Cardinals say QB Kyler Murray focused on football

LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. (AP) — Kyler Murray has made it no secret he enjoys 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, no matter what unique addendums are in Murray’s new $230.5 million contract that could keep him in the desert through the 2028 season.

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

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

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

It says the quarterback must study at least four hours each week during the season for Arizona’s upcoming game and that he can’t be distracted by “watching television, playing video games or browsing the internet.”

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

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

The addendum was unexpected for several reasons, including that Kingsbury has never voiced displeasure with Murray’s preparation for games. The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback has certainly had a few duds during his three-year pro career, but knowledge of the playbook never seemed to be the issue.

So why would the Cardinals feel the need to include that language in his contract? Great question.

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

“He’s got a quarter billion dollars,” Kingsbury said laughing. “You can only be upset for so long, I guess. Negotiations — everybody has their things and wants different stuff. I’m just thrilled that this young man got what I feel he deserves.”

Murray wasn’t available to the media on Tuesday.

As players and support staff filed into a hotel in the western suburbs of Phoenix on Tuesday, no one seemed concern about Murray’s grasp of the playbook.

Ertz — a three-time Pro Bowler who was traded to the Cardinals in the middle of last season after spending 8 1/2 season with the Philadelphia Eagles — said Murray was who he’d go to last season when he had football questions.

“He was the guy helping me along learning the playbook,” Ertz said. “Ultimately, I’ve got to be on the same page as him.”

Murray is entering his fourth season in the NFL and has had considerable success since being drafted No. 1 overall out of Oklahoma, where he won the Heisman Trophy in his final season. He was the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 and a Pro Bowl selection the next 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, scampering around the pocket before making throws or pulling the ball down 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 getting dumped by the Los Angeles Rams 34-11 in the NFC’s Wild Card Round.

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

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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