Sports

Cardinals say QB Kyler Murray has focused on football

LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – Kyler Murray has made no secret of his love of video games, including the popular “Call of Duty” franchise.

Tight end Zach Ertz said the franchise quarterback also knows he has a duty to study his playbook.

Ertz believes Murray’s love of video games and football can be balanced, regardless of the unique add-ons to Murray’s new $230.5 million contract that could keep him in the desert through the 2028 season.

“Kyler knows the playbook better than anybody on this team,” Ertz said Tuesday when the Cardinals reported to preseason camp. “He’s been in the system for a long time. All in all, I’m glad he signed a deal that he’s happy about.

“I wasn’t there for the process, that’s way above my pay grade, but he seems to be in a good place mentally.”

Murray completed his five-year contract last week, but received renewed attention Monday, when NFL Network first reported that Murray’s new contract included an “independent study” clause.

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He says the quarterback must study at least four hours a week during the season for the upcoming Arizona game and can’t be distracted by “watching TV, playing video games or surfing the Internet.”

Fourth-year coach Kliff Kingsbury made it sound like the studio annex wasn’t his idea. He’s happy the quarterback will remain in a Cardinals uniform for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t get into (contract) negotiations,” Kingsbury said. “My whole role on that was prayer and pleading, and it worked really well for me. That’s the negotiation side, I’m the football side.”

The addition was unexpected for several reasons, including that Kingsbury never expressed his displeasure with Murray’s preparation for games. The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback has certainly had some lapses during his three-year pro career, but knowledge of the playbook has never seemed to be the problem.

So why would the Cardinals feel the need to include that language in their contract? great question

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Kingsbury said he doesn’t track his players’ iPad usage to see how much they’re studying, and that every player needs different amounts. He added that the “independent study” mandate in Murray’s contract should not be a concern.

“He’s got a quarter of a billion dollars,” Kingsbury said with a laugh. “You can only be upset for so long, I guess. Negotiations: Everyone has their own things and they want different things. I’m just happy this guy got what I feel he deserves.”

Murray was not available to the media on Tuesday.

As the players and support staff checked into a hotel in the west suburbs of Phoenix on Tuesday, no one seemed concerned about Murray’s understanding of the playbook.

Ertz, a three-time Pro Bowler who was traded to the Cardinals midway through last season after spending 8 1/2 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, said Murray was the one he would go to last season when he had football questions.

“He was the guy that helped me learn the playbook,” Ertz said. “Ultimately, I have to be on the same page as him.”

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Murray is entering his fourth NFL season and has had considerable success since being drafted No. 1 overall out of Oklahoma, where he won the Heisman Trophy his final season. He was the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 and a Pro Bowl selection the following two years.

He threw for 3,787 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season while completing nearly 70% of his touchdowns. He also ran for five touchdowns and has a unique ability to extend plays with his feet, running through the pocket before making throws or throwing the ball and running.

The only major blemish came last season, when the Cardinals started 10-2 and then collapsed down the stretch, losing four of five games before being blown out by the Los Angeles Rams 34-11 in the NFC wild-card round.

Murray said last week that the ugly playoff loss could benefit the Cardinals in the long run, as many of the team’s players are eager to atone for that performance.

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Kingsbury said he expects even more improvement in Year 4.

“There’s a handful of quarterbacks you can win a Super Bowl with in this league,” Kingsbury said. “We feel like he’s one of them.”

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Cardinals say QB Kyler Murray has focused on football

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