The red flag that (was) in Kyler Murray’s rich new contract
An addendum in the QB’s contract that specified how much ‘homework’ he must do each week raised questions — about both sides — before it was taken out on Thursday
Most of what we know about cajoling children into performing chores (homework, making their bed, taking out the trash) consists of some form of bribery — promises of candy or video-game time or a dollar.
But who knew that’s what the Arizona Cardinals would resort to. They bribed quarterback Kyler Murray into doing his homework — and all it cost them was $230.5 million.
In the fine print of a seven-year contract extension that will include that $230.5 million — $160 million guaranteed — the Cardinals included an addendum that required Murray to do four hours a week of “independent study” — also known as game preparation.
All of this elicited a lot of commentary and even ridicule, as you might expect. By the end of the week, Murray released a statement defending himself and the Cardinals removed the “independent study” clause from the contract, claiming it became a distraction.
In the end, both sides looked silly.
“It was clearly perceived in ways that never were intended,” the Cardinals statement read. “Our confidence in Murray is as high as it’s ever been.”
Uh-huh. That’s what they say now after alienating their quarterback, but apparently the Cardinals were concerned enough about Murray’s preparation that they actually included it in the original contract — a contract that Murray presumably signed (maybe he didn’t study it) — and did so with very specific requirements, as you will see.
The contract stated that the 24-year-old Murray would be in default of his contract if he didn’t meet the four-hour study of material provided each week by the team. It didn’t say how they would ensure compliance.
Maybe they planned to put one of those nanny cams in his room.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the contract even stipulated that Murray must be fully engaged when studying (Murray is an avid, if not obsessive, video game player).
“Player shall not receive any credit for independent study with respect to any time periods during which any material is displayed or played on an iPad or electronic device if (a) player is not personally studying or watching the material while it is being displayed or played or (b) player is engaged in any other activity that may distract his attention (for example, watching television, playing video games or browsing the internet) while such material is being displayed or played.”
There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get started.
First of all, if you have to formally write a clause in the contract to ensure that an NFL quarterback does his homework, maybe you shouldn’t be paying him $230 million.
If the quarterback isn’t motivated to study on his own, maybe he should play in one of those spring leagues.
There have been contracts that require players to meet certain goals — a certain weight, or attendance at formal offseason workouts — but has anyone ever had to require players to study video?
Don’t players tend to do that on their own, because they’re professionals, because they take pride in their performance, because they are driven to excel, because they want to help their teams and feel the burden of responsibility?
Isn’t video study part of the job? What are they going to have to order him to do next — lift weights? Work out? Practice throwing a ball?
This week, Murray defended himself by saying he couldn’t have gotten this far without studying, but in 2021, he was quoted as saying, “I think I was blessed with the cognitive skills to just go out there and just see it before it happens. I’m not one of those guys that’s going to sit there and kill myself watching film. I don’t sit there for 24 hours and break down this team and that team and watch every game because, in my head, I see so much.”
Last season, Murray and his cognitive skills ranked 14th in passing yards, 12th in touchdown passes and 14th in passer rating. Right in the middle of the league. His career passer rating is 93.9 — average. His won-loss record is 22-23-1 in three seasons.
But who needs homework and video study.
Murray likes to play video games in a public format, with as many as a thousand people watching him play.
He plays NBA 2K22 or Madden NFL 22, among other favorites. According to ESPN, Murray plays “any chance he gets and usually is in front of his system for a minimum of two or three hours at a time.”
The Cardinals clearly hope he spends less time with the video games and devotes more time to the job that has made him rich and famous.