PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers are listed as one of the favorites to acquire Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, according to odds posted by BetOnline.ag.
Both the Steelers and Cardinals are in the process of figuring out if their current quarterback is the one they want to commit to for the future.
Murray, 26, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma and seemed destined to be the Cardinals franchise quarterback for a long time when he broke into the league. Last July, he signed a five-year, $230.5 million contract extension with $160 million in guaranteed money.
Then the bottom fell out. Murray struggled through the first 11 games of the season, posting a career-low 87.2 passer rating and 53.6 QBR. Then he suffered a torn ACL on December 12.
Two days later, the Cardinals announced that Steve Keim, the general manager who had drafted Murray, was taking a leave of absence. He never returned. The Cardinals finished the season 4-13. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury was fired.
Murray still hasn’t returned from his injury (he is expected to this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons), and the Cardinals are well within a rebuild under new general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon.
Murray is a leftover from the previous regime that might not fit their plans, their budget, or their timeframe for competition. The 1-8 Cardinals are currently in the running for the No. 1 overall pick, depending on how things go after Murray returns.
So a trade seems like it would be in the best interests for both parties, but Murray being on the Non-Football Injury list precluded him being traded before the deadline. That leaves this offseason, and prompted the odds posted for potential destinations.
Where could Murray land?
The top spot is the New England Patriots, with 5/1 odds, followed by the Tennessee Titans (11/2), New York Giants (6/1), Atlanta Falcons (7/1) and Washington Commanders and Pittsburgh Steelers (9/1).
Some of those landing spots seem to make more sense than others. The Patriots are in Year Three of watching Mac Jones struggle and would likely be justified in giving up on him this offseason if things don’t turn around.
The Falcons just bailed on Desmond Ridder and don’t seem to have another option capable of assuming a franchise quarterback mantle.
The Giants would probably love Murray, but would need to find a landing spot for Daniel Jones’ big deal first, which might be easier said than done.
The Titans, who seem to have found something in rookie Will Levis, and the Commanders, who are second in the league in passing with Sam Howell, seem to make little sense.
What about the Steelers?
For Omar Khan and the Steelers, this offseason would probably be too soon to move on from former first-round pick Kenny Pickett. Yes, he has been statistically near the bottom of the pack again this season (29th in completion percentage, 26th in quarterback rating, 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt.) But the team is 5-3, and even if things don’t improve this season, the team is probably more likely to make a change at coordinator than quarterback this coming offseason.
That being said, it’s hard to dismiss the notion completely. Of the quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft, Davis Mills, Trey Lance and Zach Wilson were replaced as starters by their teams before the start of their third season. Jones might not be far behind. Ridder has already been benched in his first season as starter and Malik Willis from 2022 has been passed up by Levis.
NFL teams have less patience than ever to wait for results, and while the Steelers are on the stoic end of that spectrum, even they are not immune. Will they really move on for Pickett for the chance at a big-time playmaker like Murray? Even the odds say it isn’t likely, but it might be possible.