Cards Sign Round 1 WR Marvin Harrison Jr.

Marvin Harrison Jr. will enter Cardinals training camp as the team’s highest-ceiling wide receiver prospect in 20 years. This year’s No. 4 overall pick will not carry any contract drama into Arizona’s minicamp; the team signed its top draft choice Thursday.

The Ohio State prospect, who is following his father as a first-round NFL draft choice, will be tied to a fully guaranteed rookie deal that runs through 2027. Viewed as one of the highest-floor WR prospects to ever enter the draft, Harrison can be kept through 2028 on this contract via the fifth-year option. It is a $35.37MM deal.

With none of the quarterbacks chosen in the top three signed yet, Harrison is the first of this year’s top-five draftees to ink his rookie contract. The fifth-year option was not in place when Larry Fitzgerald signed his rookie deal in 2004, though the future Hall of Famer lasted quite a bit longer with the team, playing 17 seasons. Marvin Harrison Sr. played 13 in the NFL — all with the Colts. High expectations will be placed on the Hall of Famer’s son.

With Kyler Murray locked in as the team’s starting quarterback, the Cardinals were closely tied to trading down from No. 4. Arizona’s draft slot was viewed as a place QB-seeking teams could jump to for one of the non-Caleb Williams/Jayden Daniels prospects. Drake Maye generated extensive trade interest, as it turned out, with the Giants and Vikings offering the Patriots future first-rounders for their No. 3 draft slot. Interest in the other QBs did not lead to similar aggression, and the Cardinals — after trading down from No. 3 overall last year — stayed at 4 and selected their new WR1. Close Cards connections to Harrison emerged well before Round 1.

The Cardinals received at least two trade offers to move off No. 4, but GM Monti Ossenfort said no proposal was strong enough to convince the team to move out of Harrison range. Had the Cardinals traded down to No. 6 (via the Giants), they would have risked losing Harrison. Moving to 11 (the Vikings’ slot) would have all but certainly sent the second-generation WR prospect elsewhere. Carrying major questions at receiver going into the draft, the Cards will plug Harrison into their lineup. The 6-foot-4 talent will be expected to become Arizona’s top receiver as a rookie.

Arizona released DeAndre Hopkins last May and, despite talks about re-signing Marquise Brown, let the 2022 trade acquisition (and ex-Murray Oklahoma teammate) walk in free agency. The team has since added veteran starter Zay Jones to team with 2023 third-rounder Michael Wilson, but Harrison is the clear centerpiece of the rebuilding club’s receiving corps.

While some teams viewed Malik Nabers as a higher-ceiling prospect and a more explosive player, Harrison checks just about every box. Harrison carried a high enough pedigree as a prospect he was able to pass on Combine participation and pro day work. The Harrison camp’s plan featured training for an NFL offseason program, not pre-draft workouts. Few prospects can pull off this itinerary; Harrison being able to — and seeing it not dock his draft stock — illustrates the league’s view of his potential.

A crisp route runner who brings a desired size-speed combination, Harrison averaged north of 16 yards per reception in 2022 and ’23. With a hamstring injury shutting down Jaxon Smith-Njigba for longer than expected in 2022, Harrison broke through and became the Buckeyes’ go-to weapon. He totaled 14 touchdown catches in both 2022 and ’23, topping 1,200 receiving yards in both seasons. Viewed as this draft’s top wideout prospect for months ahead of the event, Harrison will get to work on establishing a rapport with Murray ahead of Drew Petzing‘s second season as Cards OC.

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