Kyler Murray gets his money

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Lil’ man gets big money
Kyler Murray dominated football news yesterday when it was reported that he and the Cardinals reached a five-year, $230.5 million deal for his services. The extension includes a guaranteed $160 million which is the second most ever behind Deshaun Watson. Murray will now have the second-highest per-year salary in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers ($50 million/year). All of this ensures that Murray will lead the Cardinals for the foreseeable future and the organization trusts him to do so.

Murray has also made an impact on his team and fantasy rosters since entering the league in 2019. As a rookie, Murray finished as QB7 on a per-game basis. He followed that up with two straight years finishing as QB4 (per-game basis). His dual-threat abilities have been a nightmare for defenses since Day 1. On the non-fantasy side, there is work to be done. With Murray as the starter, the Cardinals are 22-23-1. The Cardinals have had trouble down the stretch in each of the past two seasons. In 2020, the Cards started the season 6-3 only to end up 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Last season, they raced out to a 7-0 start, then 9-2 and limped into the playoffs at 11-6. In Murray’s first playoff appearance, the Cards were absolutely rocked by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Rams 34-11. Murray was 19-of-34 passing, 137 yards, two interceptions and only added six yards on the ground. The offense looks to be a juggernaut again with the addition of Marquise Brown. With his newfound wealth, Murray will be out to prove he is worth every million.

Almost immediately after the news broke, fans and sports media turned their attention to Lamar Jackson. He remains without a long-term contract; but he has reported to training camp. Many (including myself) feel that at this point Jackson’s negotiations should start a dollar above what Murray was able to get. His winning record as a quarterback, impact, MVP pedigree and playoff experience make him a candidate to make the big bucks.

Lombardi Lenny enjoying the fruits of his labor
It was reported this week that the Bucs’ staff aren’t happy with Leonard Fournette’s current weight of 260 pounds. That’s all the news that the masses needed to tee off on Fournette. Training camp (especially in Florida) will knock 15lbs off of his body just by simply walking to the sideline. Fournette, obviously annoyed with the doubters, put out a tweet saying they wouldn’t say it to his face and said, “See y’all September 11” (Week 1). Earlier this offseason, Fournette quickly re-signed with the Bucs after Tom Brady came out of his short retirement. The deal is three years, $21 million with $12 million guaranteed. The Bucs drafted all-around running back Rachaad White in the third round of this year’s draft to back up Fournette. White has already made it known that he will compete to be the team’s top back. While that isn’t likely at the start, he should find an important role in the offense rather soon.

Fournette enjoyed a 2021 season that saw him gain 1,266 yards from scrimmage while scoring 10 total touchdowns. His 69 receptions helped him finish as a top-five back in fantasy. He’ll enter this season as a low-end RB1/safe RB2. White’s (and I guess to a lesser extent Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s) role remains to be seen, but Fournette will need a breather whether he’s 235 or 291 pounds. Right now he is the back on the roster who has Brady’s trust, which means more than anything. A few sweaty days in training camp will have Lombardi at his playing weight in no time.

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Enough is enough
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported this week that his sources said the Ravens would take it slow with JK Dobbins and his availability for Week 1 would be in question. After not having tweeted himself since January 2nd, 2022, Dobbins came out of the Twitter basement to vehemently deny Rapoport’s claims. This may have been the fastest fall and rise of any player’s fantasy ADP in world history. Dobbins said, “I’m damn sure going to be ready for Week 1.” As a rookie in 2020, Dobbins made an immediate impact running for 805 yards, nine touchdowns and finishing as fantasy’s RB24. He will now look to bounce back after suffering a torn ACL in the preseason last fall. Two things could be true. The Ravens could bring him along slowly and he could be ready in time for Week 1. With fellow back-mate Gus Edwards also coming off a torn ACL, the Ravens signed veteran Mike Davis to take on some of the load. Once back in the lineup, Dobbins figures to be a solid RB2 option in a run-oriented attack.

In and out of the building
The 49ers have given Jimmy Garoppolo permission to seek a trade. Ironically, he’s now cleared to practice after it was initially reported that he wouldn’t be cleared until mid-August. Some argued that the Niners kept Jimmy G on the roster as insurance for Trey Lance’s performance, but this all but cancels that notion now. Lance will finally step in, play and not have to look over his shoulder. The biggest question is who will trade for Garoppolo’s services? The Browns (I think) took themselves out of the running after signing first-round bust Josh Rosen. The Falcons were said to have called about Jimmy G., but their quarterback room is crowded as well. Another question would be, is Garoppolo an automatic starter wherever he goes? We’ll see.

Jets’ and fantasy fans got a scare when it was reported that Breece Hall may hold out of training camp. He signed his four-year, $9 million deal just in time for camp. The issue was said to be over the guaranteed money. Hall now gets to focus on being the Jets’ lead back. He’ll compete with Michael Carter in camp for the lead-back role, but many expect Hall to come out on top as he profiles as an every-down running back. At 6-feet, 217 pounds with 4.39 speed and all-purpose ability, Hall will be the most coveted rookie in fantasy drafts this season. Recent rookie running backs like Najee Harris, James Robinson, Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott have shown us that a rookie can finish as an RB1. Hall could establish early and finish as such. He is a great value pick after the third round in fantasy drafts this season.

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