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While sources said there was no serious dialogue between Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury and the University of Oklahoma, the timing of the leaking of that possibility certainly sent a signal to Arizona brass about the need to secure the future of the potential NFL Coach of the Year.

Kingsbury and the Cardinals are having a major breakthrough in his third season at the helm after a somewhat controversial jump from the college ranks, with the team atop the NFC standings much of the year and Kingsbury's offense giving opponents fits. With one year left on his deal, league sources indicated a long-term extension is a significant offseason priority for the Cardinals, and the coach's leverage has clearly never been higher.

Quarterback Kyler Murray, soon to return from an ankle injury, was performing at an MVP level prior to getting hurt, and with him about to complete his third season, he too is eligible for a massive contract extension this offseason. The former No. 1 overall pick is very close to his coach, Kingsbury and Murray were sort of a package deal in the first place, and allowing his coach to leave as a free agent in a year would be a significant setback and something ownership would have a difficult time explaining to the fanbase.

Kingsbury, 42, could make the case that he should be compensated among the more experienced coaches in the NFL, turning around a franchise that was 3-13 and had fired Steve Wilks after just one season as head coach before he arrived and developing a franchise quarterback in the process. Of course, it's a good problem to have, with a coach and quarterback both exceeding expectations at this level. It's hard for decision makers in the NFL to envision a scenario in which Kingsbury isn't paid handsomely in 2022.

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