Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury praises Kyler Murray’s new deal: ‘At his best, I don’t know who’s better’ in NFL

Kliff Kingsbury signed a contract extension with the Cardinals this offseason, and on Thursday, his quarterback did the same. Now, with Kyler Murray locked up through 2028 on a $230.5 million deal, Arizona’s head coach is praising the move, telling “The Dave Pasch Podcast” on Friday that the former No. 1 overall draft pick is already on a fast track to being one of the game’s top players.

“He’s gonna continue to get better,” Kingsbury said of his QB. “The contract deal, I feel really good about. We know he’s our future here. And the talent — I’ve said this since I got here — is generational, with what he can do running, throwing the football.

“I knew when we drafted him that he had a chance to be one of the top guys in the league, and I think he’s proven that. … We know what he brings, and every Sunday we line up with him as quarterback, we have a real chance to win in a game.”

But isn’t Kingsbury concerned about the way 2021 unfolded, with Arizona starting hot and slumping late, and Murray once again struggling to stay healthy or stay consistent down the stretch? Not really. The coach told Pasch that the QB faced an uphill battle “trying to get back up to speed (in the thick of a) playoff hunt” without his best receiver, then-injured DeAndre Hopkins.

More than that, Kingsbury believes Murray’s talent remains unmatched by most other QBs around the NFL.

“You see the market for these quarterbacks and what guys are getting paid,” he said, “and there’s very few you line up every Sunday and you say, ‘We got a chance,’ and our guy is one of those that gives you a chance every Sunday. And at his best, I don’t know who’s better in this league.”

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All the concerns about Murray’s leadership, fueled by reports early this offseason as the QB’s agent publicly sought a new contract from the Cardinals, were overblown, Kingsbury suggested to Pasch. Just because the 24-year-old QB isn’t putting on a smile or happy face during tough times, he said, doesn’t mean he isn’t positively influencing the entire building.

“The kid, he shows up every day, he came to the worst team in football, and the worst offense by far that had occurred for a long time in this league, and all he’s done is improve,” Kingsbury said. “He’s improved the organization, he’s improved the team.”

A two-time Pro Bowler, Murray briefly appeared to enter the MVP conversation early in 2021, before an ankle injury sidelined him for three games. He was already under contract through 2023 before signing his five-year extension, and on his new deal, starting in 2024, he’ll average $46.5 million per season, the second-highest total among QBs behind only the PackersAaron Rodgers.

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