After being drafted first overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, Kyler Murray was set to enter the fourth year of his rookie contract in 2022, which would have paid him a salary of just $965,000 with a signing bonus of $5.9 million. However, ahead of training camp, the Arizona Cardinals penned Murray to a five-year extension worth $230.5 million.
Kyler Murray’s contract details and bonuses
Murray had one year remaining on his four-year contract worth $35.7 million. All that money was fully guaranteed, with $23.6 million coming as a signing bonus. The remaining $12.1 million was split between his base salary and roster bonuses paid in Years 2, 3, and 4.
The Cardinals had also picked up the fifth-year option, worth a fully guaranteed $29.7 million in 2022. Therefore, before signing his extension, Murray had around $35 million remaining on his contract entering 2022.
Murray’s new deal is for five more years with $230.5 million in new money. That means Murray is now under contract with the Cardinals for seven more years. The total value of the deal is around $265.5 million.
A total of $160 million is guaranteed in Murray’s contract. However, only $104.3 is fully guaranteed at signing, with the remaining $57.7 million becoming guaranteed during the contract. Within the contract is a $29.035 million signing bonus that will prorate at $5.807 million over the next five years. There is also a $36 million option bonus due in 2023 that will prorate at $7.2 million a year between 2023 and 2027.
How much does Murray’s contract impact the salary cap?
Prior to this deal, Murray had a projected cap number for 2022 of $11.2 million. Murray’s cap number was based upon a combination of his prorated signing bonus, base salary, and any roster bonus. The $23.6 million signing bonus was prorated at $5.9 million per year across the four years of the original deal. An additional $965,000 in salary with a roster bonus of $4.5 million took it to the $11.2 million number.
Murray’s cap number increased marginally in 2022 following the signing of the new contract. While his base salary remained at $965,000, his $4.5 million roster bonus was effectively replaced with the $5.807 million in prorated signing bonus. Therefore, the cap number for Murray in 2022 is $12.669 million.
Those cap numbers will vary during the life of the deal. In 2023, Murray will have a $16 million cap number. That is then set to rise to $51.857 million in 2024 before dropping slightly to $45.615 million in 2025. The final three years of the deal are set to be $55.55 million, $43.535 million, and $46.35 million, respectively.
What options will the Cardinals have with Murray?
The key to the Cardinals’ future decisions with Murray is when the remaining guarantees come into effect. Right now, the Cardinals really cannot move on from Murray before 2025. If they release him for 2024, they will be on the hook for $81.521 million in dead money, an increase of around $30 million on his currently projected cap number.
However, there are also guarantees for 2025 that become effective in 2024. His $18 million salary for 2025 becomes guaranteed in 2024, as does $11.9 million in roster bonus for 2025. That means if the Cardinals move on in the 2025 offseason, they would be on the hook for around $60 million in dead money, meaning it would cost them around $15 million more than his currently projected cap number for 2025.
The story is similar for 2026. In March 2025, there is a further $36.8 million becomes further guaranteed. Then in 2026, another $19.5 million in salary becomes guaranteed for the 2027 season. The first time that the dead money charge for Murray drops below $50 million will be the 2027 season. That does not mean the Cardinals will not cut bait before, but if they do, there will be a big financial punishment associated.
Of course, there is always wiggle room, especially in the case of a breach of contract. The headline-grabbing clause has been the “independent study” element of the contract. If Murray does not meet that stipulation or breaches the contract in any other way, then the Cardinals will have an option out of the contract, saving a lot of money in salary.