The Arizona Cardinals made Kyler Murray one of many highest paid quarterbacks within the NFL on Thursday, inking a brand new 5-year, $230M contract with $160 million assured. You recognize what? He’s value it.
Murray evokes angst on the subject of NFL followers. There have been lots of offended responses relating to Murray once I named him one of many High 5 quarterbacks within the league in my 2022 rankings. These rankings took into consideration bodily means, intangibles, and the supporting forged across the passer to take a look at their potential for achievement within the upcoming season.
To this finish, he passes each single check. The foremost criticism about Murray stems from the declare he “stop” on the group, as a result of he didn’t need to proceed a playoff sport towards the Rams with 1:05 left, down 34-11, in a sport the place he was pressured on 29.7 % of his dropbacks. We regularly prefer to reward quarterbacks for his or her smarts, and that was a wise rattling resolution. It won’t gel with overwrought gladiatorial soccer references about “self sacrifice,” however nothing Murray might have carried out would have turned that sport round towards the eventual Tremendous Bowl champions, and getting harm would have been disastrous.
The reality is, the sport the plan wasn’t working, the Rams protection smothered the Cardinals, and the group confirmed they merely weren’t able to push for a Tremendous Bowl … but.
Now I feel they is perhaps, and listed here are my causes because it pertains to Kyler Murray.
No. 1: He’s already an elite quarterback
I’m unsure the place this fable got here from that Murray isn’t a top-tier passer. I’ve additionally seen it mentioned that he’ll finally depart the league as a result of accidents, which appears extra couched in bias about his small body than any actuality. Within the final three years Murray has solely missed three video games, all in the identical stretch final season as a result of an ankle sprain.
If we extrapolate out Murray’s season to issue these three video games in, and pair them with the stats he already put up, we’re left with:
- 4,597 passing yards (seventh within the NFL)
- 29 passing touchdowns (ninth within the NFL)
- 12 interceptions (On par with Tom Brady, fewer than Patrick Mahomes)
- 69.2 % completion (2nd within the NFL)
- 7.9 yards per try (4th within the NFL)
- 100.6 passer ranking (eighth within the NFL)
You would possibly take a look at these and say “this doesn’t look elite,” however the fact is that it’s exceedingly uncommon to search out many passers who’re High 10 in nearly each related statistical space. In 2021 this slim group included Joe Burrow, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Kyler Murray … that’s it. This isn’t an argument to say that Murray is healthier than the likes of Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, however the actuality is that he was way more constant in each facet of quarterbacking final season. That’s what makes him an elite participant who’s within the dialog.
No. 2: Murray continues to get higher
We’ve established that as-is, Murray is already a high quarterback — however he additionally hasn’t proven any indicators of slowing down. We’ve seen regular development over his three years which point out he’s not but at his ceiling.
Certain, there’s an opportunity we noticed him attain the best possible he can in 2021, however the numbers don’t actually present that. In 2021 Murray …
- Improved his completion share by 2 %
- Improved his TD share by 0.3 %
- Improved his passing yards per sport by 22.3
- Improved his passer ranking by 6.3
- Improved his yards-per-attempt by 0.8
- Improved his internet yards-per-attempt by 0.35
- Lowered his INT share by 0.1 %
- Lowered his Professional Soccer Reference sack share index by 13
These are comparatively small, incremental enhancements — however the truth stays that he did enhance in each main space as properly. It won’t be the type of enormous, one-year jumps that individuals like to see out of gamers, however this sort of regular enchancment can also be indicative of reliability. There’s a lot much less of an opportunity of seeing him snap again to the imply consequently, vs. somebody like Jameis Winston who threw for a league-best 5,109 yards in 2019, but it surely was clearly idiot’s gold.
If we additionally consider that the Cardinals are making a giant leap of their receiving corps this upcoming season with Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown and a full season of Deandre Hopkins (who missed seven video games) and the desk is about for bigger features to be made sooner or later.
No. 3: He’s younger, and he will get the offense
Maybe the biggest consider a contract of this quantity is that there’s completely zero danger of athletic deterioration as a result of age. Murray received’t even by 30 by the point his contract is up, which means it is a very low danger for a contract of this kind. Sure, a serious harm might derail issues — however that’s true of each quarterback.
The rationale Murray has had a lot early success is that he’s in full lockstep with head coach Kliff Kingsbury on the subject of working the Cardinals’ offense. It’s exhausting to discover a higher coach/quarterback mixture within the NFL, and with Kingsbury bringing enchancment to Arizona he’s not going wherever. The 2 ought to be collectively for everything of this 5 yr deal, and that’s vital too.
Now we get to the Ravens screwing up …
With regards to NFL quarterbacks no one is extra closely scrutinized about whether or not they’re “elite” than Lamar Jackson. Jackson, who was drafted in 2018, is in want of a brand new contract. He additionally continues a time-honored custom of individuals being unable to take a look at a participant holistically, fairly than holding a participant as much as an archetype and recognizing the issues.
Jackson is an advanced passer to look at. A part of that is his house run play-style each along with his legs and arms, that goals to choose up yards in bunches fairly than patiently transfer the chains. It’s difficult by the truth that outdoors of Hollywood Brown (who the group traded to assist Kyler Murray), Jackson has actually been with no strong group of receivers for his total skilled profession.
Jackson solely had one receiver complete greater than 750 yards throughout his 2019 MVP yr. He preferred to unfold the ball round to a wide range of open choices to gash defenses. Since that point he’s been boxed in additional, with the Ravens’ depth at receiver languishing, and his reliance on Andrews and Brown intensifying — which is antithetical to his playstyle, which preys on what defenses give him.
Nevertheless, on the subject of Jackson there’s one absolute undeniable fact: He wins. In 2021 alone he orchestrated 4 game-winning drives off fourth quarter comebacks. As a quarterback he’s prepared and capable of put a group on his again in crunch time and lead them.
One would assume that after 4 seasons the Ravens understood the participant they’d, however as an alternative Baltimore elected to take a seat on their arms and see how the marketplace for quarterbacks performed out. Now they’re poised to lose thousands and thousands by ready, however they need to anyway — as a result of not re-signing Jackson can be the stupidest factor on the planet.
A yr in the past the Payments elected to increase Josh Allen, signing him to a 6 yr, $258M contract with an AAV of $43M. That won’t get the deal carried out now, until Jackson is feeling exceedingly beneficiant. Now it can probably price $45-46M AAV, with a good portion of the contract assured — which has develop into extra of a frequency in NFL quarterback negotiations.
The character of Murray and Jackson are inexorably linked. Each are unfairly scrutinized, dual-threat quarterbacks seeking to receives a commission. Now the Cardinals have forged their lot on a deal that makes lots of sense. Jackson may need declare to much more cash as a former MVP let down by the forged round him for the final two seasons, however we’ll want to attend to see how that performs out.
No matter what occurs subsequent two issues are true: Kyler Murray was well worth the cash, and Lamar Jackson is just too.