Arizona Cardinals: When can we expect Kyler Murray to return in 2023?

Los Angeles Chargers v Arizona Cardinals
Los Angeles Chargers v Arizona Cardinals / Norm Hall/GettyImages

We know that, barring something unforeseen, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray will miss a portion of the 2023 NFL season.

When Kyler Murray will return to the Arizona Cardinals is perhaps the biggest mystery surrounding the team in 2023. Murray, heading into his fifth season, tore his ACL last December, meaning the likeliest scenario is that he will miss a good chunk of the 2023 season given the overall recovery timetable. 

Here are some potential scenarios for when Murray could return for 2023:

  • Murray surprises everyone and returns in Week 1
  • Murray returns after just a few weeks in the regular season
  • Murray misses at least half the season and plays in eight or fewer games
  • Murray misses the entire 2023 season and sets his sights on 2024

We can likely cross out the two extremes where Murray plays all year or where he doesn’t play at all. Since this injury occurred in December, it’s realistic to see him getting cleared to play toward the end of September, meaning he would return between early and mid-October. If he needs more time, then he likely won’t play until at least November. 

When Kyler Murray returns may affect the Arizona Cardinals 2023 season

We know Murray isn’t going to rush his way back, and taking the long view is the correct way to go about this. Rushing his way back into action will only put Murray at a higher risk to re-injure the knee, and that’s something the Cardinals don’t need if they, at this point, want to put themselves in the best possible chance to win in 2024. 

If Murray returns after just a few weeks and if someone like Clayton Tune or Colt McCoy led the Cards to at least a respectable record, then the former first overall pick could take over, but he must help the Redbirds overachieve. This would put Murray into the driver’s seat to be the guy in 2024 while general manager Monti Ossenfort can continue to build around him. 

Suppose Murray returns in Week 10. While he’s wise to take his time with rehab, the sense of urgency would be turned up a few notches if Tune, for example, stepped in and played like Brock Purdy or a young Dak Prescott. Clearly, there would be more pressure on Murray to match Tune’s performance and if he doesn’t a quarterback controversy could brew. 

In the latter scenario, the Arizona Cardinals overall record would also play a major role. If the Redbirds are something like 4-5, then there would be more pressure as opposed to if they were something like 2-7, even if Tune is putting up good numbers. 

How Murray responds in such a situation will determine if he will remain the guy following the 2023 season. If he’s still playing like he did in 2022, expect either Tune (if he plays well) or a quarterback not yet on the roster to take over. 

But if Murray responds favorably to such adversity, then it’s his job to lose moving forward. Even if the Cardinals finish with a poor record. 

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