The Coleumn: I’m not sold on Kyler Murray 

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) talk after their game at State Farm Stadium. Photo by Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

When one thinks of quarterbacks in the National Football League, they think of stars such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. These are the people that lead their teams through thick and thin while slinging the ball to wide receivers and tight ends.  

There is one quarterback out there with the speed and running abilities of Jackson, the arm of Herbert and the potential of Matthew Stafford. That person is Kyler Murray, the quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals who went first overall in the 2019 NFL Draft and won a Heisman Trophy at the University of Oklahoma. There are people who think that he is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, but I am not one of them. 

Until Tom Brady and/or Aaron Rodgers retires, I do not believe that Murray is a top 10 quarterback in the league. He has gotten more offensive weapons via trade to help him improve as the seasons go by, whether it is DeAndre Hopkins or Marquise Brown, but I feel like he does less with more rather than make the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender. 

I have not bought into the hype around Murray since his NFL career began. In his rookie campaign in 2019, Murray threw for 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while rushing for 544 yards and four touchdowns. That same season, Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who also was a first-round pick, dashed for a career-high 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns.  

Murray took home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award when Jacobs clearly deserved it. This is solely based on my opinion, but when a running back rushes for over 1,000 yards in his rookie season, he should be named OROTY, especially in today’s pass-heavy game (Najee Harris is an exception because Ja’Marr Chase existed in 2021). 

Murray has had some amazing plays in the past that flash brilliance, whether it was the infinitely long two-point conversion against the Raiders in Week 2 or the “Hail Murray” against the Buffalo Bills in 2020. Despite these plays and strong season numbers, he does not perform at a high level on a weekly basis. If I am being completely honest, the second play happened because Hopkins’ leapt over three Bills’ defenders to make the game-winning catch. If Murray wants to be considered as one of the best in the league, he needs to run the ball for at least 50 yards and throw for over 200 yards per game. 

Murray also does not have the playoff pedigree that other quarterbacks do. He led the Cardinals to the playoffs once in his first three seasons, but by the time they made it to the Wild Card Round in 2021, they were suffering a second-half collapse similar to the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers. The eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams blew the doors off of them in SoFi Stadium and sent Murray home disappointed. 

It is one thing to talk about Murray’s talents, but it is another to talk about his maturity. Approaching the final year of his rookie contract, Murray spent the 2022 offseason discussing extension terms with his team. Like most negotiations, there were turbulent times and the struggles to earn more money lasted for months on end. 

When discussions did not appear to go his way in February, he did what most dissatisfied players do and scrubbed any affiliation with the Cardinals off of his social media pages. Negotiations got tense to the point where his camp released a 484-word statement regarding the scrambling quarterback’s future. I understand he wanted the big bucks because he made it in the NFL, but he needed to earn that money rather than have it given to him. 

He came around and the two sides agreed to a five-year, $230.5 million extension that keeps him in the desert until 2028. The deal itself has an annual salary of $46.1 million, the third-highest value in the NFL and is a little over the Oakland Athletics’ opening day payroll of $47.7 million. Despite the handsome extension, one clause in the contract irked me. 

Until the Cardinals’ front office removed it in July, Murray had to engage in at least four hours of independent film study per week from the start of training camp until Arizona’s last game of the season. Most elite quarterbacks take the time to review opposing film in order to improve their craft and win games, but the fact that this had to be explicitly written in his contract signifies that he may not have been watching film as much as the Cardinals wanted him to. 

Murray has not lived up to earning the money in his new contract this season, even though the extension does not kick in until 2023. Through five games, he has 1,241 passing yards for six touchdowns with 133 yards on the ground, but his quarterback rating is as low as it ever has been. There are still 12 games left this season, but Murray currently ranks in the middle of the pack in the passing categories and needs to do better to be considered a top talent. 

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (2) talks to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) during the postgame at State Farm Stadium. Photo by Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports.

This is not meant to vilify him in any way. Murray is a remarkable player who has the abilities to alter a franchise like most top draft picks should. He just has not proven his true potential yet, and that is why the argument for him being an elite player in today’s game is overrated. 

Murray is not a bust — as proven by his new contract—  but if he wants to be an elite quarterback, he needs to improve his passing game, continue to mature and prove that he can win in the playoffs. Until he meets all three of those criteria or receives MVP votes in a season, I am not sold on Kyler Murray. 

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