The Cardinals' $230.5 million investment in Kyler Murray is largely due to their faith in what he will do on the field over the next five years. The Cardinals, based on a unique addendum in his contract, are also counting on Murray to be more of a leader as far as game preparation is concerned.
The addendum in Murray's new contract requires four hours of independent study per week (h/t NFL Network) from the start of the regular season through the Cardinals' final game of the 2022 season (including the postseason). Independent study is defined as Murray studying material provided by the Cardinals to prepare for the upcoming game.
Murray will not get credit for completing his independent study if he is not personally studying or watching the material while it is being played on his device, or if he is doing something else that may distract him from studying the material. Watching television, playing video games and browsing the internet were examples provided that would classify as distractions.
The addendum reinforces the Cardinals' desire to see Murray evolve as a leader, both on the field as well as in the locker room. It also shows the franchise's eagerness to move beyond the wild card round of the playoffs for the first time since 2015. The Cardinals ended the franchise's six-year playoff drought last year before bowing out to the eventual champion Rams in the wild card round.
Added attention to detail will only strengthen Murray's game. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Murray has quickly blossomed into one of the league's premier quarterbacks. In 2020, Murray joined and Cam Newton as the only quarterbacks in league history to throw for at least 20 touchdowns and run for at least 10 more in the same season.
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Murray faces a unique challenge this year after DeAndre Hopkins, his top receiver, was suspended for the season's first six games for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. While Hopkins is out, expect Murray to lean more on Marquise Brown, the former Ravens wideout who was acquired via trade with Baltimore during the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Cardinals' receiving corps also includes former Pro Bowler A.J. Green, three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, second-year wideout Rondale Moore and running back James Conner, who caught 37 of 39 targets during his first year in Arizona.