The primary goal for Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray on Monday night was, obviously, to win his first ever NFL playoff game. An important secondary objective lingered just below the surface.
With Murray eligible for a second contract, he needed a strong performance to position himself for a major deal in the 2022 offseason.
Last night’s showing will make it very difficult for Murray to get Josh Allen money or Dak Precott money or Patrick Mahomes money or any money close to the money paid at the top of the market. The most jarring aspect of murray’s performance came from the lack of runs. Two carries, six yards.
With the season on the line, two carries for six yards can’t be the final stat line for the most dynamic running quarterback in football.
Look at what the Bills did on Saturday night. Josh Allen set the tone with a 26-yard sprint on the opening drive. Utilizing the run threat gets defenses on their heels, opening up the passing game just a little bit more because they’re watching and waiting to be gashed again by a fleet-footed quarterback who decides to tuck and run, either by design before the snap or on the fly.
Murray generally ran less in 2021, with his averaging attempts per game falling from 8.3 in 2020 to 6.2 in 2021. Before last night, however, he never had fewer than four attempts on the season. He last had only two attempts in the final game of the 2020 regular season, an 18-7 loss to the Rams.
Perhaps his ankle is still bothering him. Or maybe the game plan was to zig when the Rams expected a zag. Regardless, coach Kliff Kingsbury was expecting Murray to play the biggest game of his career. The end result was a far cry from that.
It creates a real question as to whether the Cardinals will offer him a contract now, or whether they’ll wait until after he completes his fourth season. If it’s the latter, the question then becomes whether Murray will be happy with that development, given that he’s still playing under a CBA-limited rookie deal when he has shown he can perform at a high level.
For 99.9 percent of all NFL quarterbacks, the unhappiness of a player under contract for multiple years doesn’t matter. For Murray, who was a top-10 pick in the MLB draft and who is still only 24, he continues to have a solid alternative for making big money as a pro athlete.
Kyler Murray makes weak closing argument for second contract originally appeared on Pro Football Talk