Monday, September 25, 2023

Quarterback fallout following Kyler Murray’s mega deal, plus key questions AFC West teams need to answer

Happy Friday, everyone. The Bengals were one of several teams to announce new alternative helmets today (more on that below), so of course John Breech needed to call in sick and hustle to his nearest apparel dealer. That’s why you’ve got me, Cody Benjamin, to deliver all the latest from around the NFL as we enter the weekend.

This is the Pick Six Newsletter. Now let’s get to it. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don’t want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)

We’ve got more Kyler Murray breakdowns, training camp injury updates, and much more:

  1. Today’s show: Dissecting Kyler Murray’s Cardinals contract

John Breech joined Will Brinson on Friday’s “Pick Six NFL Podcast” to dive deeper into Murray’s lucrative extension, which keeps the former No. 1 overall draft pick tied to Arizona through the 2028 season. Some highlights:

  • Breech understands why the Cardinals had to pay market price to extend Murray, but he’s wary about celebrating the deal from Arizona’s perspective: “Man, that is a tough pillow to swallow when he is not a top 10 quarterback (and) has zero playoff wins. … This deal really, to me, feels like the first eyebrow-raising one since Jared Goff.”
  • Brinson isn’t as worried about the Cardinals, because he thinks Murray’s $230.5 million extension has “funny money stamped all over it.” Specifically, he believes the QB’s getting a lot of credit for his new $46.5M annual average, when in reality, Murray is actually set to average closer to $37M per year from 2022 through the end of the deal.
  • Breech thinks Deshaun Watson’s record Browns contract “absolutely” influenced Murray’s negotiations: “If Kyler Murray’s agents said (in February), ‘We want $46.5M per year,’ they’re gonna laugh at him.”

Catch the entire episode (and subscribe for all kinds of daily NFL talk) right here.

2. Murray fallout: What’s next for Lamar Jackson, other QBs?

Now that the Cardinals have spent big to secure their QB, what are the anticipated ripple effects around the NFL?

3. Browns signing Josh Rosen as Deshaun Watson insurance

NFL: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals

Josh Rosen USATSI

Remember back in 2018, when the Browns took Baker Mayfield No. 1, and fellow first-rounder Josh Rosen called their decision a “mistake”? Now Mayfield is gone, and Rosen is in Cleveland, joining the team on a one-year deal as insurance behind Watson and Jacoby Brissett. With Watson still facing a potentially severe suspension and Brissett serving as the only other QB with starting experience, the former Cardinals flop is set to compete with Joshua Dobbs for No. 3 duties in training camp.

4. PUP tracker: Michael Thomas, Mekhi Becton still hurt

With training camps getting underway, over a dozen players landed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, meaning they are unable to practice due to injuries suffered prior to the summer. Here are some of the most notable names sidelined, though teams are able to activate players off PUP at any point during camp:

  • Patriots RB James White, who has not played since suffering a hip injury in Week 3 last season
  • Saints WR Michael Thomas, who’s been battling an ankle issue since 2020
  • Jets OT Mekhi Becton, who missed all but one game in 2021 due to a knee injury
  • Saints DE Marcus Davenport, who underwent multiple surgeries on his shoulder and finger this year

5. Key questions for AFC West: Are Chiefs still elite?


Travis Kelce USATSI

Jeff Kerr is exploring crucial concerns around the NFL’s most hyped division, and there’s perhaps no greater question surrounding any of the teams than what to expect out wide in Kansas City, where the perennial AFC contenders lost a big weapon this offseason:

1. Who is the No. 1 wide receiver now that Tyreek Hill is gone? The Chiefs are going to be fine at the wide receiver position with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-ScantlingMecole Hardman and Skyy MooreTravis Kelce is the No. 1 pass target, but which of these receivers will emerge as Mahomes’ top wideout? Smith-Schuster is more than ideal for the slot and should thrive catching passes in Andy Reid’s offense. Valdes-Scantling and Hardman are more suited for deep passes, though Hardman could emerge as a reliable pass catcher with more targets in Year 4. Moore will get to learn on the fly and has the potential to be a WR1 down the road, but it’s unfair to put that burden on him immediately. 

6. Rapid-fire roundup: New team helmets, Steelers updates

Hungry for even more headlines? You came to the right place:

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