Being an Arizona Cardinals fan has been tiring the past few seasons.
The franchise was the worst in the NFL in 2018 and in the Kyler Murray era they had two disappointing 5 and 8 win seasons before a 7-0 breakthrough turned into a slide and whimper in the playoffs.
It all crashed down versus the New England Patriots and despite Kyler Murray coming back and showing his mobility post-ACL recovery, Arizona’s roster that was old and depleted of talent has...gotten less experienced and more depleted in talent.
As a result, these 16 point losses to division rivals hasn’t been an exception, but rather the norm since Kyle Shanahan entered the division.
There’s plenty of things Cardinals fans can be sold on for the future, now.
Murray is, at least, a quarterback that you can win with in the NFL where there’s about half the league looking for that guy or running a backup QB out there due to injury.
Trey McBride has doubled the number of 100-yard receiving games by a tight end in the past 34 years in the franchise.
The offensive line has been an upgrade in the run game, James Conner’s contract was a good decision and the line is good enough in pass protection that adding some bodies is sure to help.
The defense has effort, if not talent, and B.J. Ojulari and Garrett Williams seem to be pieces you can build around and productive.
Everything else? It’s rough.
The Cardinals wide receiver corp can’t get Hollywood Brown out there, and Michael Wilson’s missed plenty of games.
Greg Dortch has done as much as he can from the slot, and Rondale Moore is more of a scatback running back than a true receiver.
This all would line up to the easiest question for the Cardinals this year: should they move on from Kyler Murray?
The answer is...complex.
No, they don’t need to move on from him, nor should they without a replacement. It’s clear that Arizona’s painful season is going to continue even if they manage to beat the Bears next week with games against two playoff contenders following.
And they are still looking upward at their division rival, the 49ers.
The best answer is probably for Arizona to keep Murray, add talent. And it’s most likely that they will do that.
If they managed to earn the second pick, however, then it will be more suffering for Cardinals fans, but of a different kind.
Most Cardinals fans back in 2019’s offseason were split down the middle between Josh Rosen + Nick Bosa or picks versus Kyler Murray.
It was rough. Revenge of the Birds readers and commentors can testify to JUST how tough it was in how many online friendships ended or took a hit that offseason.
Going through it again?
Let’s hope that’s not the case. Arizona has a unique opportunity to improve next year with adding one of the most talented prospects we’ve seen in the past few years with the 3rd overall pick, and it would be almost 20 years to the date they’d have taken Larry Fitzgerald with the 3rd pick.
An offseason in which fans and the team sees bickering alike as to whether they should trade Murray and take the best Quarterback on the board is certainly something that bears watching—It might not be a good move, but it might also not be a bad one.
Arizona’s sure to find a place to deal Murray, but there’s enough needs besides him that a rookie contract would make sense and put Arizona into a category where they could make strides faster than nearly any other team with this staff and general manager.
It’s a “one step back, two steps forward” move.
But if Arizona’s able to just take a single step forward in 2024, then that might be, for the first time, a breath of fresh air, relief and a vision.
Whereas right now, as they lose to the Niners and stand one pick behind in the race for the #1 overall selection after a Panthers victory, the exhaustion and debate will continue.
At least for another week.