Rob Maaddi, FISM News
Kyler Murray’s mega-deal turned into a major headache for the Arizona Cardinals because of a rare “independent study” clause.
So, the team ditched it to silence critics.
The Cardinals gave the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback a contract extension last week worth $230.5 million, with $160 million guaranteed.
The NFL Network reported earlier this week that the contract contained language that mandates at least four hours of independent study during game weeks each season and that Murray can’t be distracted by “watching television, playing video games or browsing the internet” during that study period. This prompted many commentators to question why the Cardinals required such an addendum.
The general consensus was Murray hasn’t demonstrated the desired work ethic coaches require from starting quarterbacks. Murray wasn’t happy about it, so he held an impromptu news conference Thursday.
“To think I can accomplish everything I’ve accomplished in my career and not be a student of the game, and not have that passion and not take this serious, it’s disrespectful and almost a joke,” Murray told reporters. “I’m honestly flattered that y’all think that, at my size, I can go out there and not prepare for the game and not take it serious.”
Murray is generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds.
“I’m not 6-7, 230, and I don’t throw the ball 85 yards,” Murray said. “I’m already behind the 8-ball and can’t afford to take any shortcuts.”
So, why did the team include the clause?
“If you want to talk about football, we’ll talk about football,” Murray said.
Hours later, the Cardinals announced they removed the clause.
“After seeing the distraction it created, we removed the addendum from the contract,” the team said in a statement. “It was clearly perceived in ways that were never intended. Our confidence in Kyler Murray is as high as it’s ever been and nothing demonstrates our belief in his ability to lead this team more than the commitment reflected in this contract.”
Murray was the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in 2019. He led the Cardinals to 11 wins and a playoff berth last season after going 13-18-1 in his first two seasons.
The season started better than it ended, however, as the Cardinals went 1-4 in their final five regular-season games after a 10-2 start. They were eliminated by the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Murray has completed nearly 67% of his passes through 46 career games for 11,480 yards and 70 touchdowns. He also has 1,786 yards rushing and 20 TDs on the ground.
His average annual salary of $46.1 million is second only to two-time reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, who gets $50.3 million.
Rodgers was surprised to hear about the unique study clause in Murray’s deal.
“I think I just raised my eyebrows up like this,” Rodgers said, demonstrating the facial expression. “That was the reaction. Yeah, I was happy to see him get paid. One thing I did see was I think his average salary per year was about on par with the salary cap of the Oakland Athletics, so I think he can definitely smile knowing he made the right choice.”
Rodgers was referring to the Athletics selecting Murray, a two-sport star at the University of Oklahoma, ninth overall in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft.
Then again, baseball players don’t have to study as much as NFL quarterbacks.