It’s no secret the Arizona Cardinals are heavily interested in Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray despite having taken Josh Rosen in the top 10 of the draft just a year ago. A lot of the interest in Murray obviously comes from newly appointed head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who has a strong relationship with both Murray and his father. Kingsbury, a former Texas Tech head coach, recruited Murray out of high school, and the two have a very strong bond.
While it’s very likely Kingsbury would take Murray with the first overall pick if he could, the decision isn’t his. General manager Steve Keim will be making the pick when the draft begins April 25.
So, if Keim is making the pick, why has he allowed the Cardinals’ public interest in Murray to continue? While he certainly hasn’t said anything bad about Rosen, he could have shot down the Murray rumors months ago at the NFL scouting combine.
Evidently, Keim likes Murray as well. Does he like him well enough to take him with the first pick in the draft, or is he trying to draw up interest for a king’s ransom of draft picks?
Does that mean he’ll make the extremely bold move to move on from Rosen after just one season? Not necessarily. However, he’s thrown his football team into a quarterback controversy.
Keim is playing with fire.
The Cardinals brass is not doing their young quarterback any favors by flirting with another college prospect. Rosen certainly can’t be too pleased with the team’s obvious interest in Murray.
If Rosen had come onto the Cardinals’ 2014 roster that had Super Bowl talent written all over it and performed poorly, things might be a little different.
But he didn’t. Rosen had Pro Football Focus’ worst pass-blocking offensive line in the entire league, two offensive coordinators (one who was fired midseason for the second year in a row and another who had been a QB coach months prior), and limited wide receiver help.
Again, many feel this is all to build up interest from teams like the Oakland Raiders or New York Giants, who have both expressed interest in Kyler Murray. It’s also possible Keim has had discussions with Rosen privately that change this entire narrative in Rosen’s favor. We’ll never know.
Man, oh man, Steve Keim. You’ve put yourself in a predicament.
If the Cardinals move on from Rosen in favor of Murray, they’d better be 100,000 percent sure the former Oklahoma QB will be better in the long term. The thing is this: Can anyone accurately make that decision as of today?
If Rosen goes to another team and turns into a star (a la Brett Favre), Keim’s job will likely be lost. It will haunt the organization forever. That hurt can be mitigated if Murray becomes the player many believe he can be, but that is far from a guarantee.
But let’s imagine Murray struggles and Rosen is the player Cardinals fans dreamed to be in an offense that had more than three plays in its arsenal. That wouldn’t bode well for a team and fan base that just had one of the most miserable seasons in recent history, or its GM.
In a perfect world, Rosen or Kyler go to their respective teams and both perform well. However, happy endings aren’t typically a reality in the NFL.
There is, of course, another side to this.
What if the Cardinals keep Rosen and Murray turns into the NFL’s biggest star? If Rosen didn’t show massive improvement, Keim will likely have cost himself his own job.
Let’s make one thing straight: Keim’s tenure with the Cardinals would not be at risk if they stuck to Rosen from day one and decided on taking a pass rusher at No. 1 overall. This is what everyone thought to be a given before the Murray rumors. To almost everyone, quarterback was not a need for the Cardinals following the 2018 season. The entire offseason was supposed to be focused on building around Rosen so that he may take the Year 2 leap that Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Mitchell Trubisky all made.
Murray becoming a great quarterback would have had no effect on Keim, as he already had his young signal-caller to try and develop.
But because Keim has allowed his team to become associated with Murray, he has put himself and his job in a very difficult position.
Only one quarterback can take the field for the Arizona Cardinals: Murray or Rosen. This decision will impact the future of the team for years.
Keim started with the Cardinals organization as a scout and worked his way up to general manager. He’s shown incredible commitment to this organization for years. I sincerely hope he gets this right.
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