Kyler Murray

Cardinals’ Keim On Kyler Murray, Josh Rosen

The Cardinals completely revamped their quarterback room this offseason by drafting Kyler Murray No. 1 overall. Drafting Murray meant ditching another talented young quarterback in Josh Rosen, which raised some eyebrows around the NFL. 

Here’s a look at Keim’s thoughts on that situation, and more, via The Ringer’s Robert Mays:

On drafting Murray and dealing Rosen:

You have to make the tough decisions and avoid the outside noise— ‘Why’d you give up on this guy? Why would you trade this guy?‘…It’s unprecedented. I took [Rosen] in the top 10. I just felt that [Murray] was a generational talent that I just couldn’t pass up.”

On Murray’s game tape from Oklahoma:

Every game, it was the same thing. He did something multiple times that you either said, ‘Wow’ or [I] had seen very few times in my scouting career….“For a lot of reasons, I didn’t want to like [him, but I did].”

On new head coach Kliff Kingsbury:

They thought he was a guy that had enough of a swag to him that the players respected him. [The Texas Tech team] looked to him for advice. He didn’t just concentrate on the offensive side of the ball.”

On Murray’s progress, so far:

I guess time will tell. But I certainly like the early returns.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Rodgers, Cardinals, Panthers

After playing behind Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, Cardinals quarterback Brett Hundley is looking forward to providing teammate Kyler Murray with some essential wisdom. However, the 26-year-old made it clear that he’s not just going to hand the starting gig to the first-overall pick.

“The knowledge that I have, I’m able to pass it along to [Murray], especially through this journey of his because the NFL isn’t a sprint. It’s a long distance marathon,” Hundley said (via Jelani Scott of NFL.com). “For me, my goal has always been to start, no matter what position it’s in. I don’t play to be second. So I think that’s my number one goal, to get that starting job, and at the same time, it’s a competition for a reason.”

Hundley’s only extended stint as a starter came in 2017, when he started nine of his 11 appearances for the Packers. That season, Hundley completed 60.8-percent of his passes for 1,836 yards, nine touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He also added another 270 rushing yards and two scores on 36 carries.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • With Aaron Rodgers apparently tuning out Mike McCarthy‘s play calls, many pundits wondered how the Packers quarterback would handle a brand-new head coach. Well, Albert Breer of SI.com says the franchise quarterback is working with Matt LaFleur on a compromise. LaFleur’s system is intended to take decision-making off the quarterback’s list of responsibilities, all while allowing the offense to run quickly and more efficiently. The team is planning on using the “double call” method that was made popular by Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, although they’ll also provide Rodgers with the freedom to adjust from there. As Breer writes, the ideal scenario is “giving Rodgers the option, but not the obligation, to make changes on the fly.”
  • Breer writes that the Panthers had an under-the-radar front office hiring this week when they added Taylor Rajack as their new director of analytics. The 27-year-old previously served on the Eagles’ analytics staff, and Philly has quickly established themselves as one of the NFL leaders in advanced stats. Breer notes that Panthers coach Ron Rivera has previously embraced the use of analytics, while new owner David Tepper made it a priority in his front office.
  • 49ers kicker Robbie Gould isn’t backing off his trade demand, and he provided some insight on the situation earlier today.

Poll: Which Top 10 Pick Has The Highest Bust Potential?

The NFL Draft is just barely in the rear view mirror, which means that teams are full of hope for their young rookies. But, of course, the NFL Draft is largely a crapshoot, and not every player will realize their full potential. 

This year’s draft had talent, but lacked a true consensus on the top player. Many evaluators pegged defensive end Nick Bosa as the player with the highest ceiling in the 2019 class, but other saw Alabama’s Quinnen Williams as the “safest bet.” The 49ers pounced on Bosa with the No. 2 pick while the Jets (and former GM Mike Maccagnan) were delighted to land Williams at No. 3 overall.

Leading up to the draft, much of the attention was on Oklahoma quarterback (and one-time MLB hopeful) Kyler Murray. When Murray announced that he would ditch the Oakland A’s, his stock exploded – Murray was considered a borderline first-round prospect in the winter, but wound up as the Cardinals’ choice at No. 1 overall. Murray has the speed that teams crave at the QB position, but questions persist about his size and overall lack of experience as a full-time starter.

The Cardinals’ long flirtation with Murray brought us the expected result, but the Raiders gave us the real first shock of the draft when they tapped Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall. Not to be outdone, the Giants snagged Duke’s Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall. Heading into the draft, neither player was thought to be anywhere near Top 10 consideration, but Mike Mayock and Dave Gettleman were unwilling to trade down and risk losing out on their guys.

The domino effect created by those picks allowed the Bucs to grab inside linebacker Devin White (No. 5 overall), the Jaguars to land outside linebacker Josh Allen (No. 6), the Lions to snag top tight end T.J. Hockenson, the Bills to draft defensive tackle Ed Oliver (No. 9 overall), and the Steelers to finish out the Top 10 with linebacker Devin Bush. Most of those picks were warmly received, but nothing is certain in the draft.

Which Top 10 pick do you think has the highest bust potential? Click below to cast your vote (link for app users) and back up your choice in the comment section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which Team’s New QB Will Have Best Season?

While this offseason did not bring quite the same level of quarterback movement 2018’s did, a handful of teams will deploy new starters. Draft choices, trade acquisitions and free agent signings will be given the keys to offenses that struggled last season.

The Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jaguars and Redskins made moves to fortify their quarterback jobs. Which team’s investment will work out best?

Denver will use a different starting quarterback for the third straight year. Joe Flacco is set to be the Broncos’ fourth starter since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. While his QBR figure (58.7) was better than any the former Ravens starter had posted since a quality 2014 season, Flacco still ranked 20th in that metric last season. Having never made a Pro Bowl and fresh off back-to-back years featuring injury trouble, with a back problem limiting him during the 2017 offseason and a hip injury beginning the Lamar Jackson era, the 34-year-old starter will try to revive his career in Denver. Flacco, though, is the most accomplished quarterback the Broncos have employed since Manning.

The other surefire veteran starter acquired this year, Foles will have his first chance to be a team’s unquestioned first-stringer since 2015. The 30-year-old flourished in his second Philadelphia stint, submitting an all-time postseason run in 2017 and helping the Eagles back to the playoffs last season. A 2013 Pro Bowler, Foles will take over a Jaguars team that does not possess the kind of aerial weaponry recent Eagles rosters did. Jacksonville is in line to have Marqise Lee back from a torn ACL, but the team’s wideouts and tight ends will place additional emphasis on Foles living up to his contract. With the Rams in 2015, Foles threw seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions before being benched.

Kyler Murray represents the other locked-in starter added this offseason. The electric one-year Oklahoma starter accomplished about as much as a college passer can in a single season, turning in Division I-FBS’ second-ever 4,000-1,000 season en route to Heisman Trophy honors. Working with Kliff Kingsbury, Larry Fitzgerald and a host of young wide receivers, Murray is the centerpiece of one of the most daring experiments an NFL team has attempted.

The Cardinals turned the keys over to a sub-.500 college coach and a 5-foot-10 signal-caller — the first sub-6-foot passer to be chosen in Round 1. Arizona trotted out the league’s worst scoring and total offense last season, however, and sported a skeleton-crew offensive line by year’s end. The Cards added new starters Marcus Gilbert and J.R. Sweezy up front. Due to the lack of precedent behind this move, it is hard to tell how Murray will fare. But the unique talent has opened as Las Vegas’ offensive rookie of the year favorite.

Washington and Miami have not committed to a starting quarterback yet, but it is fairly safe to project Dwayne Haskins and Josh Rosen will see extensive time. While Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick could log starts, with the latter possibly even on track to do so, the Redskins have liked what their first-round pick has done so far and the Dolphins will need to see Rosen in games to help determine if they will consider a first-round QB in 2020. On the heels of a 50-touchdown pass season, the Ohio State product sits second in offensive rookie of the year odds. Although only eight passers have won this award since 1957, seven such instances have occurred since 2004.

Both Daniel Jones and Drew Lock could factor into their respective teams’ mixes later in the season. Of the 13 first-round QBs taken over the past four years, only Patrick Mahomes and Paxton Lynch were not promoted to the starting role as rookies. (Though, Eli Manning is not your typical stopgap.) Lock was projected by most as a first-rounder, and Flacco ceded his role to the No. 32 overall pick last year. So the 12th-year veteran’s grip on Denver’s job should be considered tenuous.

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kyler Murray’s Deal Has Offset Language

Kyler Murray‘s deal with the Cardinals contains offset language, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter). Offset language is usually at the root of most prolonged rookie negotiations, but the two sides managed to sidestep the issue and come to an accord on Thursday

Offset language relates to what happens to a player’s salary if he’s cut during the first four years of his career, while he’s still playing on his rookie contract. For the top 15 to 20 picks in the draft, those four-year salaries are fully guaranteed, even if a player is waived at some point during those four seasons. For example, if a player has $4MM in guaranteed money remaining on his contract and is cut, he’ll still be owed that $4MM.

However, if a team has written offset language into the contract, that club can save some money if and when the player signs with a new team. For example, if that player who had $4MM in guaranteed money left on his contract signs with a new club on a $1MM deal, his old team would only be on the hook for $3MM, with the new team making up the difference. If there’s no offset language on that first deal, the old team would continue to be on the hook for the full $4MM, and the player would simply earn an additional $1MM from his new club.

So, Murray appears to have accepted the typical offset language in a rookie deal, though his contract is not without unusual wrinkles. The pact also contains language that will void the deal if he leaves the NFL to pursue his baseball career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Sign Kyler Murray, Five Other Draft Picks

The Cardinals have signed first overall selection Kyler Murray, the club announced today. Arizona also signed following draft choices:

Like all first-round picks, Murray has signed a four-year deal with a fifth-year option for the 2023 season. Per Over the Cap, Murray’s contract should be worth $33.159MM in total. He’ll receive a signing bonus of roughly $23.59MM, and carry a cap charge of $6.392MM during his rookie campaign. Murray’s contract contains language that will void the deal if he leaves the NFL to pursue his baseball career, tweets Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. 

Murray, of course, spurned MLB’s Oakland Athletics in order to enter the NFL Draft. The Cardinals have since traded 2018 first-round quarterback Josh Rosen to the Dolphins, and intend to install an Air Raid system under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Along with new weapons like rookie wideouts Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler (neither of whom was signed today), the Cardinals will look to improve an offense that ranked among the league’s worst last year.

While Murray is the headliner, Murphy is a name-brand prospect in his own right. Projected by many observers to become the first cornerback off the board, Murphy ultimately lasted until the first pick of the second round. An excellent zone coverage corner, Murphy will fit in well with new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph‘s zone-heavy scheme.

Cardinals Select Kyler Murray No. 1 Overall

The Cardinals have selected Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the first overall selection of the 2019 NFL draft.

Murray, who won the 2018 Heisman Trophy as the NCAA’s best football player, had long been the favorite to go to Arizona at No. 1, but reports in recent weeks — and even recent hours — had suggested other players such as Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams or Ohio State edge defender Nick Bosa could be in contention for the pick. But the Cardinals opted to go with Murray in a franchise-altering move.

Arizona, of course, used a top-10 selection on a quarterback just one year ago, moving up in the first round in order to acquire UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Rosen went on to post one of the worst rookie quarterback seasons of all time, but a porous offensive line, questionable coaching, and a lack of offensive weapons were at least partly to blame. He now appears to be trade bait, although the Cardinals may be in no rush to move him if they don’t find the right deal.

Murray becoming the NFL’s first overall pick would have been unthinkable as recently as the winter, as he’d already been drafted ninth overall by MLB’s Oakland Athletics. After hemming and hawing about his future, Murray in February fully committed to football, and returned the majority of his baseball signing bonus with the hope he’d recoup those lost funds via the NFL. Murray’s first NFL contract should have a total value north of $35MM and will be fully guaranteed.

At 5’10”, Murray becomes the shortest signal-caller drafted in the first round in more than 60 years, but his height was no obstacle during his lone season as the Sooners’ starter. Last year, Murray completed 69% of his passes for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, and added another 1,001 yards and 12 scores on the ground.

After adding Murray, the Cardinals now face the tall task of building up their roster around their rookie passer. Offensive line, pass-catcher, and defensive line are just a few areas general manager Steve Keim and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury could target over the remainder of the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cardinals No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

With hours to go before the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cardinals’ plans for the No. 1 overall pick remain shrouded in secrecy. Just recently, Cardinals GM Steve Keim reached out to Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams to let him know he’s still a possibility to go first overall, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. 

At this point, only GM Steve Keim and a few others know the identity of the top pick, Steve Wyche of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). It still sounds like Kyler Murray will be the pick, but no one knows for sure, especially since there have been no trade talks surrounding Josh Rosen at this time.

Further complicating matters is a split of opinions in the Arizona front office about whether Rosen and Murray could co-exist on the roster together. One team source tells Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that the situation would not work after Rosen was selected to be Arizona’s QB of the future just one year ago. Another team source, however, feels that it could work.

Stay tuned.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh Rosen Is Unaware Of Cardinals’ Plans

If the Cardinals select quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick tonight, as most expect, then Josh Rosen will almost certainly be traded, either during the draft or after. His trade market has been fluctuating quite a bit recently, but Arizona will likely be able to get a decent return from some team that misses out on a collegiate signal-caller over the next several days.

But as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, Rosen himself remains in the dark. The team has given him no indication one way or another as to what it intends to do tonight, which would create a rather uncomfortable situation if Murray is not the pick.

If the Cardinals don’t take Murray, they will have to do a lot of work to mend fences and repair their relationship with a player that just one year ago was deemed their franchise quarterback. The same will hold true if they draft Murray and, for one reason or another, keep Rosen on the roster. Rosen has already admitted that he is frustrated by the situation, which is certainly understandable.

All of that makes it more likely, in Florio’s view, that the Cardinals will indeed take Murray tonight and will trade Rosen in the very near future. Rosen just doesn’t know that yet.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Bush, Redskins, Rams

Let’s round up the latest draft rumors in advance of tonight’s main event:

  • We heard several days ago that the Falcons were interested in trading into the Top 10, and that they had their sights set on defensive linemen like Christian Wilkins and offensive linemen. Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network confirms that Atlanta is indeed interested in moving up, but his sources say the club’s target is actually linebacker Devin Bush (Twitter link). Per Pelissero, the Falcons would need to leapfrog the Broncos, who hold the No. 10 overall pick, to assure themselves of landing Bush.
  • Despite all of the rumors suggesting that the Redskins are interested in making a big trade up into the Top 5, Pro Football Talk says that all of the calls that team president Bruce Allen are making are just an example of Allen being Allen and that Washington doesn’t really have a desire to make a move (Twitter link).
  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that the Rams, who hold the No. 31 overall pick in tonight’s draft, have received a number of calls from teams wanting to trade into the back end of the first round. First-rounders, of course, can be kept under club control for five years instead of four.
  • As Pelissero notes in a separate tweet, the teams that have shown the most interest in trading down from their current first-round slots are the Jets (No.3), Lions (No. 8), Dolphins (No. 13), Seahawks (Nos. 21 & 29), and Rams (No. 31).
  • If Kyler Murray should start to fall down the draft board, he may end up having a better financial future in baseball. As Albert Breer of SI.com notes, MLB’s Oakland A’s have offered him a $14MM “sweetener” on top of the $4.6MM bonus he was already due after the club drafted him last year, for a total of $18.66MM. That number would land between the 10th and 11th overall picks in tonight’s NFL draft, so if Murray ends up falling that far, teams are concerned that he would return to the diamond. But Breer still thinks that Murray will be the No. 1 overall pick tonight.
  • Breer calls Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons the most interesting prospect in the draft. He is one of the top defensive players in his class, but the troubling video showing him striking a woman in high school, along with his ACL tear, have completely removed him from some teams’ draft boards. But there is still a good chance that he will be selected in the first round tonight.
  • The Panthers and Vikings are both very serious about addressing their needs along the offensive line with early draft picks, as Breer notes in a separate piece. Both clubs used a high number of top-30 visits on O-linemen.
  • LSU cornerback Andraez “Greedy” Williams is perhaps the most talented corner in the draft, but as Breer notes, he comes with plenty of red flags concerning his toughness, work ethic, and personality. He did not make a single pre-draft visit, and despite his upside, he could slip out of the first round.