Throughout the NFL Draft process, it's been assumed by many NFL observers that the Arizona Cardinals, the team with the top pick in the draft, will choose Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray of the University of Oklahoma. Kliff Kingsbury, who is the Cardinals' new coach, even said last year when he was still a college coach that he would take Murray with the top pick if he had the chance.
With the draft now less than two weeks away, that speculation has continued, while paired with the question of what the Cardinals would do with Josh Rosen, the quarterback they drafted in the first round last year under the previous coaching regime. Now, a new report suggests that the Cardinals are not only choosing Murray but may even sign him before the draft.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggested in a post on Thursday night that the Cardinals and Murray may already be in contract talks. The evidence for the claim is that Murray's agent, Erik Burkhardt, came with him when he had a pre-draft visit with the Cardinals, and did not come along on the quarterback's visits to other teams. Florio acknowledged that Burkhardt also represents Kingsbury, which may be why he joined Murray for that particular meeting.
NFL teams who possess the No. 1 overall pick are allowed to enter into contract negotiations, and even reach an agreement, with players prior to the draft, and such agreements are reached early from time to time, such as by Miami with Jake Long and Houston with Mario Williams. Such deals have been rarer in recent years, however, especially since the most recent collective bargaining agreement instituted a rookie salary scale.One reason for the Cardinals to want to sign Murray early, according to Florio, is that the former Sooners star is also a baseball player, having been drafted in the first round by the Oakland Athletics last year. While Murray announced when he entered the NFL Draft that he was giving up baseball to concentrate on football full-time, the team may wish to get that commitment in writing prior to using the top draft pick on him.
The latest CBS Sports mock draft, published Thursday, has the Cardinals drafting Murray No. 1, and trading Rosen to the New York Giants. There has been additional speculation, however, that the Cardinals may want to draft Murray and keep Rosen, in order to establish a position of strength at the quarterback spot.