Kyler Murray Extension Isn’t The Issue With The Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals have signed Kyler Murray to an extension. It’s a fine move, but the organization as a whole is baffling.

While training camp is getting underway with rookies trickling in, everyone will be in camp in less than a week. We have been on extension watch with a couple quarterbacks, and the first domino has fallen. Kyler Murray has received a mega-extension from the Arizona Cardinals, a five-year deal that is worth up to $230.5 million and has $160 million guaranteed. Both Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter were on the news.

Many analysts and fans will look to this as an overpay, and that’s fine relative to other extensions signed by top quarterbacks. Ultimately though, in a growing salary cap, more room will be available for these monster deals at quarterback. A player like Murray may be a bit unproven, but the physical skill set is rare.

So as to the extension, it’s a fine call to make. Why risk the lottery of the NFL Draft once again to find the guy when that guy (with some fine tuning) is already in your building? Murray’s numbers may not jump off the screen, but he plays efficient football with a low interception percentage and his average yards gained per attempt is on a steady rise. So why is Murray’s play a bit uninspiring at times? Part of that can be attributed to organizational philosophy.

Back in March, it was announced that both head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim signed extensions through the 2027 season. That came as a shock to many, especially because it was only Kingsbury’s first winning season in Arizona (a season, though, that featured a predictable second half fall).

Let’s start with Keim, who, funny enough, was executive of the year in his first season as general manager for the Arizona Cardinals. Early in his tenure, he was hitting very well on third round picks (Tyrann Mathieu in ’13, John Brown in ’14, David Johnson in ’15) and found a franchise left tackle in D.J. Humphries.

Defensive back scouting has been a strength of this organization, hitting on the aforementioned Mathieu along with Budda Baker and a slot stud in Byron Murphy. Other than that, though, misses have been very significant. Taking a chance on the uber-talented Robert Nkemdiche didn’t work, and moving for Josh Rosen was a disaster. It was smart to move on early to get Kyler Murray.

The linebacker position has been especially troubling. They couldn’t find a home for Haason Reddick, only for him to play impressive ball once he left. They went linebacker in back-to-back years with Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins, only to not see early results there. Simmons playing traditional linebacker rather than getting moved around has been an interesting choice.

Let’s not forget about the offensive line. Humphries has been the stalwart at left tackle, and Rodney Hudson has been a helpful veteran presence, but outside of that? Not much. They’re trying to patchwork it, bringing in vets that didn’t work out like Will Hernandez and drafting guys on day three. This writer likes both Lecitus Smith and Marquis Hayes at those values, but with this offensive line, more than dart throws are needed.

As for Kingsbury, the offense has been overly simplistic, with a ton of vertical shot plays, check down looks in spacing concepts, a ton of empty, and so much that asks everything of Kyler Murray to make a play outside the pocket teetering on the supernatural. They added Murray’s buddy from Oklahoma, Marquise Brown, to further evidence this idea.

So, it’s great that the WR room is better, they still have James Conner, but then they drafted Trey McBride with two solid tight ends in house already. The offensive line is being ignored, and finding their identity on defense is a tough ask. It’s still a team that will lean on Murray to do the improbable at times, and gamble on defense.

So yes, getting the Kyler Murray deal done was a must, but there isn’t anyone in house who is going to further his development as a passer, or help him enough when he eventually loses a step as a runner to father time. The Arizona Cardinals are a uniquely difficult organization to understand, and getting a better direction will help realize the full potential of this extension.