With the 2022 NFL draft just a few days away, rumors of trades run rampant. Teams looking to move up or down the draft will be burning up the airways/interwebs to try to get the best possible deal. This could involve pick swaps and/or include actual players. The speculation only increases if a player in question is a starting QB.
One such starting QB is Arizona’s starting QB Kyler Murray. Since the start of the off-season, he and the Cardinals have been at odds. From Murray deleting all presence of the Cardinals from his social media pages, to proclamation from his agent that Murray will not return to the Cardinals without a new deal, to former Cardinals indicating that the climate around the team is less than ideal, rumors of a trade swirling around are not surprising. Thus, the rumor mill has been in overdrive the past few weeks about a Murray trade.
While both the Cardinals and Murray released statements in the past week indicating that Murray will return, those statements aren’t binding. Many a team will see if a deal can be had. One team mentioned has been your Houston Texans. Having just purged itself of one franchise-QB level talent (albeit one whose relationship with the team was non-existent and also carried significant off-field baggage), the team is certainly on the lookout for another. As of this writing, Davis Mills is the Texans’ starter, with backup Kyle Allen and QB/TE Jeff Driskel behind them.
With a depth chart like that, it is not surprising to think that Houston might explore such a move. Would it be worth it? Kyler Murray, the former #1 overall pick, an Offensive Rookie of the Year award winner and two-time Pro Bowler, would instantly have the best resume in the QB room if he came over to the team. He is a true dual-threat QB the likes of which the Texans haven’t seen since…well, that other guy. He is also coming off a season where he led the Cardinals to their first playoff berth since 2015.
Yet, Murray does not come to the team without, uh, some issues. He does have some significant injuries in his short NFL career, a concern that will only grow since he is such a dual-threat player. The trend with Murray is that as a season goes on, the performance and numbers start to worsen. He did get Arizona to the playoffs, but they stumbled in after a 7-0 start. His performance in the Wild Card game against the Rams was not great. Plus, he was surrounded with far better talent in Arizona than he would find in Houston.
If Houston made the move to get Murray, what would it look like? Given the massive draft capital that the team now has, they could easily make such a move, surrendering multiple draft picks if they felt that Murray could be the one. Certainly Arizona would be open to dealing with Houston, as they have a good track record of deals with the Texans. On our sister site, one writer offered his version of a deal that involved multiple picks (including a 1st rounder) and Davis Mills for Murray and a throw-in pick.
However, there are some significant caveats to that move. Murray does not have a no-trade clause, a la Watson, but you would figure, especially for Houston, that Murray would have to be willing to come to Houston. That is not a certainty. Additionally, a major point of contention is a new contract. Murray is playing out on a rookie deal, with is only paying $5.5 million in 2022, with the 5th year option worth ~$23 million. Given the massive spike in QB money this off-season, Murray is looking for the big payoff, which means something north of $40 million. If he came over to the Texans, he would want that extension ready to sign on day one.
For those of you keeping track, the Texans don’t have a lot of cap flexibility right now. They have $51 million in dead cap space for the season, and projections have the team with only $5-6 million in cap space after the draft picks are signed. If Murray came over on his rookie deal with a new contract set to take effect next season, the cap figures would be easier on the team. Still, the short-term cap-o-nomics to try to get Murray on the roster would drive the Texans accounting staff to heavy drinking. Additionally, the Texans are nowhere near becoming the contender that Arizona is. The roster is crying for improvement across the board, improvement that will require money to help resolve. Oh, and in a deal for Murray, Houston will have to sacrifice some of that much needed draft ammo to help improve said roster.
Right now, Murray is a better QB than Mills based on resume, on-field experience and most measurables. Yet, if the team is going to pull the trigger on this deal, it is not because Murray is better than Mills. It is because they believe whole-heartedly that Murray is a true franchise QB. By that standard, the appropriate comparison is to on-field Watson. You would have a hard, hard time finding anyone who thinks that on-field Murray is better than on-field Watson. Maybe Murray could develop to overtake Watson, especially if Watson struggles in Cleveland. Still, Murray’s play would have to improve substantially in order to make such an investment pay dividends for Houston.
If I were the Texans, I would pass on such a move. Maybe Murray’s struggles, especially in the latter part of the season, are a result of being under Kingsbury, whose teams have an established pattern for starting strong and faltering late. That still doesn’t account for the injury issues for Murray, and the longer-term prognosis is not that great, given Murray’s style of play. Also, the Texans are a few years away from even getting to Arizona’s level. When Houston made the draft day move for Watson, the squad was already playoff-ready, but just needed a QB. The 2022 Texans have far too many needs. This is a fun off-season exercise, but it should only remain that way.
What do you, dear readers, think of such a move? Should the Texans make a legit play for Murray, or should the Texans stay away? Let your thoughts brighten the internet below.