The NFL offseason is young, but it’s already been a weird one for the Arizona Cardinals. Star quarterback Kyler Murray scrubbed his social media and “unfollowed” the team last month, and then ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Murray had been described as “self-centered,” “immature” and someone who points fingers. This saga appeared to reach a climax Monday, when Murray’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, released an odd statement about a new contract.
Burkhardt posted the letter he wrote to the Cardinals, which stated that Murray wants to be Arizona’s long-term quarterback, and that he “desperately” wants to win the Super Bowl. That wasn’t the point of the lengthy note, however, as the statement said Murray is looking for a new deal. Burkhardt also claimed that his camp sent a “detailed contract proposal” to the Cardinals that apparently provides financial protection, reflects the current quarterback market and lowers Murray’s salary cap number.
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim and the front office don’t want to remain in the headlines when it comes to this situation, but it sounds like Murray’s camp is fine residing there until it gets what it wants. Keim spoke to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, and he said that while the two sides haven’t spoken in a couple of days, there has been dialogue. As far as the statement goes, Keim didn’t want to make it more than it already is.
“I think it’s an agent doing his job,” said Keim. “I have a lot of respect for Erik Burkhardt and obviously Kyler Murray. From my standpoint, it’s always been moving forward any kind of speculation, any negotiations, any conversations and dialogue will be certainly held confidential between the three of us.”
Keim was then asked what he thought when he saw the statement. He again reiterated that he thought it was an agent doing his job.
“I think everybody has different styles, and as long as I’ve been doing this it’s one of those things that you have to understand people have different ways of approaching things, and I respect that,” said Keim. “You can’t get caught up in taking things personal — it is a business — and you have to be able to separate the business and the personal side of it, which I think is important. You know, I’ve done contracts with players individually as recent as DeAndre Hopkins and that’s one of the things we had to talk about, to make sure that when we sat in there together face-to-face that we were going to be able to talk this out like grown men, and it wasn’t going to become personal, and there weren’t going to be any emotional problems from it, and to his credit, he did a great job.”
Keim then was asked if he was worried there could be negative repercussions if the extension didn’t get completed this offseason. He responded with a simple “No.”
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Publishing a statement like this at the end of February is certainly an aggressive negotiation tactic, as quarterbacks who are just three years into their careers usually don’t sign extensions this early. As CBS Sports’ John Breech pointed out, the earliest a deal has ever been done for a third-year quarterback came when Ryan Tannehill signed one in May 2015. Murray is entering the final season of his four-year rookie deal in 2022, and Arizona can push that through 2023 by exercising his fifth-year option.
This will be an interesting situation to watch this offseason since the Cardinals do not have to extend Murray immediately, yet that’s exactly what he and his camp want. Included in the statement, in bold, was “Actions speak much louder than words in this volatile business.”