Cardinals Must Trade the Kyler Murray Contract in the 2023 NFL Offseason
Now that the 2023 NFL Draft is over, teams have a much better idea of what the future of their franchises looks like. For the Arizona Cardinals, it is currently clear that the future now includes a full rebuild in the next few seasons. That means a Kyler Murray trade needs to happen at some point, and with the current status of the Kyler Murray contract, that trade needs to occur in the 2023 NFL offseason.
Why the Cardinals must trade the Kyler Murray contract this NFL offseason
The Kyler Murray contract is an onerous one. After throwing a social media tantrum in the 2022 NFL offseason, the Cardinals inked the quarterback to a five-year, $230,500,000 deal with a $29,035,000 signing bonus, $159,797,000 guaranteed, and an average annual value (AAV) of $46,100,000.
In Year 1 of the pact, Murray played in just 11 games, going 3-8 as the starter, and threw 14 touchdowns to seven interceptions. In Week 13, he tore his ACL and will now likely miss at least the beginning of the 2023 season.
After the disappointing year ended, the Cardinals fired head coach Kliff Kingsbury and parted ways with general manager Steve Keim. Former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and former Tennessee Titans Director of Player Personnel Monti Ossenfort replaced them.
Now the pair is stuck with a Kyler Murray contract they didn’t give out and a roster that is among the least talented in the league.
A Kyler Murray trade this offseason would be a tough pill to swallow financially.
Trading Murray before the new league year starts on June 1 would lead to a $46 million dead cap hit in 2023. That would become the largest dead cap hit in NFL history, surpassing Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons, $40.53 million, 2022), Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers, $40.31 million, 2023), and Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles, $33.8 million, 2021).
If the Cardinals make the trade after June 1, the team can spread that dead cap hit over two seasons. Arizona can make some of this up by saving $11 million or more (depending on the pre- or post-June 1 timing) by trading unhappy stars DeAndre Hopkins and Budda Baker.
Either way, the Cardinals can take this on the chin and start rebuilding faster (like the Eagles did) by trading Murray this offseason.
Arizona is stockpiling for a rebuild
In the 2023 NFL Draft, GM Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon made their future plans clear.
The team traded up and down the draft board and collected multiple 2024 picks in the process. In addition to their own picks, Arizona now owns the Houston Texans’ 2024 first-round selection, among others. This gives them 11 picks in the 2024 draft already and six in the first three rounds.
If the team does trade DeAndre Hopkins and Budda Baker, that impressive stockpile could grow even more.
And if the Cardinals do end up with the Nos. 1 or 2 spots in the draft, there are one of two big prizes awaiting them. USC QB Caleb Williams and North Carolina QB Drake Maye are two franchise-changing signal-callers who would have gone 1-2 this year if they were draft eligible.
That is the course Ossenfort and Gannon are charting to get the Cardinals back to relevancy. And the next step is getting rid of the Kyler Murray contact this NFL offseason to clear the decks for Williams or May next season.
Kyler Murray trade destinations
While taking on the Kyler Murray contract at $46.1 million per with the QB coming off an ACL injury is risky, there are a few teams it makes sense for.
Here are the potential 2023 NFL offseason Kyler Murray trade destinations, along with their current quarterback situations:
- Washington Commanders (Sam Howell, Jacoby Brissett)
- Atlanta Falcons (Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke)
- Minnesota Vikings (Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens)
- Miami Dolphins (Tua Tagovailoa, Mike White)
- New England Patriots (Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe)
None of these are ideal trade partners, and the Cardinals likely won’t get the massive packages that QBs like Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, and even Aaron Rodgers brought back.
Depending on what happens during the 2023 preseason with QB injuries, new suitors might emerge as well.
If the Cardinals are in full rebuild mode, taking 50 cents on the dollar for Murray now and clearing the books for the future is the right play. That’s how the franchise finally gets back on track after the last regime made their massive mess.