A shakeup in the desert occurred before 6 p.m. ET involving the Arizona Cardinals Thursday, which now leaves many around the league wondering if Kyler Murray’s days are officially numbered with the team.
Per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Cleveland Browns are trading backup Josh Dobbs and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Cardinals in exchange for a 2024 fifth-round selection. But the strongest thoughts in the aftermath of the deal focus on Murray’s future.
Arizona hasn't named a starting QB, and now Dobbs is in the mix.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 24, 2023
Kyler Murray Facing Cloudy Future in the Desert?
According to some close to the situation, the Cardinals are telling people privately that Murray is more than likely not expected to play this year.
It’s been quite the change of direction for Murray after signing his five-year, $230.5 million extension in July 2022 — which at the time was more than what Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers all earned this offseason.
Murray even sent a message about his contract demands before the deal was made, outlining how much he wanted to stay.
But what transpired after the deal was a down season for the two-time Pro Bowler. Murray was limited to just 11 starts and ended the year with a torn ACL. In the end, he posted just 2,368 yards, 14 touchdown passes, seven interceptions, and went 3-8 overall as a starter. And his longest pass from scrimmage was a 38-yard strike.
The dual-threat passer struggled as a runner too. He finished with a career-low 418 rushing yards and just three touchdowns.
Furthermore, the head coach who helped lure him into the league, Kliff Kingsbury, ended up getting fired after their disappointing 2022 season that saw the Cards fall to 4-13 overall. Now, Jonathan Gannon comes over via the Eagles to bolster the franchise.
With a new regime and now the trade for Dobbs, early indications are Murray is facing the possibility of not being fully recovered from his devastating knee ailment.
“Josh Dobbs was with Cardinals OC Drew Petzing in Cleveland, so he knows the offense. With Kyler Murray still recovering from a torn ACL, it’s now Dobbs competing with Colt McCoy and rookie Clayton Tune for the job,” Peliserro added.
Murray’s pending health also impacts the fantasy department.
Guys, Kyler Murray isn't playing this year… https://t.co/9LCEUlPrPB
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) August 24, 2023
With the move to bring in a backup familiar with the new OC and a new regime in place, all signs point to the Cardinals being in the running for USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who is expected to be the top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
As it is, sports betting analyst Ben Fawkes spoke with one handicapper that the 2023 Cardinals are “right there” with two historically bad teams in NFL lore.
One handicapper told me today that in the 20+ years he’s been betting, this year’s Arizona Cardinals are “one of worst team’s he’s ever power rated.”
Said Arizona is right there with winless 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns
— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22) August 23, 2023
What Convinced the Browns To Change Course?
As for Cleveland, this was a sudden change.
On Thursday before the deal, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters that Doubs would be the No. 2 behind starter DeShaun Watson, while preseason standout Dorian Thompson-Robinson would be the No. 3. The team also waived Kellen Mond via the league’s transaction wire in the morning hours.
But now, Dobbs heads to Arizona. What potentially prompted the change of heart?
Thompson-Robinson’s play may have helped persuade the move. The UCLA standout has impressed Brown fans and the team with his spark of the offense when given action. He’s recorded 348 total passing yards in two preseason games, including a 164-yard night in the 18-18 tie vs. the Eagles in Week 2.
Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported DTR will now be the No. 2, with Mond back on the roster from waivers.
#Browns trade backup QB Joshua Dobbs to the #Cardinals with an exchange of picks; Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the No. 2 behind Deshaun Watson; Kellen Mond was pulled back from waivers and will be kept https://t.co/izGpWgenCG
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 24, 2023