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Cardinals Quarterback Outlook: Who will backup Kyler Murray?

Chris Streveler and Cole McDonald are the current backups under contract through the 2021 season

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After two really good years as a starter since being the No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 Draft, Kyler Murray is without a doubt the franchise quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals now and for the long-term future.

Murray made major strides in his second year in the NFL compared to his rookie season:

2019: 349-542 (64.4%) completions, 3,722 passing yards, 20 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions, 544 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns

2020: 375-558 (67.2%) completions, 3,971 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions, 819 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns

Despite coming one win short of a playoff berth, there is still a lot to be proud of especially with the evident progression of Kyler Murray. He took what was one of the worst offensive units in NFL history in 2018 and turned it into one of the most dangerous offenses in football this past season.

Arizona Cardinals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The way he returned to the football field in Week 17 against the Rams despite being in serious pain with his nagging leg injury is a testament to the type of person and football player that he is. Murray is selfless, resilient, and willing to sacrifice his own health to help this team win football games.

If that does not say much about his leadership and his passion for football, I do not know what will. It is concerning to see Murray get injured towards the end of the season for a second year in a row but he is doing a better job at protecting himself by sliding and running out of bounds to avoid unnecessary hits.

When healthy, he is easily a top-10 quarterback in my book as he is able to hurt teams with his arms and his legs. Murray is one of the most difficult quarterbacks to tackle in the NFL with his game-changing speed.

A greater season could be in store for him in 2021.

After Murray, the Cardinals backup quarterback job remains up in the air.

The fact that Kliff Kingsbury made Chris Streveler the primary backup to Murray over veteran Brett Hundley shows how highly he thinks of him.

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Streveler struggled in place of the injured Murray in the regular season finale but put up an ok stat line as a backup against one of the best NFL defenses in the Rams. He completed 11-of-16 passes for 105 yards along with a touchdown and an interception.

It is difficult to evaluate Streveler considering the tough competition that he faced. He remains the No. 2 quarterback for now as he is under contract for another two years for only $1.675 million.

The Cardinals did add some quarterback competition by signing Cole McDonald to a futures contract with Brett Hundley scheduled to be a free agent.

SoFi Hawai’i Bowl - Hawaii v BYU Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

The 6-foot-3 215-pound quarterback was the Titans seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft but was released in August.

In three seasons at Hawaii, McDonald accumulated 8,032 yards, 70 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. His deep ball accuracy still needs a lot more work but statistically, he had an impressive college career as he reunites with former Hawaii teammate JoJo Ward, who was on the Cardinals practice squad the entire 2020 season.

It would not surprise me at all to see the Cardinals pursue a veteran backup quarterback in free agency but with their limited cap space, it would not surprise me in the slightest if they stick with Streveler and McDonald.

The Cardinals have speed at the quarterback position necessary to run an offense built on RPOs (Run-Pass Option) but what their backups lack is NFL experience.

The hope is for Kyler Murray to be healthy for the entire regular season and into the playoffs if they make it such that the backups will not need to play. But, if Murray gets banged up to the point where it significantly hurts his effectiveness, it might be wise for the Cardinals to explore signing a veteran to back him up.