Colt McCoy

Latest On Justin Jefferson, Kirk Cousins; Vikings Audition Colt McCoy

OCTOBER 15: In a full-length piece, Schefter reiterates his earlier point that Jefferson could miss the rest of the season if the Vikings are out of contention by the time he is healthy enough to return to the field. From a purely medical perspective, Jefferson stands to miss up to six weeks, and he will undergo imaging tests in four weeks’ time to determine his status.

OCTOBER 12: After going three-plus seasons without missing a game, Justin Jefferson is set to miss at least four. After a hamstring injury in Week 5, the Vikings placed the superstar wide receiver on IR. A few factors could determine Jefferson’s true return timetable.

The Vikings do not expect this injury to require more than the four-week minimum, per’s Ian Rapoport; that would give Jefferson a Week 11 reentrance stage. Kevin O’Connell said (via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Ben Goessling) the team does not view this as a season-ending injury, though the second-year HC labeled it “significant” in nature. While hamstring injuries present potential for aggravation, they are rarely deemed as season-threatening maladies — at least, not at this point on the calendar. That said, both Keenan Allen and Darren Waller missed large chunks of last season due to hamstring ailments.

[RELATED: Jets Not Looking Into Trading For Cousins]

Jefferson’s summer contract talks may also play into this. After an early-summer report indicated the Vikings were fine tabling these negotiations to 2024, the team attempted a late push to extend the record-setting pass catcher before Week 1. These talks went up against the season opener but did not produce a deal. Despite T.J. Hockenson signing a monster tight end extension, the Vikings have their best player in Year 4 of a rookie contract. Although no team has picked up a wide receiver’s fifth-year option and extended him with two years of control remaining, the Vikings appeared close to breaking this precedent with Jefferson.

The team not doing so opens the door to the wideout playing this cautiously and, as’s Adam Schefter noted, the Vikes’ record by the time Jefferson is moving closer to a return could factor into these proceedings. After turning a negative point differential into a 13-4 season, the Vikings are 1-4 and potentially staring at some decisions before the trade deadline. The team already cut ties with a few veterans this offseason — Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, Za’Darius Smith — and has other names to monitor ahead of the deadline. Danielle Hunter is in a contract year, and Harrison Smith took a pay cut this offseason. Both Pro Bowlers would appeal to other teams, should the Vikings become serious about selling.

Regarding Jefferson’s contract situation, it is unlikely his value would diminish if he aggravated this short-term injury by coming back too soon. The 2020 first-rounder will enter the offseason in position to command an extension that separates him from his peers, presenting the Vikings with a potentially challenging negotiation. Jefferson’s stats will obviously take a hit this year, but a secure long-term outlook will allow him to take his time in recovering, especially if the team remains under .500 when he is due back.

Kirk Cousins could theoretically join Smith and Hunter as a high-profile trade chip, being unsigned beyond this season and agreeing to an offseason restructure that dropped his 2023 base salary to $10MM. But the sixth-year Vikings starter holds a no-trade clause. He has indicated several times he would prefer to stay in Minnesota and did not address the topic (via ESPN’s Kevin Seifert) when asked if he would waive his clause to be moved this season.

The Vikings cannot realistically tag Cousins in 2024, due to the two Washington tags that led him to the Twin Cities in 2018, giving the team an interesting scenario with its longtime starter. Cousins, 35, can set himself up for yet another payday by playing well this season. With the QB not expecting to discuss another contract until after the season, the Vikes will soon find themselves in a time crunch. Jefferson’s absence stands to impact this, however, and it will be interesting to see if Cousins adjusts his stance if the Vikes continue to stumble.

Cousins reaching the market would put him in position for a fourth lucrative contract, and’s Dan Graziano notes an AFC exec mentioned Derek Carr‘s $37.5MM-per-year Saints deal as a good comp for Cousins. Then again, Cousins has posted better numbers than Carr and has navigated the financial landscape about as well as anyone in NFL history. But the ex-fourth-rounder will be going into his age-36 season in 2024, limiting his value to some degree. This process will put the Vikings to a decision, as Cousins’ abilities may lead to the team winning enough games to move out of realistic range to nab a replacement near the top of the draft.

The Vikings used a fifth-round pick on Jaren Hall in April; as of now, the BYU product is Cousins’ backup. Nick Mullens moved to IR on Wednesday, and ex-Cousins backup Sean Mannion returned to the practice squad. Prior to reacquiring Mannion, the Vikings worked out Colt McCoy,’s Howard Balzer tweets. McCoy, 37, has been a free agent since the Cardinals released him just before the season. While he was connected to both the Patriots and Jets recently, the journeyman backup is still unattached.

QB Notes: Watson, Pickett, Herbert, Cards

After a Week 3 bounce-back effort, Deshaun Watson sat out Week 4 due to a shoulder injury. The Browns endured a 28-3 loss. While Kevin Stefanski said the team is on the same page with its high-priced quarterback medically, the fourth-year HC added (via’s Mary Kay Cabot) Watson was cleared to play against the Ravens.

He knows is body, he’s played through serious pain before, very, very serious injuries,” Stefanski said. “It wasn’t a matter of pain tolerance. He just did not feel like he had his full faculties.”

The 2022 trade acquisition had missed one game due to injury since the ACL tear that ended his 2017 rookie season, being sidelined for a 2019 contest. The Browns, who saw Watson predecessor Baker Mayfield struggle when playing through a shoulder injury in 2021, traded away their Watson backup — Josh Dobbs — just before the regular season, leading to rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson taking the keys.

Here is the latest from the QB landscape:

  • After limping off the field in Houston, Kenny Pickett received good news upon going through an MRI. The second-year Steelers QB did not sustain serious damage to his knee, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac. Pickett sustained a bone bruise and a muscle strain, according to’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, but he has a chance to play this week. With the Steelers’ bye in Week 6, it would make sense for the team to hold its starter out. Mitchell Trubisky, who signed an offseason extension, remains in place as Pickett’s backup. After being usurped by the 2022 first-rounder, Trubisky was needed after Pickett sustained two concussions as a rookie.
  • The Chargers also received fairly good news on their starter. Justin Herbert is not expected to miss time after suffering a finger injury in Week 4. That said, Rapoport notes Herbert did suffer a finger break on his nonthrowing hand. Herbert playing through early-season injuries is, of course, nothing new. The star passer battled rib trouble after a Week 2 injury last year. The Bolts’ franchise centerpiece has never missed a game due to injury.
  • With Kyler Murray not particularly close to returning, Dobbs’ unexpected starter run will continue. The Cardinals pursued Dobbs in free agency, and Darren Urban of notes the team made him an offer to rejoin OC Drew Petzing. While Dobbs preferred a Cleveland return, he ended up back with Petzing — the Browns’ QBs coach last season — in Arizona via the “out of the blue” Cards trade offer. Dobbs became Arizona’s surprise starter due partially to the new staff’s concerns about Colt McCoy‘s lack of mobility, per Urban. McCoy, 37, did not impress as the starter during training camp. Murray’s two-year backup, who had signed a two-year deal worth $6MM in 2022, remains a free agent.

Jets Have Contacted Only Chad Henne, Colt McCoy; Latest On Aaron Rodgers’ Recovery

The Jets are 1-1 and reeling from Aaron RodgersAchilles injury, which ended the future Hall of Famer’s season after four snaps and thrust Zach Wilson back into the starting lineup. We heard in the immediate aftermath of the Rodgers news that New York was exploring the free agent market for veteran passers and had inquired on retired QB Chad Henne.

Dianna Russini of The Athletic (subscription required) confirms that the Jets have indeed reached out to Henne, who has rebuffed their overtures. “The timing doesn’t work,” Henne said.

Gang Green has also contacted Colt McCoy, who was released by the Cardinals on cutdown day and who was mentioned as a possible Jets target several days ago. McCoy, 37, indicated that he has several offers in hand and expects to sign with a club shortly. He had been dealing with an elbow injury, though he should be ready to play this week.

The Jets told both Henne and McCoy that if they were to sign with the team, they would be doing so with the understanding that Wilson is the starter. As a team source told Russini, “[w]e have Zach. Zach Wilson is our best option.” 

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was pleased with what Wilson was able to do when he was forced to enter the team’s Week 1 contest against the Bills in relief of Rodgers, and Hackett was also impressed by the progress Wilson made throughout the spring and summer. Wilson appears to have earned the trust of the locker room, with another team source telling Russini that Wilson’s character is “off the charts.” The team has changed “about half of the game plan” to play to Wilson’s strengths, including an overall simplification of the offense.

The organizational view on Wilson explains why, as Russini reports, the Jets have no plans to pursue a more accomplished signal-caller like Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, or Joe Flacco (Blake Bortles is reportedly not under consideration either). As Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of report, Brady’s purchase of a stake in the Raiders is not yet finalized and is unlikely to be finalized until October at the earliest. Until then, Brady can techincally sign with any team he chooses, but as we noted previously, he continues to insist that he will remain retired.

Rich Cimini of suggests that the Jets, who have the league’s most difficult strength of schedule over the next five games, could reassess the situation over their Week 7 bye. If they are still in playoff position but feel Wilson is holding them back, they could expand their QB search at that time.

Rodgers, of course, has not closed the door on an in-season return. The reason for such optimism, as Rapoport and Pelissero explain in a separate piece, is that Rodgers underwent an innovative surgery to accelerate the rehabilitation process.

The duo, building on an earlier report from Russini and The Athletic colleague Jourdan Rodrigue (subscription required), say that a type of internal brace called a “speed bridge” was placed on Rodgers’ torn Achilles. The procedure, which was performed by well-known orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, could allow Rodgers to be back on the field right around the time the postseason begins.

The procedure does involve risk, but Rodgers determined that the possibility of helping his new club make a playoff run this season was worth taking a chance. The 39-year-old (40 in December) could also receive platelet-rich plasma injections to move his recovery along.

Jets Not Planning To Contact Tom Brady About Comeback

As the Jets attempt to reinstall Zach Wilson as their starting quarterback, they are believed to have contacted available quarterbacks to round out their depth chart in the wake of Aaron Rodgers‘ injury. The biggest name available does not appear to be on their radar.

The team is not planning to make a pitch to Tom Brady to unretire for a second time, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini, who notes the future Hall of Famer continues to inform those close to him he does not intend to play again. While Brady unretired last year, he was out of the game for barely a month. This retirement has spanned more than seven months.

Brady, 46, retired for a second time on Feb. 1 and has made multiple plans to stay connected to the game after completing one of the greatest careers in sports history. He is planning to begin his tenure as FOX’s top analyst next year and has agreed to buy a stake in the Raiders. While the latter endeavor generated rumors about Brady being an emergency Jimmy Garoppolo injury replacement with Las Vegas, the 23-year veteran shot those down by indicating he was indeed done.

Rumblings of a Brady return to the AFC East caused quite the uproar last year, when the Brady-Sean Payton tampering scandal cost the Dolphins first- and third-round picks. During his first retirement, Brady buzz about becoming a player/owner with the Dolphins circulated. That Miami penalty surfaced just before the Buccaneers reconvened for their 2022 training camp, which preceded a surprising Brady hiatus after he had initially showed up at Bucs camp.

Both Brady and the Bucs proceeded to take significant steps back last season, as injuries mounted along Tampa Bay’s offensive line. While Brady joined a Bucs team with a number of intriguing defensive pieces in 2020, stepping in to help a talented young Jets defense does not look realistic.

The Jets have been connected to the likes of Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, who were each in Philadelphia during Joe Douglas‘ tenure as a Howie Roseman lieutenant. The team has also been linked to be aimed at convincing one player — Chad Henne — to unretire. The ex-Nathaniel Hackett Jaguars pupil came up Tuesday as an option for the Jets, but no indications have emerged regarding the four-year Chiefs backup’s interest in unretiring to play behind Wilson.

Although the Jets made no secret of their effort to replace Wilson this offseason, their primary targets were Rodgers and Derek Carr. Brady was briefly linked to the Raiders as a free agent, but he retired soon after. The NFL still needs to approve of his Raiders ownership path. It would certainly be easier for the Jets to land Brady compared to the Dolphins, who pursued a quarterback still under contract with another team. As of now, however, Wilson is back at the helm for a Jets team that has seen its stock take a substantial hit despite a come-from-behind Week 1 win.

In addition to Brady, the Jets are not pursuing Colin Kaepernick, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets. Kaepernick, who was brought up as an injury-replacement option often during the late 2010s, contacted the Jets about their sudden QB issue. But the former Super Bowl starter was never a realistic option, seeing as his unique NFL exit occurred more than six years ago.

Colt McCoy may be an option, Anderson adds. The Cardinals released McCoy just before the deadline to cut their roster to 53 players, going instead with recent trade pickup Joshua Dobbs in Week 1. McCoy, who turned 37 earlier this month, spent the past two seasons in Arizona. He came up as an option for New England, but the Patriots have used younger options as Mac Jones‘ backup. This would be McCoy’s 14th NFL season.

Bailey Zappe, Malik Cunningham To Join Pats’ Practice Squad

AUGUST 30: The Patriots will retain Zappe, per’s Adam Schefter, who reports the second-year passer will be part of New England’s practice squad. Ditto Cunningham, who will make this a rare two-quarterback P-squad, Schefter adds. Though, Cunningham could certainly be used in myriad capacities. While the Pats are still on the hunt for a veteran option, they will attempt to continue developing the former record-setting Western Kentucky QB.

AUGUST 29: For the second straight day, the Patriots have parted with a depth quarterback. Bailey Zappe has been waived, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The same is true of rookie UDFA Malik Cunningham, notes colleague Tom Pelissero.

These moves certainly constitute more of a surprise than New England’s decision to cut Trace McSorley yesterday. The latter was in line to sit no higher than third on the QB depth chart, and the Patriots – like many other teams around the league – appeared set to carry only two passers on their active roster. They will do so, but for at least the time being it remains to be seen who their backup will be come Week 1.

With McSorley, Zappe and Cunningham all off the roster, New England’s QB room currently begins and ends with Mac Jones. The latter is in place as the undisputed starter – after head coach Bill Belichick notably declined to confirm that over the course of an offseason in which tension between the two was widely publicized. Any further moves at the position will now be worth watching closely.

Jones regressed in 2022 after New England entrusted Matt Patricia and Joe Judge with leading the team’s offense. That pair has been replaced by Bill O’Brien, whose return to the organization has led to expectations for improvement from Jones individually and the passing game as a whole. Zappe would have been expected to remain a part of that process, though that could still be the case if he goes unclaimed and resorts to the practice squad.

The 2022 fourth-rounder made four appearances (and a pair of starts) during his rookie campaign, drawing praise for his performances and posting a 2-0 record. A controversy briefly appeared to exist between Zappe and Jones, a 2021 first-rounder. The latter finished out the campaign, though, and he will carry on in the starter’s role to begin an important campaign which will go a long way in determining his future in the organization.

Cunningham played quarterback at Louisville, producing sizeable numbers in the run game in particular. He went undrafted, but secured a notable guarantee from the Patriots to head to New England as a developmental prospect. The 24-year-old spent time as a receiver in training camp, and his success in the summer seemed to assure him of a roster spot in some capacity. The decision to move on from McSorley pointed toward Cunningham having a better chance at the QB3 spot, but that is now in question.

The Patriots will likely be aiming to sneak Zappe through waivers, but such a strategy with a recent draftee carries a notable degree of risk. An outside addition could be coming as well – one would become necessary if both Zappe and Cunningham were to be claimed – so New England will remain a team to watch at quarterback position. On that point, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated notes that the Patriots hope to retain Zappe, while Colt McCoy (who was surprisingly released by the Cardinals yesterday) is a veteran on their radar.

Cardinals Release QB Colt McCoy; Kyler Murray To Begin Season On PUP List

Per Ian Rapoport of, Cardinals QB Kyler Murray will begin 2023 on the reserve/PUP list, which will require him to miss at least the first four games of the season. The bigger surprise is that Colt McCoy, who spent the past two seasons as Murray’s backup in Arizona, has been released, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Murray, of course, is the club’s franchise passer, and he signed a massive contract extension last July. But he suffered an ACL tear and a torn meniscus late in the 2022 season, and while there was some initial optimism that he would be cleared for Week 1 of the upcoming campaign, it had become increasingly apparent that would not be the case. As Arizona is clearly in rebuild mode — and perhaps in line for the No. 1 overall pick of the 2024 draft — it simply does not make sense for the team to rush Murray back onto the field.

Even after the recent trade that brought Josh Dobbs to the desert, the expectation was that McCoy would open the season as the Cardinals’ starting signal-caller, with Dobbs serving as his backup and fifth-round rookie Clayton Tune as the third-stringer. On the other hand, new Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing worked as the Browns’ quarterbacks coach in 2022, when Dobbs was on the Cleveland roster, so there is some familiarity there. Additionally, McCoy’s 2022 season was cut short due to a concussion, and he spent time on IR with a calf injury prior to that. An elbow problem sidelined McCoy at the outset of this year’s offseason program.

The McCoy release creates $1.5MM of cap space for the Cardinals while leaving the club with a dead money charge of $3.5MM, as Mike Jurecki of Arizona Football Daily observes. As such, it seems clear that the move was not financially motivated and was instead designed to give younger players who might have longer futures with the team more of an opportunity.

McCoy, who will turn 37 next month, contemplated retirement this offseason. It is now fair to wonder if he will hang up the cleats or search for another opportunity to extend his playing career. The Texas product has started 36 games in the NFL, and though his 11-25 record as a starter is obviously uninspiring, he has had stretches of quality play. In 2021, for instance, he started three games in relief of an injured Murray and went 2-1 while completing 74.7% of his passes for three TDs against one interception.

Browns To Trade QB Josh Dobbs To Cardinals

The Cardinals are still not done on the trade front. Arizona is on the acquiring end of a deal this time, however. The Browns are trading quarterback Josh Dobbs and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Cardinals for a 2024 fifth-rounder (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network). CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones was the first to report (via Twitter) that Dobbs was on his way to the desert.

Jones adds that that Kellen Mond has not, in fact, been placed on waivers. Such a move was announced by the team earlier today, but with Dobbs no longer in the fold, the Browns will retain Mond to keep three quarterbacks on the roster. Most significantly, this news confirms that rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson has done enough to win the backup job behind Deshaun Watson.

This move ends a second Dobbs tenure early. The Browns had rostered Dobbs as their Jacoby Brissett backup last year, but Watson’s return from suspension led to the team cutting him. Dobbs ended up in Detroit and then Tennessee, where he was immediately called upon to start (over Malik Willis) in the Titans’ final two games. Now, the veteran reserve, months after rejoining the Browns on a one-year deal worth $2MM, will join a Cardinals team that came into the day with five QBs rostered. The move points to Kyler Murray remaining on Arizona’s PUP list to start the season.

The trade also comes not long after Kevin Stefanski (via’s Mary Kay Cabot) had named Dobbs as their backup. That was believed to be the plan all along, with the seventh-year vet operating as QB2 as Thompson-Robinson developed. This move will still allow for Thompson-Robinson to grow behind Watson, though an injury to the starter would throw the fifth-round rookie into the fire.

Although Colt McCoy, David Blough, Jeff Driskel and fifth-round rookie Clayton Tune are on Arizona’s roster, the Cardinals brought in Dobbs, who has a history with new OC Drew Petzing. The Browns’ QBs coach last year will bring in Dobbs as McCoy insurance, per ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss (on Twitter). McCoy’s season ended early because of a concussion last year, and he went on IR with another issue prior to that. An elbow problem sidelined McCoy to start this offseason program as well. The 14th-year veteran is going into his age-37 season. Under contract for one more year, McCoy considered retirement this offseason.

To start the year, the Cards’ depth chart will likely be McCoy-Dobbs-Tune at QB, Weinfuss adds. With Petzing on board as the play-caller,’s Tony Grossi notes the Cardinals tried to sign Dobbs as a free agent. Thompson-Robinson’s emergence changed the Browns’ thinking regarding their QB depth chart, per Grossi.

Despite Dobbs coming into the league as a 2017 fourth-round pick, he had only attempted 17 passes coming into December of last year. The Titans summoned the rocket scientist, and he completed 69% of his passes in a do-or-die game against a much healthier Jaguars squad. The injury-plagued Titans pushed the Jags in that Week 18 game, with Dobbs throwing for 232 yards and a touchdown. Mired in some QB uncertainty until Murray returns, the Cardinals now have the former Steelers draftee in a familiar system.

Adam La Rose contributed to this post.

Colt McCoy Considered Retirement

With Kyler Murray likely to miss the start of the season, a Cardinals team that has shifted focus toward a rebuild may need to rely on a 14th-year veteran to run the show. Colt McCoy is going into his age-37 season, but he represents the most likely candidate to take the snaps for the Cardinals to start the year.

This expected opportunity comes after the longtime backup missed the final games of the 2022 season due to a concussion. Making his third start of last season, McCoy sustained the head injury in Week 15 and did not play again. The Cardinals cleared their backup from concussion protocol in Week 17, but McCoy experienced more symptoms during a practice soon after and finished the season out of action.

That concussion was not bad physically. I know I was knocked out, I don’t want to [downplay it], but I recovered very quickly,” McCoy said, via’s Darren Urban. “Then I think there were some decisions made that were out of my hands. I was going to practice and I was going to play if I was allowed to play. It was just that way. I haven’t had any repercussions from the concussion. I feel good.”

McCoy also battled arm and calf issues last year, keying an IR stint, and entered the offseason dealing with an elbow ailment. Jonathan Gannon has confirmed McCoy is back to 100% after an early-offseason ramp-up period. One season remains on McCoy’s two-year, $7.5MM contract. While McCoy is expected to be a Week 1 starter for the first time since 2011, he considered calling it a career this offseason.

There is always an evaluation process you go through,” McCoy said of his retirement consideration. “Opportunities to play in this league don’t grow on trees. I understand the situation we are in. I still want to play and I still feel confident I can play.

In my mind, I don’t know if Kyler is going to be healthy or not. We all certainly hope that he is. If he is not, I will 100% be ready to go.”

The Cardinals finished last season with David Blough and Trace McSorley making starts in place of Murray and McCoy. Blough remains on Arizona’s roster, while McSorley signed with the Patriots. Arizona also signed Jeff Driskel and drafted Houston’s Clayton Tune in Round 5. Murray starting the season on the reserve/PUP list opens the door to the Cardinals carrying Tune and either Blough or Driskel on its season-opening roster. Once Murray is activated, a practice squad slot may well be opened for one of these two as well.

Michael Bidwill said earlier this offseason Murray would likely return early in the season. That statement came before free agency, when the likes of Zach Allen, Byron Murphy and Markus Golden moved off the Cards’ roster. DeAndre Hopkins is also now out of the picture. The team’s rebuilding mission — one that could include two high 2024 draft choices, partially due to the Cardinals collecting the Texans’ first-rounder in the Will Anderson Jr. trade — introduces a natural conflict with Murray’s recovery timetable. While it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals manage their well-paid starter this season, McCoy looms as the first option off the bench.

This will be McCoy’s third season with the Cardinals. The Texas alum helped the 2021 team secure a playoff berth, leading that Cards edition to two wins in his three starts for an injured Murray. McCoy completed 74.7% of his passes (at 7.5 yards a clip) in 2021. Those numbers fell to 68.2% and 5.9, respectively, as McCoy went 1-2 as a starter last year. The playoffs will not be an expectation for the ’23 Cards, but McCoy will be expected to play a notable role for Gannon’s first Arizona squad.

Michael Bidwill Included Kyler Murray In Cardinals’ HC Search, Expects QB To Make Early-Season Return

Jonathan Gannon said he would not have taken the Cardinals’ HC job without Kyler Murray in place, and the Pro Bowl quarterback contributed to the search that produced Gannon.

Michael Bidwill mentioned Murray, Budda Baker and Zach Ertz as players he spoke to regarding the team’s long-running coach search, doing so while also speaking with multiple sources outside the team. Bidwill said during an appearance on the Dave Pasch Podcast (via’s Darren Urban) he wanted to get a “360-degree view” of each GM and HC candidate.

The owner also tried to downplay concerns Murray might not be available until around midseason. Bidwill expects the franchise QB to be back earlier than the midpoint, calling the fifth-year passer “ahead of schedule.”

I think [his return] is going to be earlier than this midseason, so hopefully it’s toward the beginning of the season, but I don’t want to put any specific dates,” Bidwill said. “There could be setbacks; the progress could slow. But he’s a young man; it looks like he is a fast healer. Things are going well. Let’s hope that keeps going the way it is.”

Months away from Murray being receiving clearance post-ACL surgery, it is too early to put a precise return date on this process. The Cardinals gave extensions to Murray, Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury last year. The result led to a staff overhaul, but Murray’s contract stipulates he will not be going anywhere. The 25-year-old passer, whose $46.1MM-per-year deal runs through 2028, has been rehabbing every day at the team facility, per Bidwill.

This offseason will feature two NFC West teams not having their preferred starter at workouts, with Murray and Brock Purdy set to be sidelined throughout the Cards and 49ers’ programs. Separating Arizona in this area: Colt McCoy is also recovering from an injury that stands to sideline him for at least part of Arizona’s offseason workouts. Bidwill said McCoy is coming back from an unspecified injury that “will limit him in the offseason.”

McCoy battled arm and calf issues, leading him to IR, but he resurfaced to replace Murray for two games prior to the latter’s ACL tear. McCoy sustained a concussion in Week 15, his third start of the season, and did not play again. The Cardinals cleared their backup from concussion protocol in Week 17, but McCoy experienced more symptoms during a practice soon after and finished the season out of action. The longtime backup will turn 37 before Week 1; his two-year, $7.5MM contract runs through the 2023 season. The two QBs to finish the season for the Cards — David Blough and Trace McSorley — are eligible for restricted and unrestricted free agency, respectively.

NFC West Notes: Cards, Lance, Hawks, Akers

While nothing is certain yet, the Cardinals may be on the lookout for a new GM for the first time in 10 years. Steve Keim took a leave of absence earlier this month and, as of now, is not expected to be back. The Cardinals may be considering keeping their current setup — a dual-GM partnership between Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris — on a permanent basis, Albert Breer of notes. Arizona has promoted from within to fill its GM post the past two times it opened, elevating Rod Graves in 2003 and then Keim in 2013. Bob Ferguson (1996) represents the franchise’s past outside hire for this post.

Wilson and Harris each played safety with the Cardinals, being teammates from 2002-05, and have worked in the front office for several years. Harris, the team’s VP of player personnel, has been on staff longer — since 2008, when he became a scout — while Wilson, the VP of pro personnel, enjoyed a much longer playing career. Wilson has been a Cards staffer since 2015. Harris interviewed for the Giants’ GM gig this year; Wilson interviewed with the Jaguars. Whomever lands the Arizona GM job will have some pieces to pick up after a turbulent year, and a coaching search could commence.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • When the Seahawks acquired Drew Lock from the Broncos, the front office viewed him as the likely starter, Brady Henderson of notes. Believing they knew what they had in Geno Smith, Russell Wilson‘s backup for three seasons, the Seahawks were planning on Lock taking over. Smith’s contract — one year, $3.5MM — reflects this plan, but Pete Carroll consistently kept the former Jets second-rounder in front of Lock. While the Seahawks have faded since a surprising start, Smith made one the more unlikely Pro Bowl runs in recent QB history. The Seahawks want to re-sign him to a long-term deal.
  • Kliff Kingsbury said the Cardinals did not know about J.J. Watt‘s retirement decision beforehand. The Cardinals signed the three-time Defensive Player of the Year to a two-year, $28MM deal in 2021. Despite Watt suffering another significant injury last season, he rebounded to re-emerge as one of the league’s top D-linemen this year. Watt will pass on a chance to join a contender in free agency next year, and it appears a near-lock he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2028.
  • Colt McCoy cleared concussion protocol and will start for the Cardinals in Week 17, Darren Urban of tweets. Arizona faces Atlanta and San Francisco to close out its season. McCoy is signed to a two-year, $7.5MM deal.
  • Brock Purdy has stepped in and kept the 49ers on course. Prior to Jimmy Garoppolo‘s injury, the team was open to re-signing him. Now, the prospect of Purdy keeping the gig over Trey Lance in 2023 is starting to surface. An anonymous exec told the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora he is growing more convinced the 49ers will trade Lance and stick with this year’s Mr. Irrelevant. With Lance on a rookie contract through 2024, that would be a wild call — even given Purdy’s early form. But teams would figure to be interested in the former No. 3 overall pick — even if he has only played one full season in his five since high school.
  • Although the Rams tried to trade Cam Akers, they have turned back to him as their top running back. They should be expected to retain him in 2023, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Akers’ career path changed when he tore an Achilles’ tendon in July 2021, but he totaled 147 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns Sunday. Next season will be a contract year for the former second-round pick.
  • Weeks after the Cardinals fired their offensive line coach, Sean Kugler, the dismissed assistant said he did not grope a female security guard in Mexico. Kugler is taking legal action against the Cardinals, whom he contends did not conduct a thorough investigation. The team released a statement (via’s Ian Rapoport, on Twitter) conveying confidence the firing was for cause. Kugler worked for the Cardinals from 2019 until his November firing.