Following yet another late-season meltdown, Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals are headed home for the winter.
Losers of four out of five heading into Monday night’s NFC Wild Card Playoff Game against the Los Angeles Rams, the Cardinals were absolutely embarrassed on the road.
Arizona found itself down 21-0 at the halftime by virtue of an ugly Murray pick-six in the second quarter. It did not get any better from there with the Rams opening up the third quarter with a 75-yard touchdown-scoring drive en route to winning by the score of 34-11.
As much as we want to talk about Kliff Kingsbury’s performance as the Arizona Cardinals head coach, Murray has not done himself any favors. There’s now a legit question whether he can be seen as the Cards’ franchise quarterback moving forward.
Kyler Murray regressed as a third-year player
It’s actually pretty interesting to look at. Murray was getting some early-season NFL MVP hype after putting up nine total touchdowns in his first two games.
All said, Arizona started out 7-0 while averaging 35.1 points per game. It’s been completely downhill since with Murray tallying nine total touchdowns compared to seven interceptions in the Cardinals’ final eight games, Monday’s playoff loss included. In fact, Murray was much better as a sophomore in 2020 than he was this past season.
- Kyler Murray stats (2020): 67.2% completion, 3,971 passing yards, 819 rushing yards, 37 total touchdowns, 12 INT
- Kyler Murray stats (2021): 69.2% completion, 3,787 passing yards, 423 rushing yards, 29 total touchdowns, 5 INT
The one good thing here is a lack of giveaways from Murray prior to Monday’s two-interception performance. However, he was not anywhere near as electric in 2021 as we saw back in 2020. The loss of DeAndre Hopkins to a season-ending injury also impacted Murray big time.
Arizona Cardinals and Kyler Murray contract situation
Wrapping up his third season in the NFL, Murray will be eligible to sign a contract extension once March comes calling. On the surface, the belief is that Arizona should wrap up an extension rather soon. That’s especially true given how the quarterback market has played out over the years.
The question here is value and what Murray might demand. He’s obviously seen as a step below recently-extended quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Dak Prescott. That’s not even in question right now.
- Patrick Mahomes contract: 10 years, $450 Million
- Josh Allen contract: 6 years, $258 million
- Dak Prescott contract: 4 years, $160 million
It’s also highly unlikely that the Cardinals will offer up the $39 million Deshaun Watson is making annually on his deal with the Houston Texans.
So, what is the middle ground here? It’s complicated.
However, it’s all about how general manager Steve Keim views Murray moving forward. There’s been a major disconnect between the front office and head coach Kliff Kingsbury when it comes to roster building. That could lead to Kingsbury being a surprise fire. If so, Murray’s future with the Cardinals becomes less etched in stone.
What we do know is that these Cardinals are a second-tier team in the NFC West behind two teams in the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers who are playing in the NFL Divisional Playoffs.
Some of the blame should be placed on Kyler Murray.