Arizona Cardinals GM Steve Keim Is Taking The Bend-But-Don’t-Break NBA Approach With Kyler Murray’s Contract Demands

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray has been in a contract squabble with his franchise. The former Heisman Trophy winner who has taken the Cardinals from five wins in his rookie season to an 11-win season and the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2015 in his third season, demanded a new contract after seeing quarterbacks and receivers drain the bank this offseason. He still has a year and an option year left on his rookie deal, but Murray wants the security now. 

Cardinals management has stood firm in refusing to negotiate with Murray in the middle of his contract. At one point, Murray demanded a trade, but he’s since walked back from that ledge, or so it seems, according to reports. 

It appears that Cardinals GM Steve Keim is willing to break from the traditional hard-nosed negotiation tactics that NFL teams often take with young superstars under contract. 

In a recent presser, Keim says there is “zero chance” of the Cardinals trading Murray, but the two have communicated, which is a good sign. It’s a move that was suggested by several talking heads when Murray first started to campaign through social media for a new contract. 

NBA Is A “Player’s League”

The NBA has been called the model pro franchise because the perception is that “the players run the league.” Now we know that simply means that the owners are willing to at least listen to the demands of its players without threatening to silence them or blackballing them when they speak out against an issue that is of great social significance. Or as we’ve seen in the case of Lebron James, certain players are granted the power to compile their own roster, playing the role of player/general manager. 

Pro Football isn’t traditionally like that. NFL owners are always trying to draw a clear line in the sand between executive leadership, head coaches and players. The Green Bay Packers were willing to give Aaron Rodgers $50M to stay but weren’t willing to give him the input he desired when it came to personnel. 

The Seattle Seahawks refused to listen to franchise quarterback Russell Wilson’s desire to have his opinion on personnel selection incorporated in the executive decision making. After reiterating his love for the Pacific Northwest, the beloved future Hall of Famer ended up demanding a trade, and the franchise obliged by shipping him to Denver. 

Keim learned from those situations. Franchise quarterbacks are not easy to come by, so beyond speaking, Keim has reportedly been open to Murray’s “wish list of suggestions” regarding what players to acquire in order to help the young signal caller elevate to the next level.

Keim said: “I won’t tell you what his wish list is, but he’s got one.”

According to NFL reporter Field Yates, Murray wants more ammo.

“Weapons, always,” Yates said Friday on ESPN. “That’s what every quarterback wants. And look, he actually has had (minor) input in the past that has resulted in Steve Keim pulling the trigger on a second-round pick that ended up being a receiver that Kyler Murray is comfortable with. So, of course, we don’t know exactly who that would be.”

Giving Star NFL QB LeBron Privileges 

Keim is actually awarding Murray with a respect and commitment beyond money that most players don’t get. 

“I think it’s pretty optimistic that Kyler and Keim are having these conversations about potential draft prospects,” Yates added. “It makes me think about all the ball and bluster we’ve heard the last several months … the squabbling that we’ve heard. … If Kyler’s talking to Keim about who he wants Keim to draft, that’s a pretty good sign about the fact that Kyler wants to be with this team.” 

And if that doesn’t convince us that Murray has done a 180 on this issue, then the diminutive dynamo’s tweet on Thursday was very direct. 

“I wanna win Super Bowls with the Cardinals, AZ is home.”

A fair share of former players have suggested that Murray refuse to suit up or demand a trade if he doesn’t get a new contract before the season. However, cooler heads are prevailing, and if Kyler plays his cards right he might be able to get everything he wants and then some. He would be the envy of all quarterbacks.

So there you have it. When it’s all said and done Murray probably needs one more playoff season and some improved passing numbers that solidify his upward trajectory and the Cardinals will probably give him all the money he wants. They’re already letting him call some shots.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.