Kyler Murray finally returned for the Arizona Cardinals, making his season debut Sunday in a win over the Atlanta Falcons. The former No. 1 overall pick hadn’t set foot on an NFL field in nearly a year after tearing his ACL last season. While Murray played well in his return, it’s hard to ignore rumors about the Cardinals potentially looking to go another direction at quarterback. So, it would seem as if Murray is playing to keep his spot in Arizon for the remainder of this year.
For someone who hadn’t played in almost a year, Murray looked good and even ran the ball well, especially on this play where he made something out of nothing to keep the Cards alive. He passed for 249 yards, completed just under 60 percent, and had 33 yards on the ground. It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but it was good enough for Arizona’s second win.
It probably sounds crazy, but there has been plenty of talk over the past 12 months about the Cardinals potentially looking to the draft again to replace Murray. This talk has been out there despite the fact the franchise handed Murray a massive five-year extension with $160 million in guaranteed money less than 18 months ago.
All the drama leading up to that extension looks to have been forgotten. The stipulation that was slipped into his deal about doing a certain number of hours each week of “homework” (film study), then the backlash that followed once that information was leaked. Murray’s maturity level was also questioned after he deleted any mention of the team on his social media platforms.
Fans may have forgotten these things or simply moved on, but the organization likely has not.
Once it happens, it’ll always be in the back of their minds no matter what the results on the field. What’s going to happen the next time something doesn’t go his way is what the front office is thinking. They won’t express this publicly, but it’s there. It’s similar to when one spouse cheats but is taken back by the other. You move past it, but it’s always there in the back of your mind. What if we go through rough times again . . . then what?
Murray is still young (26) and presumably has many years left ahead of him. But something has the Cardinals allegedly thinking of making a change. When he last played before the injury, his record was 3-8. Obviously, that isn’t all on him, but it might be enough, coupled with questions about maturity, for Arizona to look elsewhere. How the offense fares down the stretch will play a key factor in former Rookie of the Year’s future as a Cardinal.
Playing well and being able to win consistently aren’t always exclusive deals. Surrounding a young QB with talent always helps, but there is something to be said about handling this responsibility in a particular manner. With eight losses already this season, the Cardinals are tied with the second-worst record in the league.
There’s still plenty of time to make it up to that No. 1 spot and jump into position to draft USC’s Caleb Williams. Whether he’ll want to play there is another issue. But if the opportunity is there, you have to wonder if Arizona will jump at taking Williams or stand pat with Murray. The next seven games could make the decision for them.