GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 07: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals drops back to pass during the second half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on January 07, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 21-20. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Contract: Five years, $230.5 million, $160 million guaranteed

Under the terms of the current CBA, NFL teams can sign players to an extension after three seasons. And given how Kyler Murray’s first three seasons progressed with the Arizona Cardinals, everyone knew a monster extension was coming—it was just a matter of when.

In his second season, Murray threw for almost 4,000 yards, tossed a career-high 26 touchdown passes and made his first Pro Bowl. The following year, he again made the Pro Bowl and led the Redbirds to the postseason.

However, Murray’s miserable outing against the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs should have served as a warning to the Cardinals. Instead of just after picking up Murray’s fifth-year option for 2023, the team signed the first overall pick in 2019 to a massive extension that included $160 million in guarantees.

Since then, things haven’t gone according to plan. Just after the deal was signed, reports surfaced that it included a mandatory film viewing requirement that called into question Murray’s work ethic. Murray won just three of his 11 starts in 2022 before tearing his ACL, posting a career-low passer rating of 87.2. He missed over half the 2023 campaign rehabbing that knee injury and put up a passer rating under 90 for the third time in five years.

For what it’s worth, Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon told reporters that he expects a major rebound from the 26-year-old Murray in 2024.

“I think his game’s gonna go to another level. I know it is. I’ve been extremely pleased with where he’s at, what he’s doing, the command and the leadership that he’s displaying right now. I mean, I think it was the best RVA I’ve ever seen in my life on Wednesday, truthfully. … Not to put a bunch of pressure on him, but he’s doing extremely well.”

This is a make-or-break year for Murray in the desert. Return to his form from 2020 and 2021, and the last two years will be written off as the product of an unfortunate injury. But if Murray struggles again this year, the Cardinals are going to face a brutal decision in 2025—keep paying $45-plus million for so-so QB play, or reset under center.