Kyler Murray Extension Adds Cardinals To List Of Teams Paying Big Money For A Hope At QB

The debate whether Kyler Murray deserves the $230.5 million contract extension he got from the Arizona Cardinals Thursday is moot now because the quarterback has put pen to paper and everyone’s opinion really doesn’t matter any more.

But facts matter.

And one fact that lingers after Murray signed his deal that includes a massive $160 million in guaranteed money, is that some executives around the NFL added the Cardinals to the list of teams paying top dollar for a quarterback who has not yet produced at any elite level with consistency.

And that list of teams seems to grow every year because there simply aren’t enough elite quarterbacks to match the growing salaries and cap values desperate teams are paying.

Think about this: Murray, 24, is a two-time Pro Bowl player and has tons of potential and room for growth.

But is he Patrick Mahomes good?

Tom Brady good?

Josh Allen or even Matthew Stafford good?

Mahomes, Brady and Stafford have won the Super Bowl at least once and Brady, you must know, has won it seven times.

But Murray in 2022 is going to make more than any of those guys.

Mahomes is set to make $29.45 million in base salary, roster bonus and workout bonus this year. Murray is going to get $29.7 million in base salary alone.

Murray is going to average $46.1 million per season on an annual basis. That means only Aaron Rodgers, whose average is $50 million per year, tops that.

This for a quarterback who has faded badly in the winter months of his three NFL seasons.

Murray has accounted for 51 TDs in September and October during his career. That number has dropped to 39 in November, December and January.

He’s averaged 302 passing and rushing yards per game in September and October. That drops to 274 yards in November, December and January.

And as a result the Cardinals have been 15-8-1 the past three years in September and October.

And they’ve been 7-15 in November, December and January.

None of this means Murray won’t improve. He can be better and earn every cent of the new contract he’s about to get.

But the point is the Cardinals are paying for potential they hope to see in the future, not something they’ve already witnessed.

Tampa Bay is paying for a quarterback who is a known quantity and quality. So is Buffalo with Josh Allen and the Chiefs with Mahomes.

What that means is the Cardinals on Thursday joined the group of NFL team paying their quarterback while simply hoping those players rise to their salaries.

And that’s a tough place to be in the NFL: Paying a quarterback big money but not necessarily getting big-money quarterback play in return.

More teams than you might think are in that uncomfortable situation.

The Tennessee Titans lead that pack. This year Ryan Tannehill is scheduled to carry a $38.6 salary cap charge. That is 18.3 percent of the entire Tennessee salary structure and the highest cap charge for any player in the NFL.

So is Ryan Tannehill likely to be the NFL’s best player in the coming season? Is he even expected to be his team’s best player?

Some within the Titans organization might hope that happens. But that’s the point. The Titans are operating on the hope their QB plays to his cap charge.

The Minnesota Vikings, Washington Commanders, and Detroit Lion find themselves in a similar tenuous situation of operating on hope.

Viking quarterback Kirk Cousins, a solid but not necessarily elite quarterback, is going to cost his team $31.4 million in cap charges. That is more than Rodgers ($28.3 million) is costing the division rival Packers against their cap. That’s more than Brady ($11.8 million) is costing the Buccaneers against their cap. That’s more than Russell Wilson ($24 million) is costing the Denver Broncos against their cap.

Is Cousins, more expensive to the Vikings than Rodgers, Brady, and Wilson are to their teams, better than any of those guys?

The Vikings are excited about Cousins under new coach Kevin O’Connell. But the chances Minnesota is going to get its comparative money’s worth are not high.

Detroit’s Jared Goff is costing the Lions $31.15 million against their cap this year. That’s more than Rodgers costs the Packers against their cap.

That sound you’re hearing is Packers fans laughing.

Carson Wentz, who is playing for his third team in three years, is scheduled to cost the Commanders $28.3 million against their salary cap.

Wentz’s cap charge is the NFL’s eighth highest right now.

Is Wentz the NFL’s eighth best player? Is he the league’s eighth best player at his position? Is he even the eighth best quarterback in his conference?

Washington hopes he will be.

And that’s the problem. Like several other teams with curious quarterback situations, the Commanders are paying very big money merely for a hope.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

4 Comments

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  1. I don’t understand the modern NFL salary structure, salary cap, and contracts. A lot of these guys are near the end of their careers are getting multi-year deals worth a ton but the money is somehow divvied up to remain under the cap (i.e. Von Miller in Buffalo). I don’t understand how Rodgers is slated to make $50M but his cap hit is only $28.3M. When these guys retire before the end of their respective contracts do the teams still take a cap hit? This is all very confusing. It’s like the salary cap isn’t even real haha.

    That said, I would not have paid Kyler all that money, feels like a desperation move and a reach. He good, but not that good. A contract full of incentives would make the most sense.

  2. “Deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it.” Now it will be hard to afford other players around him. Good luck building a winning team with so much money invested in one player. I am all for dudes getting paid but paying one guy so much has failed inumerable times in the past.

    • Heard that, but that’s half the league now. I think the days of having multiple years of good QB play on rookie contracts (i.e. Russ) may be a thing of the past. These guys now are setting precedent. Play 2+ above average seasons and they will be looking for a new contract. And they will get it because other teams are desperate enough.

  3. Teams are terrified of letting a QB walk, only to be better for another team. Its a tough spot to be in.

    Kyler Murray is not a top 3 QB but he is arguably a top 10. But that speaks more to the lack of good QBs in the NFL. While he has done nothing on the field to suggest he deserves that money, in a weird way, Arizona has no alternative

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