“Just get it over with, that’s all I want.”
A promising offseason that started with the hiring of an up-and-coming offensively-minded head coach, an overhaul of the staff and roster and fun debates over “Bosa or Williams?” have all but faded from the collective fan mindset.
Instead, conflict reigns across the desert landscape as Cardinals fans seem to have segmented into factions over the two words that some have come to love and others to fear or become angered over in “Kyler Murray”.
The divisiveness of the prospect and a potential move with how the noise was bouncing off nearly every media wall like some large echo chamber effectively fractured the fanbase this offseason, turning brother against brother and season-ticket holder against blogger.
And it’s not really an understatement, either...
So let’s look at each of these four opposing factions and their arguments for each camp as to what they think the Cardinals will do with the #1 overall pick and why they are so passionate in making their case:
Faction #1: It’s All A Smokescreen To Deceive, Lie & Ruse For The Media
This camp fervently believes that all in all very little has changed for the Arizona Cardinals since the beginning of the draft process. For many, the idea was and remains simple: Nick Bosa (or perhaps Quinnen Williams) is the best player in the draft, so take him and everything else is a media fabrication or was intentionally leaked by AZ.
The argument has some merit. In a lot of ways it doesn’t make sense to trade up for Rosen and then bail on him and take less in year #2.
We saw in 2017, multiple reports saying the Bears’ target was Patrick Mahomes only to see a trade-up for Trubisky, similar to the Browns’ rumors all season long ending up with Baker Mayfield at the #1 spot.
In some cases, it’s essentially the idea of taking the best talent you believe in. It’s reminiscent of a compelling movie scene from Draft Day (mentioned due to the similarities of the situation) in which the main general manager is seeing with a Post-It note throughout the whole movie but in the end, takes the same player that he always wanted to take and believed in.
Similarly many Cardinals fans not only want to have the team stay put and take the player most feel is the best talent in the draft, but also to “stick it” to the media who’ve dredged their quarterback’s name through the mud with trade rumors, hype and possibilities that they feel are without substance.
With talk of “fake news” if the entire time the Cardinals were merely hiding their true intent, it’d be a shock and would make Arizona look like, to many, a master chess player, disguising their true intent by positioning themselves as maybe taking a quarterback, and hoping that Josh Rosen’s motivation will only grow.
Faction #2: Team “Trade Down”
This camp’s premise is a bit less simple than the previous one, as all talk of Kyler Murray effectively is built around one sole idea:
Build the Cardinals around Josh Rosen by acquiring resources
The way that’s been theorized follows this logic path:
- Arizona needs a lot of talent
- Arizona could use more picks
- A team like the Raiders has 3 first round picks
- Therefore, get the Raiders to trade up with you to get picks.
Where this takes it a step further in theory is that it assumes the following: if you believe the Raiders are targeting Kyler Murray, best to hold him for ransom.
Many Cardinals fans believe that the entire process has been a game of chicken between Steve Keim and Jon Gruden, to see who will get the other to submit first and give in to the other’s demands. It’d certainly benefit Arizona and it’d explain many things such as why Rosen is still on the roster and that all of the infatuation with Murray wasn’t being down on Rosen but was being done FOR Josh Rosen; it was done for a point.
Some fans believe a trade can still heppen, or might on draft day. There was even crazy talk of a three-team swap in which the Raiders weren’t even featured:
Now THAT would be chaos!
Effectively, this camp’s got a solid argument as well. The Cardinals need talent, and it’d be a fun moment for fans to have MULTIPLE highly drafted players to join the team around the QB they invested a lot to move up to get last year and it’d also feel, again, like the move of a master chess player.
It’d be like Arizona had the “Kliff loves Kyler” video fall in their laps, took advantage of it and some poor sucker “took the bait”. It’d be thrilling.
Similarly, these fans desire Rosen to be the starter, and that what he needs is talent around him to succeed and that was the reason he went 3-10 in his starts for the Cardinals in 2018.
Faction #3: The Pro-Kyler crowd
There’s another faction of Cardinals fans who, for some reason or another, have bought into the idea that the Arizona Cardinals are going to move on from Josh Rosen and draft Kyler Murray, a quarterback that Kliff Kingsbury’s reportedly coveted.
Murray, despite his small size, demonstrated a lot of factors last year as a winning quarterback including great arm talent and accuracy, good pocket poise and the ability to improvise and throw on the run, and he was voted the winner of the Heisman trophy award.
Given the factors of his athletic ability and fact that in college he was a more accurate & dynamic passer and runner, some fans believe that Arizona is taking Kyler Murray at #1 because they SHOULD take Kyler Murray at #1, and that he’s either too good or valuable at the position to pass up on OR that he’s the best player in the 2019 draft.
This crowd can vary in their love or disdain for current QB Josh Rosen, from some saying there’s reasons Arizona should move on and others saying that Murray is just a better fit for what Kingsbury wants to do and that Rosen’s still got potential as a franchise quarterback.
For many fans, seeing them watch Rosen take the hits and keep getting up only to see fans jump right onto the next new “shiny” thing at the position, it feels like disloyalty and betrayal. One of the worst kind. And it’s led to a lot of argumentation over how much of Arizona’s problems get “fixed” and how much a “risk” they are taking.
Faction #4: The “Please Keep Josh” a la Anti-Kyler faction
The final faction of Arizona Cardinals fans, and the one that right now perhaps could be diagnosed with clinical depression.
These fans actively believe that Arizona will be trading Josh Rosen and drafting Murray and they feel that it’s a big, big mistake. Some have even questioned if they wanted to renew their season tickets or if they feel like Murray is a bust waiting to happen who won’t have success.
And this faction, is by far, the most interesting to me as it’s easily the most varied and eclectic group. Some believe that taking Murray effectively sinks the team’s ability to rebuild the team by not investing heavily into rebuilding with draft picks. Some believe that the team’s in complete chaos and would be the laughingstock of the league to pass up on a highly-coveted pro-style prospect that still hasn’t shown much one way or the other or they simply just don’t like Murray as a prospect.
Whether it’s the fact of his height, how athletic quarterbacks are perceived (he sure doesn’t look like one) or even the fact that he’s an outlier at the position, they think that it will happen and it sickens them to the core. These fans, by all accounts, thread the balance between skeptics and loyalists, with some believing the rumors but skeptical of Murray and some simply believing Arizona’s treatment of Rosen is unforgivable after all he suffered at their hands last year.
Or they believe Rosen will be a superstar for a team other than Arizona.
Now, what’s interesting about each of these four factions, to me?
The Key Point: All of them, understandably, have the exact same DESIRE.
No surprise as to what unites all four factions here:
They all want the Arizona Cardinals to win football games.
The only difference and debate is how they feel Arizona should go about doing it.
And in that sense, while it’s clear that no one decision will perfectly and purely unite the fanbase outside of the Cardinals perhaps getting their cake and eating it too (many fans I’ve spoken with feel that they’d be fine with Rosen if the pick got 3 1sts or fine with Murray if they got a top 15 pick for Josh Rosen, for example) that does mean there’s an easy way to fix these fractured fans.
Whatever the Cardinals choose to do, as long as they are competitive, entertaining to watch and are able to put up a winning franchise over the next few years, fans will be able to rally behind whatever decision the team makes.
And in that case, perhaps these petty differences, while they may matter now, might not at all be what fans are talking about two years in the future.
For now, all we have left though is the next two weeks.
Whatever choice Arizona makes, it’s not on the fans to be “right” or “wrong” on their opinions. All that matters is that the team puts forth a winning product they can support.
And that if they don’t, none of those factions, even those who believe they were “right” in the end will truly turn out as the “winner” because all four will lose out in the end.
SO, do what you think is best, Cardinals. Just remember that like any decision, it has ramifications.
Positive or negative.
Here’s hoping it’s a positive one for the team.
You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter.