After some contentious contract negotiations this off-season, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray signed a 5-year, $230 million contract, including a $29 million signing bonus, $160 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $46 million. Arizona was hitching their wagon to Murray and it was hard to blame them since they had failed to find a true franchise quarterback since Kurt Warner retired back in 2009. The risk for Arizona was clearly the chance Murray could be injured during the duration of his deal. It seemed like a safe bet as Murray had been relatively healthy throughout his career, with only a handful of missed games due to hamstring, ankle, thigh and minor shoulder ailments. Unfortunately, disaster struck on the third play from scrimmage last night as Murray went down with a non-contact injury that later proved to be a torn ACL. He will undoubtedly miss the rest of the season and his availability for week one next year could be in doubt. This injury is significant in dynasty leagues, so let’s take a look at the players whose values have been affected.
Kyler Murray, QB ARI
This injury simply stinks for Murray.
His mobility is a huge part of his game (and his dynasty value) and we’re not going to see him back on the field for some time now. The bigger concern is just what kind of player he’ll be when he comes back. Dynasty owners really shouldn’t panic as torn ACLs seem to be a rite of passage these days, though Murray does rely more on his legs than most quarterbacks. While a torn ACL for Tom Brady around 50 years ago proved to be a blip on the radar, someone like Brady doesn’t rely on his athleticism nearly as much as a player like Murray. Over his first 57 games as a Cardinal, Murray has thrown for 13,848 yards and 84 touchdowns, but also ran for over 2,200 more and scored a whopping 23 touchdowns on the ground – that’s very significant in fantasy football. If he comes back and isn’t confident in his legs for a while, we could see those rushing numbers suffer for a while until he feels good again.
The expectation is likely that we see Murray back on the field early next season. However, it’s also likely going to take him all of next year to get comfortable playing on his knee again and we are likely not going to see “vintage” Kyler Murray until 2024, which will be the third year of his contract and what seems to be light years away from now. Murray is currently our QB7 and that’s just not going to be sustainable at this point as he’ll tumble down the rankings into the mid-teens at this point. Hopefully you have a better backup plan than the Cardinals do at this point. Expect Murray’s ADP to go down a round or two based on this new injury. Like we said. This stinks.
The two quarterbacks on the Cardinals roster at the moment are Colt McCoy and Trace McSorley. McCoy has always been pretty solid in relief throughout his career, but he is what he is at this point and that’s a checkdown quarterback who simply won’t put up big numbers. McSorley has better upside from a dynasty perspective, but it’s hard to see either being the starter at the beginning of next season should Murray be on the shelf. At this point, the starter for the rest of the year should be rostered in 2QB / Superflex leagues, but that seems like a desperation play in the short-term.
Cardinals Skill Players
The Cardinals finally had most of the band back together last night, but we’re now going to need to wait for quite some time before we see the likes of Murray, James Conner, Marquise Brown, Zach Ertz, and DeAndre Hopkins all the field at the same time. Arizona’s season was absolutely destroyed by injuries and suspensions and the value of all these players has suffered. Those who needed dominant short-term performances from any of these players in the fantasy playoffs are going to be disappointed today. While Hopkins is still a must-start, expectations should be tempered. On the positive front, the Murray injury shouldn’t really take away long-term value from this group, though some of them like Conner and Ertz are aging quickly.
You would have to believe the Cardinals will be in the market for a stopgap quarterback to hedge their bets on a quick Murray return next season. Some veteran free agents include Jimmy Garoppolo, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, or Jacoby Brissett just name a few. If they do choose to go this route, any quarterback inheriting this offense should be worth a look. However, it’s very fair to wonder if Kliff Kingsbury survives this season and the offensive philosophy could be totally different next year.