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Kyler Murray’s contract makes him sound an awful lot like JaMarcus Russell

Murray is contractually obligated to study, but also able to take weeklong breaks when possible

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

So the legend goes... The Oakland Raiders suspected that top pick JaMarcus Russell wasn’t actually watching the game film that coaches were giving him to study for the next game, so finally they gave him some blank tapes. The next day, Russell said the game plan looked good to him, unaware that there was no actual film on the DVDs given to him by the Raiders.

The story was just a story until recently when Russell all but confirmed it while making an appearance on The Pivot podcast.

“Why would you play a f–king game with my life. Why would you f–k me over?” he asked. “You’re supposed to be teaching me so we can get better, man. I never got that. LSU wouldn’t have done no s–t like that.”

Russell admitted on The Pivot that maybe he could have done more studying to become a better NFL quarterback, but that he was always able to do a lot more than the average quarterback because of his natural athletic gifts and ability to make plays happen on the field that few other players at the position could do.

Unfortunately for Russell and the Raiders, those gifts were not enough and any personal or physical setback was enough to make him the worst starting quarterback in the league in 2008. And even worse in 2009.

It’s clear by now that even in the worst case scenario, Kyler Murray will never come near the bust label that Russell owns as probably the worst pick in NFL history. (That is a title that Russell actually wants, saying that if people are going to call him a bust, at least call him “the biggest bust.”) However, there are clearly similarities in how the two approach film study and that’s also by Murray’s own words.

Even by his own $230 million contract.

Kyler Murray and the Cardinals became the laughingstock of early training camp on Monday when Ian Rapoport put the quarterback on blast for clauses in contract that require him to study for at least four hours per week. This addendum stats that Murray agrees to “complete at least four hours of Independent Study during each Playing Season”; that Murray is contractually obligated to study “in good faith”; that Murray will get no credit if the study is done on an iPad or if he is playing video games, browsing the internet, or watching TV; and that he is excluded from this obligation during Arizona’s bye week.

I wonder how hard Murray fought to make sure that he was allowed to play video games and watch Gilmore Girls during the bye week without interruption.

Murray recently signed a five-year, $230.5 million contract with $160 million guaranteed, the third-highest total value and the second-highest guarantee in NFL history. All for a player who doesn’t seem to believe that he needs to study like other players. Which is essentially what Murray has said in the past.

“I think I was blessed with cognitive skills to just go out there and just see it before it happens,” Murray said, as noted by Sarah Kezele on Twitter, a reporter for AZ Sports. “I’m not one of those guys that’s going to sit there and kill myself watching film.”

Now compare that to how Aaron Donald, arguably the best athlete in the entire NFL and someone set to face off Murray twice this season, studies film.

Murray was in the running for MVP in the first half of 2021, but an injury and the loss of DeAndre Hopkins set him back to be one of the league’s worst starters when he returned. Murray had only five touchdowns and three interceptions in the final five games, then no touchdowns and two interceptions in a wild card loss to the Rams.

As usual, the Arizona Cardinals became a joke of the league when Twitter found out that they gave Murray a $230 million contract even though they’re aware that he believes he was gifted with cognitive skills that allow him to play GTA while Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford breakdown film.