Lots of money up front for Kyler Murray could spell problems on the back end for the Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray is happy and the Arizona Cardinals are happy. So fans should be happy. Let’s just get that out of the way. It’s a done deal.
The numbers are about what most expected. With nothing officially official yet, the team did make an announcement and it looks like the deal is basically a 5 year extension through 2028 worth about $230.5 million.
But as always, the devil is in the details. And the structure has the potential to become hellish for the Arizona Cardinals.
It looks fine now, but what happens in three years?
We’ve heard the argument countless times. Why is it fair that a team can cut a player under contract and owe him nothing, yet when a player demands that his deal get redone, he’s told to “honor the contract?”
Both sides have ammunition in this debate. If teams stopped giving out huge up front signing bonuses, public sentiment would almost certainly shift entirely toward the player in these situations.
However, given that most of these guys are getting cut HUGE checks the day they sign, there is some validity in the position that players should play out the deal to which they agreed. But as we all know, that isn’t happening.
The timeframe for new contract demands has grown troublesome for teams
There was a time not so long ago when many teams had an unwritten rule that they would not redo contracts with longer than one year remaining. And it was rare that a player would ask for a new deal with multiple years left unless he was being egregiously underpaid.
Those days are gone.
Every year, fans now see players with two or even three years left on a deal they JUST signed asking to have it ripped up to keep up with escalating salaries. Again, there are reasonable arguments to be made for this, but that’s for another article.
What’s important here is that it DOES happen. And usually it’s when a player (or more likely his agent) realizes that his current pay grade doesn’t match his ranking among his positional peers.
The 2026 salary chart for QB’s will look drastically different than it does in 2022
So what does this mean for the Arizona Cardinals? Well, simply put, it means that what they are hoping for could actually become an issue for the organization.
USA Today reporter Chuck Harris tweeted out what he believes to be the structure over the first three years. So consider this: If Murray turns into an elite QB while making the bulk of his money over those first 3 seasons, in 2026 he will look underpaid.
If Murray is a top-5 QB for the Arizona Cardinals heading into ’26 but is only the 12th highest paid QB, will he be content? Or will he ask to have his deal redone with 3 years left on it?
And yes, the way QB’s are getting paid now, and with the way the salary cap keeps rising, it’s quite likely numerous QB’s will pass Murray in pay over the next 4 seasons.
Guaranteeing the entire deal likely wasn’t an option
If the Arizona Cardinals could have just guaranteed the entire contract, they probably should have. That essentially takes away any leverage Murray has in asking for a new deal with any considerable length of time left on the contract.
But because of an antiquated accounting rule, the Cardinals probably didn’t have that option. Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk outlined the issue here.
So now Arizona has to hope their franchise QB doesn’t start clamoring for a new deal if his play and pay don’t line up halfway through the contract.
But hey, this isn’t a time to be pessimistic. It could be worse. You could be a Browns fan getting this QB news instead. So be happy. And let’s all hope Murray stays that way, too