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Cardinals drop Kyler Murray’s homework clause from contract extension

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray no longer has four hours of compulsory study time in his contract. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)
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The Arizona Cardinals on Thursday removed the “independent study” clause from the contract extension signed by quarterback Kyler Murray, saying it had created a “distraction” as the team began its preparations for the 2022 regular season.

“It was clearly perceived in ways that were never intended,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “Our confidence in Kyler Murray is as high as it’s ever been and nothing demonstrates our belief in his ability to lead this team more than the commitment reflected in this contract.”

Last week, Murray and the Cardinals agreed to a five-year extension worth $230.5 million, including $160 million in guaranteed money. But the new contract included a clause that mandated Murray complete at least four hours of “independent study” each week during the season, preparation that went beyond film sessions with his teammates at the team facility.

The clause also said that Murray would not receive any credit if he was “not personally studying or watching the material while it is being displayed or played” or if he was “engaged in any other activity that may distract his attention (for example, watching television, playing video games or browsing the internet) while such material is being displayed or played.” If Murray did not complete his four hours of study, he would be considered to be in default of his contract.

When news of the unprecedented contract language broke earlier this week, Murray’s film-watching habits and the perceived disrespect shown to him by the Cardinals became the subject of debate. In December, the quarterback himself had said he’s “not one of those guys that’s going to sit there and kill myself watching film. I don’t sit there for 24 hours and break down this team and that team and watch every game because, in my head, I see so much.”

On Thursday, Murray rebutted the notion that he does not watch enough film, saying his stature — at 5 feet 10, he’s one of the shortest starting quarterbacks in the NFL — makes it necessary to stridently study the Cardinals’ next opponent.

“I’m honestly flattered that y’all think that at my size, I can go out there and not prepare for the game and not take it serious,” Murray told reporters. “It’s disrespectful, I feel like, to my peers, to all the great athletes and great players that are in this league.

“This game is too hard. To play the position that I play in this league, it’s too hard.”

“I’m already behind the eight-ball, and I can’t afford to take any shortcuts — no pun intended,” Murray added.

On Tuesday, Cardinals Coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters he didn’t think the clause was a big deal and said he’s never worried about Murray’s study habits.

“I have not,” Kingsbury said. “When I watched what he’s done since he got here, the first year and his development in all areas, all he’s done is gotten dramatically better each and every year. That’s what I judge it by.

“There’s a handful of quarterbacks you can win the Super Bowl with in this league and we feel like he’s one of them, and I wouldn’t want to work with anybody else.”