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Aaron Rodgers ain’t gonna like this. In only his third season in the NFL, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is already being empowered with input into what his team does on the transaction wire.
Don’t take some writer’s word for it, though. This comes directly from the top, as Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed as much in addressing the media from training camp, per ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss:
Murray was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma, where he won the Heisman Trophy in his only year as the Sooners’ starter.
After an uneven rookie campaign on a struggling team, Arizona surrounded Murray with better talent in 2020, most notably in the form of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The results were evident, as Murray made strides as a passer and became more dangerous as a runner.
The Cardinals have continued to be rather aggressive in stockpiling talent to their roster entering this new season. It seems as though Murray has personally influenced that initiative.
The inevitable Kyler Murray-Aaron Rodgers fan theory that’ll emerge from this story
Remember when there was the potential heartwarming narrative of the legendary J.J. Watt having a homecoming to the Green Bay Packers in free agency? Well, that didn’t come to pass. He landed in Arizona instead.
While the Packers’ front office was squabbling and staging a misguided standoff with Rodgers this offseason, the Cardinals were busy making moves — most notably adding Watt to their already-solid front seven.
Maybe Watt was a splashy move for the sake of one, yet it showed Arizona was loading up to win right now.
It’s at least possible to suggest that Murray, thanks to his personnel input, more or less outdid the elder Rodgers — who was coming off an MVP season and back-to-back NFC title game appearances — and successfully recruited Watt to the desert.
We heard Rodgers speak his mind to the NFL world. He held nothing back about how he thought outgoing veterans were slighted, and emphasized his desire to at least be involved in discussions that would impact his job.
Kyler Murray’s contract status, NFC West have influenced Cardinals’ personnel decisions
- Kyler Murray stats (2020, Arizona Cardinals): 375-of-558 passing (67.2%), 3,971 yards, 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions; 133 carries, 819 yards, 11 TDs
You have to admire the Cardinals’ leadership for consulting with Murray about prospective moves. Heck, general manager Steve Kiem drafted Murray one year after trading into the top 10 to select UCLA QB Josh Rosen, so it behooves him to do whatever it takes to make that bold call work.
But let’s not get distracted from the main point. Obviously, moving off Rosen for Murray was a no-brainer great call.
The fact that Murray is on a rookie contract and isn’t due a massive payday yet is plenty reason enough for the Cardinals to go all-out in their efforts to contend for a championship.
Murray is probably imploring them to be aggressive, knowing that he’s going to be a massive salary cap hit down the road. He’s smart enough to realize that there’s only a limited window of time to surround him with stars Arizona couldn’t afford otherwise.
While it’s easy for an organization to say they’re not thinking about what goes on elsewhere, it’d be impossible and stupid for the Cardinals to ignore what their division rivals have done.
The Los Angeles Rams are in perpetual attack mode, evident in their penchant for trading first-round picks, highlighted by their move from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford this offseason. That’s not dissimilar to the way the Seattle Seahawks have made aggressive transactions, such as the Jamal Adams trade, to keep their Super Bowl window open during Russell Wilson‘s prime.
So yeah, it’s an absolute arms race in the NFC West, and to their credit, the Cards are doing their best to keep pace while keeping their QB in the loop. Whether it’s enough in 2021 or not largely comes down to how well Murray plays.