Star quarterback Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals are coming off yet another late-season meltdown. This is something that has defined Kliff Kingsbury-led teams dating back to his college days.
For Murray, the quarterback’s performance in Arizona’s NFC Wild Card Playoff loss to the eventual conference champion Los Angeles Rams was absolutely brutal. It led to speculation about his status as the Cardinals’ future franchise quarterback.
There’s a couple backdrops to all of this, too. Murray is eligible for an extension for the first time in his career this offseason. Given what Arizona’s brass knows about him, is this something the team will offer up? Meanwhile, the former Heisman winner scrubbed all mention of the Arizona Cardinals from his social media pages in recent days. That’s not on accident. In fact, his agent recently refused to even comment on that.
While it remains somewhat unlikely, there’s a decent chance that things have soured behind the scenes to the extent that Murray is traded this offseason. If so, here’s a look at five ideal blockbuster trade scenarios.
Related: Updated NFL trade rumors
Philadelphia Eagles add Kyler Murray in huge trade
- Eagles get: Kyler Murray
- Cardinals get: Jalen Hurts, Kenneth Gainwell, two 2022 first-round picks
Is Philadelphia committed to Hurts after he led the team to the playoffs in his first full season as a starter? Common logic suggests that’s the case. However, acquiring a more-talented version of Hurts with previous success at the NFL level could very well be in the cards for general manager Howie Roseman. Hence, the team’s previous flirtation with a Deshaun Watson trade.
Boasting three first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, Philadelphia more than has the assets to pull off a blockbuster of this ilk. Heck, it would still leave the team with one top-32 selection come April. Just imagine DeVonta Smith catching passes from Mr. Murray. How sexy!
In turn, Arizona ends up with three first-round selections in the 2022 NFL Draft. It also adds a starter-caliber quarterback in Hurts who might not be a huge downgrade from Murray. As for Hurts, he’d have better weapons in the desert with DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk. Heck, general manager Steve Keim could use this new-found treasure trove of picks to acquire more proven talent in an NFC West that’s loaded.
Arizona Cardinals send Kyler Murray to the Cleveland Browns
- Browns get: Kyler Murray
- Cardinals get: Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, 2022 first-round pick
A trade involving two former No. 1 picks? This isn’t the NBA. That will be the response from some. However, it must be noted that Baker Mayfield joins Murray as a quarterback with a questionable contract situation. Following a down and drama-filled 2021 season, Cleveland seems intent on having Mayfield play out the final year of his rookie contract. That could end up being a recipe for disaster given his enigmatic ways.
- Baker Mayfield stats (2021): 61% completion, 3,010 yards, 17 TD, 13 INT, 83.1 rating
As you can see, the former Heisman winner struggled big time in 2021 after putting up a breakout 2020 performance. Arizona would be betting that a change of scenery would do him well. Sure he’s not on the same level as Murray. That’s why the Browns are forced to deal away one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL in that of two-time Pro Bowler Denzel Ward to make this work.
For Arizona, cornerback continues to be a major need. That’s especially true with the likes of Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett existing in the NFC West.
Kyler Murray heads to Sin City
- Raiders get: Kyler Murray
- Cardinals get: Derek Carr, 2022 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick
Depending on who you ask, new head coach Josh McDaniels is sold on Derek Carr moving forward. Whether that’s actually the case remains to be seen. With a completely new brass in Las Vegas, general manager Dave Ziegler included, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.
What we do know is that Carr was not on firm standing under the previous regime. Despite leading Vegas to a surprise playoff appearance and acting as a leader during trying off-field times, there’s a darn good chance that the Raiders will be looking for an upgrade. Imagine Murray working his magic in Sin City with a retooled Raiders front office. It’s the type of blockbuster move that defined the brilliant era of the late-great Al Davis.
As for the Cardinals, this would pretty much be a no-brainer if they are to move off Murray. They acquire a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback who is still in the prime of his career. A more prototypical quarterback who could do his thing with DeAndre Hopkins. Picking up two future first-round picks to build with moving forward would make this a coup in the desert.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers go big-game hunting
- Buccaneers get: Kyler Murray
- Cardinals get: Ali Marpet, Antoine Winfield Jr., 2022 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, future first-round pick
No matter what the Buccaneers tell us pubicly, the retirement of Tom Brady had to catch this team off guard. Said retirement came less than a calendar year after Brady led Tampa back to relevance with a Super Bowl title. In short, these Buccaneers are built to win short-term.
Why not double down on this roster with one of the most-talented young quarterbacks in the NFL? It would be a way to find a happy medium between short-term success and long-term contention. If the Bucs keep this roster together, Murray could lead it to Super Bowl contention. It also doesn’t hurt that he’d be working under former Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich in the same role with the Buccaneers.
However, this trade is a bit more problematic for Arizona. It would likely be the organization’s way of accepting a rebuild should be in the cards in an NFC West that boasts the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Acquiring Marpet and Winfield Jr. would give them two Pro Bowl players who have yet to hit their prime. Meanwhile, three early-round draft picks could help this squad rebuild on the fly.
Kyler Murray for Deshaun Watson mega blockbuster
- Texans get: Kyler Murray, Rondale Moore, 2022 first-round pick
- Cardinals get: Deshaun Watson
Let’s get crazy without getting too crazy. That’s the definition of this seemingly outlandish trade. That’s also just on the surface. There’s not an objective mind out there who wouldn’t view Deshaun Watson as an upgrade over Murray. At least, from an on-field perspective.
- Deshaun Watson career stats: 68% completion, 14,539 passing yards, 1,677 rushing yards, 121 total TD, 36 INT
- Kyler Murray career stats: 67% completion, 11,480 passing yards, 1,786 rushing yards, 90 total TD, 34 INT
Obviously, it’s all about Watson’s legal situation. He’s facing allegations from north of 20 women of sexual misconduct. A grand jury will also soon come out with its findings. Having sat out the entire 2021 season after requesting a trade, findings in Watson’s favor would lead to his return to the NFL in 2022.
This makes sense for both teams in the grand scheme of things. Arizona acquires one of the top-four young quarterbacks in the NFL — one that is already under contract long-term. As for Houston, new head coach Lovie Smith rids himself of the Watson-centric drama while picking up a stud young receiver in Rondale Moore and another first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.