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Murray embraces franchise QB label, ready to lead Cardinals

Kyler Murray is a short quarterback by football standards who now has stacks of cash about as tall as anyone’s in the NFL.

A low-key personality by nature, Murray is happy that a high-stress offseason contract squabble with the Arizona Cardinals is over.

"There were a lot of ups and downs, a lot of good days, a lot of bad days, a lot of hate and a lot of negativity," Murray said. "But that’s part of the deal."

Now the deal is done. The two-time Pro Bowl selection has a contract that keeps him with the Cardinals through 2028 and could be worth up to $230.5 million, which puts him in an elite group of the highest-paid NFL quarterbacks.

On Friday afternoon, the quarterback was all smiles in a dapper blue suit at the team’s practice facility. His parents were in attendance, along with his bulldog Swoosh, who could be heard panting throughout the press conference as Murray thanked all the family, friends, teammates and coaches who helped him along the way.

He also made it a point to thank the Cardinals, who took him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2019 out of Oklahoma.

"I’m so grateful and honored for the confidence they’ve shown in me," Murray said. "The faith they showed to take a 5-foot-10 quarterback, that’s never been done before, and I understood the heat they would take for doing that."

It’s safe to say the partnership has worked out well. Paired with offensive-minded coach Kliff Kingsbury, Murray has helped the Cardinals improve in each of his three seasons. Arizona was 5-10-1 during his rookie year, 8-8 in 2020 and then 11-6 last season, when the franchise advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

Now Murray looks like he’ll be with the Cardinals for the foreseeable future.

That wasn’t always the case this offseason during a weird contract dispute that featured social media shenanigans. It included Murray wiping his accounts of all Cardinals references and a lengthy statement from agent Erik Burkhardt spelling out Murray’s accomplishments and pushing the franchise to act.

For all the bluster, Cardinals GM Steve Keim said he was never overly concerned. He said he met with Murray’s parents in the offseason, which helped raise his confidence a deal would happen.

"We had great communication with them, felt great about the dialogue, and understood what the expectations were for both sides," Keim said. "Then I just had to get through the draft and free agency, which takes a lot of my time, so once I was able to do that, I was able to focus on the contract. I feel both sides are pretty happy."

It was clear Murray wasn’t completely comfortable with the acrimonious back and forth between his agent and the team. He even seemed to hint that some of the social media antics were Burkhardt’s idea — grinning at the agent while responding to a question about offseason drama.

"I’m a quiet dude when it comes to social media," Murray said. "Just to sit there and take all the shots, it is what it is. But I understood it’s part of the business."

Now Murray can focus on making the Cardinals better. Arizona looked like one of the best teams in the NFL for much of 2021, starting with a 10-2 record before losing four of the last five games and getting thumped by the Rams 34-11 in the NFC wild-card round.

Murray said the sting of that loss could be good motivation moving forward. He envisions much more success in the future, including winning the Super Bowl for a franchise that hasn’t won an NFL championship since 1947.

"I’m a firm believer in bringing that here," Murray said. "I know we’re capable. I know it can be done."

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Kyler Murray OTAs

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray at practice on June 1, 2022 in Tempe. (Brad Gass)