Cardinals HC: As Long As I’m Here, Kyler Murray Can Be Here

Back in February, newly-hired Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon said he would not have taken the job if not for the presence of quarterback Kyler Murray, and he discussed his plans to maximize Murray’s talents. Murray, who was one of the players consulted in Arizona’s HC search, has likewise spoken highly of Gannon.

Of course, the diminutive signal-caller will begin the season on the PUP list as he continues his recovery from a torn ACL and meniscus that he suffered towards the end of the 2022 season. And the Cardinals, who have one of the league’s weakest rosters and who are clearly in a rebuild, could end up with two top-10 (or even top-five) picks in the 2024 draft, putting them in prime position to land an elite collegiate quarterback like USC’s Caleb Williams.

That reality has led to considerable speculation that Arizona could seek to move on from Murray — who is slated to carry a $51.86MM cap figure in 2024 — next offseason. Indeed, as Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required) notes, the club would be saddled with a relatively modest $13MM dead money charge if it were to trade Murray with a post-June 1 designation next year.

However, Gannon is, as expected, shooting down any such chatter. “I’m completely convicted,” the rookie HC said. “As long as I’m here, [Murray] can be here.”

Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports hears that the Cardinals are pleased with Murray’s work ethic and study habits, as well as the strides he has made in his injury rehab. The two-time Pro Bowler could return to the field by the end of October, which would afford him roughly a half-season in new OC Drew Petzing‘s scheme.

“He loves ball, he loves ball,” Gannon said of Murray. “That was the other thing, the narrative on him — completely wrong. Completely wrong. Everything I’ve asked him to do, he’s done, more so. Have I challenged some of his actions that I didn’t love? Yes, and I’ve talked to him about it.”

It would obviously be ideal for Arizona if Murray can return to his pre-2022 form. A rebuilding team needs a franchise passer, and no matter how good of a propsect Williams or UNC’s Drake Maye might be, the Cards would much rather eschew spending a top-10 selection on a QB for the third time in seven years and to instead use their high-end draft capital — in addition to their own first-round pick, they also own the 2024 first-round choice of the Texans, another rebuilding outfit — to add premium talent to other areas of the roster.

Plus, rival executives tell Jeff Howe of The Athletic (subscription required) that Murray’s contract might not actually be tradeable. Even if Arizona’s own dead money burden would be manageable, an acquiring team would still be on the hook for the QB’s $37MM base salary in 2024 absent any pay-down on the part of the Cardinals.

Much can change between Week 1 and Week 18. But for now, the plan is to keep Murray in the desert for the forseeable future.

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