 11-6 last season. Murray was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and made two Pro Bowls.

But Murray’s introverted and sometimes brooding personality is not typical of a quarterback. On a radio show in Phoenix last week, Bidwill tried to clear things up and said he had “good conversations” with Murray.

“Put me in the category of I like it,” Bidwill said. “And I know he’s going to get better.”

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