HomeFootball DirtKyler Murray is Undoubtedly the Franchise QB for the Cardinals

Kyler Murray is Undoubtedly the Franchise QB for the Cardinals

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Jonathan Gannon has not exactly been hesitant to praise Kyler Murray since taking over as the Cardinals’ head coach. But the second half of Arizona’s season has been framed around seeing how the former Pro Bowler looks in a new offense. More talent around Murray is clearly needed, but the rookie HC is still confident in his triggerman.

When asked during a radio interview with Arizona Sports’ Burns and Gambo Tuesday (via AZCardinsals.com) about Murray’s post-2023 future in Arizona, Gannon said, “There is no doubt No. 1 is our franchise quarterback.” Chuckling at the question of the Cards’ 2024 QB1, Gannon has been consistent in his support for the fifth-year quarterback.

An updated endorsement is necessary not only due to Murray’s run of starts but because of the Cardinals’ draft position. Although their upset win over the Eagles dropped them in the draft order, the team still sits fourth. With neither the Bears nor Commanders — stationed at Nos. 1 and 2 — locked into drafting a quarterback, the Cardinals could have an important decision to make. Nearly a year after trading out of the No. 3 overall draft slot and signing off on a rebuilding year as Murray rehabbed his torn ACL, Gannon and GM Monti Ossenfort appear prepared to roll out the dual-threat QB in 2024 as well.

Murray is 3-4 as a starter, tripling the win total the Cardinals accumulated with Josh Dobbs at the helm, and has offered up-and-down work in OC Drew Petzing‘s attack. Murray is averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt. While that is up from his disappointing finale with Kliff Kingsbury, it is well south of his Pro Bowl work from 2020 and 2021. His 64.5% completion rate is also on pace to be the worst since his rookie year. That said, the Cardinals have a bottom-tier skill-position array and figure to be in the market for wide receiver help soon. Marquise Brown is finishing this season on IR; the 2022 trade acquisition will be an unrestricted free agent in March.

The Cardinals’ five-year, $230.5MM Murray extension will be difficult to move in 2024, anyway. Less effusive in praising the QB he inherited, Sean Payton‘s deteriorating relationship with Russell Wilson is set to key a record-shattering $84.6MM in dead money. Even though that will be spread over two years via a post-June 1 cut, the Broncos’ 2025 end of that total — slated at $55MM — would still eclipse what it would cost the Cardinals to move Murray in 2024. Still, Arizona would be tagged with $46MM in dead money if Murray were traded before June 1. Until the Wilson cut commences, the Falcons’ $40.5MM Matt Ryan dead-money hit resides as the NFL’s single-player record.

The Cards owe Murray an $11.9MM guarantee on March 17 — Day 5 of the 2023 league year — if he is still on the roster; that money covers part of his 2025 salary. The year-out guarantee would stand to drive an early trade, but it would be punitive for the Cardinals. And it does not appear Arizona will consider it.

While it is too early to call the Steve Keim-era investment a lock to remain with the now-Ossenfort-led Cardinals in the long term, Gannon continues to insist the former No. 1 overall pick is not leaving the desert in 2024.

 

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