20:15: And the clause is no longer like that. Report tweets that the Cardinals have removed the “independent study” clause in Murray’s contract.
“After seeing the distraction it created, we removed the addendum from the contract,” the Cardinals said in a statement (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter at Twitter). “It was clearly perceived in ways that were never intended. Our confidence in Kyler Murray is as high as it has ever been, and nothing demonstrates our faith in his ability to lead this team more than the commitment reflected in this contract.”
1:25 p.m.: In the making Kyle Murray The NFL’s second-highest paid quarterback, the Cardinals included an independent study clause in his contract. The odd inclusion requires the fourth-year passer to watch at least four hours of film on his own per week during the season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
Understandably, this unusual mandate has generated more attention than the five-year, $230.5 million deal itself. Murray addressed this issue Thursday, saying questions about his film study habits are “disrespectful” and “almost a joke,” via CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (everyone Twitter Links).
“There are several different ways to watch movies. Of course we all watch movies. There is no need to question that“, Murray said, before declining to answer questions related to the film clause.”I refuse to let my work ethic and my preparation be questioned. I’ve put an incredible amount of time into what I do, whether it’s football or baseball.”
Murray himself has previously admitted that he is unlikely to be a top-level film student among quarterbacks, commenting to the New York Times about his habits. Given his importance to the franchise, that December 2021 attitude may well have been a factor for the Cardinals during their offseason negotiations.
“I think I was blessed with the cognitive skills to just go out and see it before it happens“, Murray said, via the NYT’s Ben Shpigel, last year.”I’m not one of those guys who’s going to sit there and kill me and watch movies. I don’t sit there for 24 hours and break down this team and that team and watch every game because I see so much in my head..”
The two-time Pro Bowler declined to say whether he was angry about this film study component of his contract, but the Cardinals going so far as to include it in their highest-profile extension reveals at least some reluctance to the dual-threat passer’s commitment. This is not the first atypical language in a Murray contract. His rookie deal protected the Cardinals from a return to baseball, a sport he was ticketed to play — as a top-10 Oakland Athletics draftee — before his 2018 Heisman-winning season changed his career course. This move has now seen Murray secure a monster extension – one with $104.3MM guaranteed upon signing.
It’s certainly interesting that, despite reports of the acrimony between the fourth-year QB and the Cardinals dying down, Murray has needed to address this matter after the team assumed this financial obligation. In general, talk of player-team discontent subsides in the wake of big-ticket contract extensions. But it’s clear Murray, who has followed up fast starts with suboptimal late-season stretches in each of his Pro Bowl years, will struggle to distance himself from this story. The Cardinals, who have never approved a contract anywhere near this neighborhood, are also regularly linked to this language.