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Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray reportedly not ‘eager to play’ in 2022 on current contract

Matt Johnson

Arizona Cardinals and star quarterback Kyler Murray sees the direction the league is headed with the highest paid NFL players getting lucrative contracts with guaranteed money. The 24-year-old wants his share, even if it means causing more headaches for Arizona.

All of the turmoil started in early February when the 24-year-old quarterback wiped all references to the Cardinals off his social media. Teammate Christian Kirk poured fueled on the fire of NFL trade rumors and Arizona’s front office added to the drama with leaked reports calling Murray ‘self-centered and immature.’

Related: Kyler Murray trade unlikely, team ‘budgeted’ for new contract

Cooler heads prevailed, for a few weeks. The two sides were on the same page shortly before Murray’s agent released a lengthy letter asking for a new contract. Everything quieted down around the 2022 NFL Draft, but it seems the tension and drama could be stirred up again this summer.

  • Kyler Murray stats (2021): 3,787 passing yards, 423 rushing yards, 100.6 QB rating, 29 total TDs

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Murray “won’t be too eager” to play for the Cardinals in 2022 if it means taking the field on his rookie contract. Scheduled to earn just $11.4 million in salary and bonuses this year, Murray is one of the lowest-paid starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

It’s not a situation he wants to be in, especially in a violent game where one play could derail a career and a few bad performances could reshape a player’s reputation. While the Cardinals seem willing to sign Murray to a contract extension, negotiations haven’t gone well this offseason.

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On the surface, rushing into contract negotiations seems like a bad idea. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is taking the opposite approach to Murray. He’s not interested in negotiating a contract right now, despite Baltimore’s desire to sign a long-term deal.

The rationale is simple. Jackson knows there is a lot more money on the open market with quarterback-desperate teams willing to pay whatever the cost for a star who can also be the face of the franchise. Meanwhile, the Ravens’ quarterback also knows the cap is going to skyrocket in the coming years.

  • Kyler Murray career stats (rushing): 1,776 rushing yards, 20 rushing touchdowns in 46 games

Murray sees things a different way. The former Oklahoma Sooners star recognizes what happened to Baker Mayfield. The Cleveland Browns quarterback was viewed as an extension candidate in 2021, projected to get around $30 million per season and a long-term deal. Instead, he played out the season and is now a backup in Cleveland with very few teams interested in acquiring him.

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It would seem like that shouldn’t be a concern for Murray. He’s played at a far higher level than Mayfield ever did in Cleveland. However, it’s worth noting that Murray posted a 7-5 TD-INT ratio with a pedestrian 86.5 quarterback rating in his final seven regular-season starts last year. In the Wild Card round loss to the Los Angeles Rams, he threw two interceptions and completed just 40.9% of his pass attempts.

Related: Kyler Murray trade request ‘on table’ if contract talks go poorly

While injuries and issues with the Cardinals’ offense played a role in that, Murray saw what can go wrong for him and others. There is more money to be made by waiting if everything goes right, but the 24-year-old wants the security right now. Even if he loses some money in the long term, he could make it back by signing a short-term extension with Arizona to cash in again before his age-29 season.