Monday’s stunning news that the new contract for Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray contains a homework clause wasn’t the product of randomness or coincidence. The Cardinals didn’t mandate a weekly commitment to engage in at least four hours of independent study if they believed Murray already was doing that, and then some.
The Cardinals, who made Murray look bad for not studying enough and themselves look worse for paying him that much money even though they think he doesn’t study enough, added that clause because they believed they needed it. They believed it based on, presumably, his actions through three years with the team.
Or, as the case may be, his admissions. In a New York Times profile from last December, Murray admitted that he doesn’t burn the midnight oil while studying pigskin celluloid.
“I think I was blessed with the cognitive skills to just go out there and just see it before it happens,” Murray said, via Sarah Kezele of 98.7 Arizona Sports. “I’m not one of those guys that’s going to sit there and kill myself watching film. I don’t sit there for 24 hours and break down this team and that team and watch every game because, in my head, I see so much.”
Apparently, he wasn’t sitting there for four hours. In a week. If he were, the “Independent Study” clause would be meaningless.
Some have tried to downplay the development. That’s a mistake, a misreading of the circumstances that led to the clause. It’s a huge deal. It’s an unprecedented acknowledgement by an NFL team that, as it makes a long-term commitment with more than $100 million fully guaranteed at signing to a franchise quarterback, the quarterback needs the possibility of losing all guarantees to get him to do what any true franchise quarterback will do without being told or even asked — study at least four hours per week on his own in advance of the next game.
Personally, I don’t know how much Kyler Murray does or doesn’t study. But I know this. The clause was put in the contract because the Cardinals have reason to believe that, without it, he may not study enough.