Kyler Murray's new contract extension with the Arizona Cardinals has dominated headlines today. Murray's future with the Cardinals became a bit cloudy this offseason when rumors began to swirl that he was unhappy in Arizona.
Murray's new five-year, $230.5 million extension quickly put those rumors to rest, though. Murray earned $160 million in guaranteed money with this deal, and his average yearly salary of $46.1 million is the second highest figure in the league.
Cardinals are giving Kyler Murray a five-year, $230.5 million deal that includes $160 million guaranteed, per source. It gives Murray the second highest paid QB average at $46.1 million per year. https://t.co/tTnUJXGSm3
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 21, 2022
Murray's future with Arizona is now resolved, and if you are a Cardinals fan you have to be happy with that prospect. But did Arizona overpay for Murray considering his struggles with consistency over the past few seasons? Let's take a closer look at the deal before handing out a final grade.
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Grading Kyler Murray's extension with the Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray has quickly become one of the brightest young stars in the NFL, despite his career being just three seasons old. He has quickly changed the direction of the Cardinals future during that time, and they look poised to be a contender for quite some time now that Murray is staying with them on a long-term deal.
Murray has joined the recent trend of mobile quarterbacks who have taken the league by storm. Murray's rushing stats during the 2020 season were incredible (133 CAR, 819 YDS, 11 TD), and even though they weren't as good last year, primarily due to injuries he dealt with throughout the season, his dynamic rushing ability makes him a threat everytime he touches the ball.
This also goes without saying that Murray is an incredible passer as well. He's gotten better each season, as he finds ways to increase his yardage and touchdowns while lowering his interceptions and incompletions. Murray should only continue to get better, as he is going to be just 25 by the time the 2022 season starts up.
Inking Murray to a long-term extension had to be a top priority for the Cardinals based on how his first three seasons have gone. Among the dual-threat quarterbacks in the league, Murray is clearly among the best of the bunch. He's a terrific passer in his own right, but his ability to extend plays and create yardage on the ground by himself has made him an immensely valuable part of Arizona's franchise.
Murray's new deal puts him in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the league, while also allowing him to potentially earn another huge deal before he calls it a career. And while locking up Murray on a long-term deal is obviously a massive victory for Arizona, the question has to be asked whether or not it is an overpay for a quarterback who has lacked consistency to start his career.
As previously mentioned, Kyler Murray's average earnings per year on this deal come in at $46.1 million, which puts him behind only Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Should Murray be ahead of every other quarterback in the league based on what he has accomplished to start his career? The answer to that is a resounding no.
Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson are all among the quarterbacks Murray has leapfrogged with this new deal. Watson's deal is probably the biggest risk in the league given his potential suspension looming, and you can make a case he belongs in the same boat as Murray in the sense that he shouldn't be ahead of guys like Allen and Mahomes.
Allen and Mahomes are both earning upwards of $40 million per year, while also being locked up on longer deals than Murray. Allen's deal doesn't even kick in until the 2023 season, meaning the Buffalo Bills have another season of Allen on an absurdly cheap deal. Mahomes' deal is ten years long, and all but ensures he will be spending his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
When you consider all that those guys have accomplished, and the fact that they are on cheaper deals than Murray's it's hard to argue against this deal being an overpay for the Cardinals. In a sense, Murray is still largely unproven, and that makes it tough to justify paying him more than a guy like Mahomes or Allen.
Final Grade: B
The price tag associated with this deal is the biggest concern here. Murray hasn't done much to justify a contract worth more than all but one player in the league, and while he has tons of potential, it may have been better to wait and see how he plays in 2022 before handing him this type of deal. It's also a bit concerning to see this only be a five year deal; that's long-term, but also allows Murray the flexibility to walk away from Arizona down the line if he wants to.
Even the somewhat shaky terms of the deal, at least on Arizona's side, you can't take away the fact that Arizona was able to lock up one of the best quarterbacks in the game. This makes them an instant playoff contender for the next few years, and in a weakened NFC, the Cardinals could make some serious noise. Arizona probably could have extended Kyler Murray for cheaper, but locking him up to a long-term deal was more important, and in the end, that's what this deal was able to accomplish.