Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals finished a major piece of business Thursday morning as the franchise quarterback reported to training camp. The two sides finalized a five-year, $230.5 million extension that ties him to the Cardinals through the 2028 season.
The $46.1 million annual average with $160 million total guaranteed in a deal negotiated by agent Erik Burkhardt of Roc Nation Sports makes him the second-highest paid quarterback in the NFL in terms of average salary.
What the deal means for Kyler Murray, Cardinals
In terms of guaranteed money overall, the deal ranks second to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s unprecedented five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract. In terms of annual average, Murray only ranks behind Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers’ $50.3 million average. What it means, though, for the Cardinals and Murray is just as significant.
Arizona is all-in on Murray and his upside as one of the most physically talented quarterbacks in the league. They’re saying with this financial commitment that they believe he can lead them to a Super Bowl. That’s what Murray’s new contract says. It speaks volumes for how they feel about him after some rocky, drama-filled moments in their relationship earlier this offseason.
This blockbuster deal, while not fully guaranteed like Watson’s, represents nonetheless a huge statement. The Cardinals, led by owner Michael Bidwill, general manager Steve Keim, and coach Kliff Kingsbury, have pushed their chips into the middle of the table and are betting on Murray realizing his considerable potential.
The Cardinals were previously going to pay the former Oklahoma star and 2019 top overall draft pick $5.3 million this season and had exercised his $29.7 million fifth-year option for 2023. Now, they have him under contract for the next six years.
Speaking of Watson, his private quarterback coach, Quincy Avery, weighed in on the deal not being fully guaranteed on social media.
“Also it looks like the fully guaranteed deal for QBs is not going to be the norm,” Avery wrote. “Which I [waver] on. Not sure it matters for less mobile QBs but guys who could see a decline in production with the absence of their ability to run I think it’s huge.”
Meanwhile, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has reported to training camp. Although Jackson doesn’t have an agent and relies on his mother and outside advisors for counsel in business matters, the Ravens and Jackson have expressed confidence that a deal will eventually happen. Jackson has made it clear he wants to be a Raven, but no deal is imminent, per league sources. The two sides are talking, though.
Murray’s confidence was based on reality
Murray previously expressed confidence this spring that things would ultimately work out. During an offseason charity event, he downplayed any concerns that this deal would eventually happen.
“I’m an Arizona Cardinal,” Murray said “I’ve done nothing but give my all to the Cardinals and will continue to do that. I’m not really too worried about my future as a Cardinal.”
A former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year who won 11 games last season as the Cardinals skidded after a 7-0 start and lost in the opening round of the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, Murray will be expected to do even more going forward.
Murray is the catalyst for an offense built around his live arm and rare elusiveness and speed. He passed for 3,787 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions last season and rushed for 423 yards and five scores.
“Man, it’s great playing with him,” offensive lineman Josh Jones told Pro Football Network before the deal was struck. “He’s one of those guys who every time he steps on the field he can be the best player. Not many guys can be the best player. He’s so electric in making amazing plays. We just want to be able to give him confidence back there so he can get back into his groove and we can go have a long season.”
Keim, during a press conference this spring, expressed a need for patience with such an important negotiation.
“The way we have approached it is we have free agency, we have the draft, and then we will take a deep breath and sort of refocus,” Keim said. “That’s sort of the reason every other player that has been a third-year quarterback has been (extended) in the middle of or late summer. It’s no different for us. Nothing has changed in terms of him being our long-term and short-term quarterback.
“Listen, I was a decent GM when Carson Palmer was our quarterback. When he retired, I wasn’t very good. I am smart enough to know that Kyler Murray makes me a better GM.”
In a lengthy statement issued earlier this offseason that spawned lots of headlines and unrest from Cardinals fans, Burkhardt sent a detailed contract proposal to the Cardinals. They’ve come a long way from that acrimony, and now the deal is done.
“Kyler wants to be direct with loyal Arizona Cardinals fans and the great community of the Valley in stating his two very important goals and objectives: 1) He absolutely wants to be your long-term QB. 2) He desperately wants to win the Super Bowl,” Burkhardt stated.
“Achieving both goals will take incredible commitment from himself and the entire organization. To overtly communicate Kyler’s desire to be the Cardinals’ long-term QB, we sent a detailed contract proposal to the organization.
“It was important to Kyler that his proposal reflected all of the following: provides financial protection, is in line with the current QB market that compares his results alongside relevant comps, lowers his 2022-23 salary cap number to allow the Cardinals to re-sign other deserving teammates and add additional free agents, and, most importantly, represents a real commitment from the organization to see if their ultimate goals align with 2 above (consistently competing for championships and Kyler as their QB).
“Actions speak louder than words in this volatile business. It is now simply up to the Cardinals to decide if they prioritize their rapidly improving 24-year-old, already two-time Pro Bowl QB, who led the organization from 3 wins before his arrival to 11 wins and their first playoff appearance in 5 years or rather, if they choose to financially prioritize committing to other areas and continuing to merely talk about addressing Kyler’s long-term future as their QB.
“Unfortunately, every player, coach, and executive in the NFL knows (or should know) that words and hypothetical contractual promises are regularly dismissed and fleeting in this business. Kyler remains hopeful that the organization chooses to commit so that he can continue leading the Cardinals to further success and value for many years to come.”
And now, months later, the deal is finally done. That shared goal has been met. The Cardinals are betting that Murray as QB1 for a lengthy future will prove to be a wise investment. They’re counting on him to lead them going forward.