As the Arizona Cardinals begin a make-or-break season, new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is showing in rookie camp why the team hired him to lead the way into a new era.
The rookies arrived for their first National Football League camp May 9, with more than half the drafted rookies having signed their first contracts — including No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray. The remaining five players drafted were signed May 12 to secure the entire draft class will be at training camp.
Murray, second-round cornerback Byron Murphy, third-round defensive end Zach Allen, sixth-round wide receiver KeeSean Johnson, seventh-round offensive lineman Joshua Miles and seventh-round tight end Caleb Wilson signed initial four-year deals with the NFL.
Wide receivers Andy Isabella (second round) and Hakeem Butler (fourth round), safety Deionte Thompson (fifth round), offensive lineman Lamont Gaillard (sixth round) and defensive lineman Michael Dogbe (seventh round) signed contracts May 10.
Murray — the Cardinals’ second quarterback in two years, due to last year’s draft Josh Rosen being traded to Miami — was eager to sign with the Cardinals.
Being drafted is “everything I dreamed of,” Murray said. “For me, being in Arizona and being a Cardinal, I can honestly say there is no place I’d rather be. It brings a smile to my face knowing I’ll get the opportunity of a lifetime to quarterback this team. I just have to work toward that and earn that.”
Murray’s first contract has a fifth-year team option for the 2023 season. His salary is automatically capped at $6.39 million, but includes a signing bonus of $23.59 million. Figures were locked in by the collective bargaining agreement.
“This is just the beginning,” Murray said. “I plan to work as hard as I can, lead this team to a lot of wins and, hopefully, a lot of rings.”
During the first rookie practice, Murray showed why the Cardinals made him the first overall pick in this year’s draft. Kingsbury, who recruited Murray out of Allen High School in Texas when he was a college coach, began instructing his new quarterback on the fundamentals of the NFL.
During a 25-minute showcase of the first practice that was open to the media, Murray stretched before the team broke off into position groups.
Kingsbury mentored Murray in basic throwing drills, posing as a mildly enthusiastic pass-rusher before the quarterback began throwing to receivers.
“Not bad,” Kingsbury said. “Some familiarity with the system helps. He can really throw it, got a presence about himself. I like how he operated. He has been born and bred to do this and he is kind of living it out right now, and while the attention may affect other people it doesn’t seem to affect him.”