Study Clause in Kyler Murray’s $230M Deal Shows Cardinals Paid Too Much

The quarterback's lucrative extension includes an "independent study addendum"

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray at the NFC Wild Card Playoff game
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has got a lot of homework to do.
Harry How/Getty

In July of 2020, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a 10-year, $450 million contract that set the market for NFL quarterbacks in terms of average pay and guaranteed compensation. Mahomes, who has won a Super Bowl, MVP award and has a 50-13 record in the regular season and gone 8-3 in the playoffs in his five-year career, has seen his record-breaking deal surpassed multiple times in two years, most recently by Arizona QB Kyler Murray.

Murray, who has made two Pro Bowls, gone 22-23-1 as a starter in the regular season and was embarrassed in his lone playoff game in a blowout loss to the Rams last season, signed a five-year extension worth $230.5 million with the Cardinals last week that outpaces Mahomes in average pay by more than a million per year.

While that alone hardly makes it a hot take to point out that the Cardinals probably overpaid to retain their undersized signal-caller, who received $105 million guaranteed at signing and is guaranteed $160 million for injury, a clause from Murray’s pact that was revealed on Monday makes it clear Arizona agreed to a bum deal.

In a twist, the 24-year-old’s new deal with the team includes an “independent study addendum” that stipulates the former No. 1 overall pick out of Oklahoma will need to study “material provided to him by the Club in order to prepare for the Club’s next upcoming game” for four hours per week during the season to stay in compliance with his contract. During Murray’s film study, for which he will receive “credit” for completing and must be done “in good faith,” he must be concentrating and can’t be doing anything else such as playing video games, watching TV or browsing the internet.

If an “independent study addendum” seems odd, that’s because it is. “Teams routinely put clauses in contracts that require players to attend offseason workouts, reach certain weight goals or other tangible goals, but it’s believed that a clause requiring a player to study more outside of team meetings is unusual, if not unprecedented,” per ESPN.

Putting in a clause like this is smart on Arizona’s part because it does give them a way to void Murray’s contract if he fails to live up to his end of the bargain. But the fact that the Cardinals feel compelled to force the former Heisman winner to work on his craft, which is inherently part of his job as a starting quarterback, shows that they don’t trust him to do his homework of his own volition — and with good reason.

“I think I was blessed with the cognitive skills to just go out there and just see it before it happens,” Murray told The New York Times last year. “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.”

If Murray wants to keep seeing dollar signs, that mentality has to adapt. However, the fact that the Cardinals have to force Murray to change his ways is an indication he probably won’t — even with 230 million reasons to do so.

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