The Cardinals’ on-field product won’t benefit if Kyler Murray sits out the whole 2023 season, but their pockets might.
During a recent appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi told McAfee that the Cardinals will stand to save money if Murray — currently on the PUP list after an ACL tear last year — stays on the shelf for the whole season.
“Every contract in the National Football League — with the exception of Deshaun Watson — is guaranteed for injury. No one guarantees for skill and injury because then you have to do what the Browns did with Watson and send the money to the league’s escrow account. But if you only put one of those clauses on guarantees, it doesn’t have to be funded.
“So in Kyler Murray’s case, he’s got $56 million coming and he has a potential to earn $92 million that are only protected by the injury guarantee clause. So they placed him on PUP,” Lombardi continued.
“My sense of it is, he will not play for the rest of the year because they can’t risk putting him back on the field and having him get injured, and now they’re on the hook for $56 million, and they’re on the hook for $92 million guaranteed.”
Should Murray, who signed a five-year, $230 million contract last summer, suffer another injury this season and be unable to pass a physical in March, the Cardinals will be forced to guarantee his $37 million base salary in 2024 and an added $29.9 million in 2025, according to Spotrac.
“If I were [general manager] Monti Ossenfort and I were [head coach] Jonathan Gannon, there’s no chance I’m putting Murray on the field this year and risking that I’m going to fully guarantee a contract that I’m not sure I want to fully guarantee,” said Lombardi.
Though Lombardi also floated the idea of a trade, it’s difficult to imagine a trade partner would want to take on Murray’s $37 million base salary next season, especially if the quarterback doesn’t play this year.
Following their release of Colt McCoy, the Cardinals’ quarterback room consists of recently acquired Joshua Dobbs and rookie Clayton Tune.
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