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What to make of Kyler Murray missing OTAs and what he can accomplish in 2022

Crissy Froyd

The Arizona Cardinals, with quarterback Kyler Murray at the helm, held the longest undefeated streak in the NFL in 2021 at seven wins before falling 24-21 to the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 28. Arizona finished with an 11-6 record, making a short-lived postseason run as they fell 34-11 to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card Game.

Murray was a factor both through the air and on the ground, completing 69.2% of his passes for 3,787 yards with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, adding 423 rushing yards and five rushing scores. Traditionally praised for athleticism, he is one of the best quarterbacks on deep throws, earning the highest PFF grade (98.8) on throws of 20 yards or more over the last two seasons.

He’ll look to hold strong on that going into his fourth season in Arizona.

What’s to make of Murray not attending OTAs?

Murray chose to sit out of voluntary workouts, sparking a lot of conversations regarding his clear desire to sign a new contract. This is an issue that overall is not much to be concerned about in terms of this season — Cardinals’ general manager Steve Keim has already said there is “zero chance” Murray gets traded after the team picked up the quarterback’s fifth-year option this offseason, keeping him under contract through 2023.

Murray’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, released a statement back in February indicating Murray wanted to remain with the Cardinals for the long-term as the team’s starting quarterback. The two phrases in bold and all capitals were “HE ABSOLUTELY WANTS TO BE YOUR LONG TERM QB” and “HE DESPERATELY WANTS TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL.”

However, the statement also suggested a call-to-action with a final heading reading “actions speak louder than words in this business.”

“It is now simply up to the Cardinals to decide if they prioritize their rapidly improving, 24-year old, already 2x Pro Bowl QB, who lead the organization from 3 wins before his arrival to 11 wins and their first playoff appearance in 5 years. Or rather, if they choose to financially prioritize committing to other areas and continuing to merely talk about addressing Kyler’s long term future as their QB. Unfortunately, every player, coach, and executive in the NFL knows (or should know) that words and hypothetical contractual promises are regularly dismissed and fleeting in this business.”

Statement from Kyler Murray’s agent Erik Burkhardt

In an interview on the Pat McAfee Show, Keim highlighted the role of timing in negotiations and expressed confidence a long-term deal would be worked out.

Related: Arizona Cardinals GM expects Kyler Murray contract extension this summer

“I just think it’s a timing thing. Every quarterback that’s done it before has done it anywhere from July to September.”

Arizona Cardinals GM Steve Keim on a potential contact extension for Kyler Murray

If anything is clear though, it’s that this team is invested in Murray and views him as a major piece of the success it has had.

“He is our future,” Keim added. “We feel that way strongly and I feel like we’ll be able to get something done this summer.”

Current projections have Murray’s deal at $46 million per year or more after it was previously rumored that Burkhardt’s contract offer to the Cardinals earlier in the offseason was an average of $40 million per year. Pro Football Focus recently released a projection for Murray’s upcoming contract that would have him signing a six-year deal worth $280 million with $155 million guaranteed.

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This hypothetical contract puts him at an average salary of $46.7 million per season, which would make him among the league’s highest-paid quarterbacks. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers currently brings in $50.3 million annually, while Cleveland Browns signal-caller Deshaun Watson makes $46 million per year.

It will be interesting to see just how much longer it takes for an agreement to be made, though it looks like negotiations will continue for at least another month and the deal ultimately reached is now more than just expected to end up being more costly for Arizona.

Murray’s decision to not attend OTAs doesn’t seem to be ruffling the feathers of teammates like tight end Zach Ertz, either. Many of the Cardinals’ veterans are understanding of Murray and the other absent players choosing not to attend voluntary workouts.

“I wish we had 100 percent attendance but at the end of the day, this year, my situation is very straightforward,” Ertz told Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “I’ve also been in the situation when it wasn’t a good situation for me to be at OTAs, so I empathize with everyone.”

Related: Arizona Cardinals ‘budgeted’ for new Kyler Murray deal

“The guys who aren’t here,” Ertz said, “are still working their butt off.”

Murray is expected to be back with the team in time for mandatory minicamp from June 14-16.

What can Kyler Murray and the Cardinals accomplish in 2022?

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Murray and his camp have already made clear he wants to bring the Lombardi Trophy home while sporting the Red and White. But how quickly will that happen? Arizona showed just how successful it could be last year

The quarterback gained a new weapon in wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, trading a first-round pick in order to bring on Murray’s former teammate. Some found it unwise of the Cardinals to give up such an important selection, but it could easily pay off with the chemistry that already exists between the two players. Furthermore, Brown’s ability as a vertical threat is sure to strengthen head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s rendition of the Air Raid offense. This should help with the fact standout receiver Deandre Hopkins is suspended for six weeks.

The Cardinals have a good amount of talent on the roster with Murray being one of the headliners, but this is a group that lacks depth overall and could see some struggles if they’re plagued with the injury bug at any point this season.

There isn’t proven talent to rely on and know they can win with if they’re to lose players like Murray, running back James Conner or defensive end J.J. Watt. Arizona will also need to see edge rushers Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas step up after losing Chandler Jones to free agency. Ultimately, how well they do that will have a good bit to do with the defense’s overall success in 2022.

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It’s easy to see the array of question marks there, but this is a team that has already proven it can contend. If they can sort out the answers to some of these depth issues over time, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cardinals win the big game within the next three seasons and if the team stays healthy overall, they’ll very much be in the postseason dance this fall.