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Kyler Murray Makes His MVP Case

The quarterback of the undefeated Arizona Cardinals is just three years removed from choosing between baseball and football.

Kyler Murray was the ninth pick in the 2018 MLB draft before realizing that he could be even better in the NFL. Less than 30 months later, the Arizona Cardinals’ top overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft is putting up MVP numbers at just 24 years old for the league’s lone undefeated team.

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In a battle between the 2018 and 2019 top overall picks from Oklahoma, Murray and the Cards demolished Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, 37-14, with Murray completing 20 of his 30 passes for 229 yards and four TDs with no interceptions. Oh, and he did that with head coach and offensive play-caller Kliff Kingsbury and QB coach Cam Turner out with COVID.

“I think we were even more excited because the odds seemed stacked against us,” Murray said after the win. “It was on us to give them our best.”

Arizona is fourth in the NFL with 32.3 points per game, flying high atop a tough NFC West with a conference-leading +85 point differential. It’s the franchise’s best start since 1974 when it played in St. Louis.

Murray has completed an insane 73.8% of his passes — tops in the league — with an adjusted QBR of 68, behind just Matthew Stafford and Patrick Mahomes. His 116.2 traditional quarterback rating is also third, behind divisional rivals Stafford and Russell Wilson, who are also the only QBs who average more than Murray’s 8.9 yards per attempt. While his 1,741 passing yards are just eighth in the NFL and his 292 passing yards per game is seventh, he’s fifth with 14 TD passes (with an extra three on the ground) and fifth with 25 completions of 20+ yards. Those 14 TD tosses ties the franchise record through six games, set by Carson Palmer in 2015.

“Is anybody playing better than Kyler Murray right now?” asked Tony Dungy during the Sunday Night Football pregame show last night. “I don’t think so.”

Murray is in the third year of a four-year rookie contract paying him $35.6 million, with a fifth-year option that Arizona would be insane to decline. That means he likely won’t reach unrestricted free agency until 2024. In a year or two, we should be talking about a contract extension with the Cardinals that includes at least $100 million guaranteed if he continues his rapid ascent.

Off the field, Murray has endorsement deals with Nike, Body Armor, and Kretschmar Deli, has done commercial spots for Nissan and Buffalo Wild Wings, and is an avid gamer and member of FaZe Clan. On the field, Murray’s stellar start has the Cardinals undefeated with one of the league’s top offenses, led by top receivers DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and Christian Kirk.

For a player who just three years ago was deciding between football and baseball, Kyler Murray’s right choice might earn him an MVP in just his third NFL season.