NFL Salary Re-Cap: Arizona Cardinals

by Aaron Stewart · Contracts & Free Agency

Hello Underworld, this is your Salary Cap-tain speaking. It’s time we voyage into the world of the NFL salary cap in order to make us better understand the business side of football. Why are we doing this? Well, we analyze college players in order to predict who will succeed and fail at the NFL level. We decipher advanced stats to determine which players are good and bad at our favorite pastime, fantasy football. So we should analyze the salary cap in order to predict the real football moves that directly affect our analysis of fantasy football. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the Arizona Cardinals, their salary cap situation, and what it means for our dynasty teams over the next year or two.

Notable 2023 Free Agents (Age in 2023 Offseason)

2023 Potential Cap Casualties (Age in 2023 Offseason)

2023 Restructure Candidates (Age in 2023 Offseason)

2023 Extension Candidates (Age in 2023 Offseason)

Kyler Murray’s Extension

Finally, the drama of Kyler Murray‘s extension with the Arizona Cardinals is behind us. The terms of the contract are official. 5 years, $230.5M extension that keeps him under contract through 2028. Only Aaron Rodgers ($50.3M) has a higher Average Annual Value on his contract than Murray ($46.1M). Only Deshaun Watson ($230M) received more guaranteed money than Murray ($104.3M).

Kyler Murray Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Murray is under contract with the Cardinals for the next seven seasons and with $160M practically guaranteed per Spotrac, Murray isn’t going anywhere for the next six seasons. As long as his level of play remains at a franchise quarterback level, Murray will get to sign another big-money contract in the NFL when he’s 31 years old. The only surprising thing about the extension is the lack of guaranteed money compared to Watson and Rodgers whose contracts are essentially fully guaranteed contracts signed in the same offseason as Murray.

What’s Next for Arizona?

The Kyler Murray extension was the top priority for the Arizona Cardinals (as it should), and now with the extension finished, the Cardinals can move on to Marquise Brown. The Cardinals acquired Murray’s former top collegiate target in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens at the cost of a first-round pick. You don’t trade away a first-rounder unless you plan on keeping the player you got in return.

Marquise Brown Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

There are two takeaways from the Brown acquisition. One, the Cardinals are prepared to pay a steep price to retain Brown. Recent first-round WRs D.J. Moore (2018) and Mike Williams (2019) both signed extensions that paid them an average salary over $20M. On top of that, Terry McLaurin and A.J. Brown (both from the same draft class as Brown) signed an extension paying them average salaries over $22M, per Spotrac. Expect a contract in the same range as those four WRs.

Nuking The Hollywood-Hopkins Duo

DeAndre Hopkins Injury History

The second takeaway is that DeAndre Hopkins‘ time with the Cardinals may be shortened because of a big-money extension by Brown. After the 2022 season, the Cardinals can cut Hopkins to create cap space. On top of that, Hopkins’ $30.75M Cap Hit in 2023 is second-highest among WRs, behind Tyreek Hill. Hopkins will be 31 next year, coming off a PED suspension this season, and struggled with injuries in 2021. These are the signs of a cap casualty.

Rondale Moore Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

In dynasty, Rondale Moore may not be dead yet for patient managers and truthers. Yes, Moore’s rookie season was an overall disappointment, but there were encouraging signs. His 276 (No. 31) Yards After Catch and 16.7-percent (No. 11) Juke Rate show that he has the ability to be a dangerous after-the-catch weapon for Kyler Murray. And his 26.2-percent (No. 22) Target Rate can convert into productivity if his 47.5-percent (No. 111) Snap Share increases with an eventual departure of Hopkins.

Decision: Byron Murphy vs. Jalen Thompson

The Arizona Cardinals have two young talented members of their secondary that will hit free agency at the same time, CB Byron Murphy and S Jalen Thompson. Murphy was selected No. 33 overall in the 2019 draft but struggled in 2022 allowing 57.0-percent (No. 56) Man Success Rate and a 109.1 (No. 71) Passer Rating Allowed.

Jalen Thompson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Thompson was a supplemental draft pick in 2019 and finished top-10 at safety in Solo Tackles (83), Assisted Tackles (38), and Pass Break-Ups (9). Murphy is the top cornerback on the roster and the Cardinals will have a high-priced safety in Budda Baker under contract next season. The Cardinals are facing a decision between keeping Murphy or Thompson.  But the Cardinals could also lose both because…

Protecting Kyler Murray’s Blindside

Murray’s left tackle, D.J. Humphries, is set to become a free agent in 2023. Following the moves of the Cardinals this offseason, Humphries is the top priority among their 2023 free agents. You paid Murray and traded for a favorite target of his in Marquise Brown, but losing his blindside protector would undo all of the good that the Cardinals have done to appease their franchise quarterback.

D.J. Humphries Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Cardinals fans should monitor the situation between their team and Humphries. Extending him THIS offseason allows them the opportunity to keep one of their pieces in the secondary under the franchise tag. If the teams opts to let Humphries play out his age-29 season and he performs well, then the team will be forced to tag him instead.

Pass Rushers or Past Rushers

Markus Golden Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Cardinals pass-rush was in need of a youth injection. Their projected starters in 2022 are Devon Kennard and Markus Golden, with both of them 31 years old. The Cardinals used not one, but two top-100 picks on edge defenders in Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders. Kennard and Golden are also both free agents next offseason. The Cardinals are positioning themselves to move forward with younger, fresher players on the edge that are at least 80th-percentile athletes at one Workout Metric on PlayerProfiler.


A domino effect is about to begin with the Arizona Cardinals. All of the potential moves and decisions required the Murray extension to happen first. Now with the extension finished, how will the Cardinals build their offense around him? Is their defense about to go through a youth movement?

Under general manager Steve Keim, the Cardinals have won one playoff game in nine seasons, which occurred in 2015. Are the Cardinals building a team that will turn their misfortunes around? Or is the Murray extension and Brown acquisition a desperation play in order for Keim to keep his job?