Kyler Murray’s contract falls short of Deshaun Watson in big way, which is disturbing

On the surface, it seems that Kyler Murray edged out Deshaun Watson with a more lucrative deal — yet Watson still has more than Murray in one regard.

Anyone who looked closely at the contract extension the Arizona Cardinals offered Kyler Murray may notice one particularity: Murray is now the second-highest paid quarterback by AAV, so how did he shake up the highest-paid NFL quarterback ranking?

It turns out that Murray is now only behind Aaron Rodgers, who is on a three-year deal worth $150.8 million, or $50.3 million per year.

By earning just $500,000 more than Deshaun Watson, Murray wins the No. 2 spot among highest-paid quarterbacks, relegating Watson to No. 3.

It’s rather amusing that Murray’s agents included this “ultra-specific” addition, as Yahoo! Sports’ Joey Gulino notes, just so that Murray could get a win over Watson before the NFL season even begins. Yet there’s one way that Watson is still winning over every other NFL quarterback: his contract is fully guaranteed.

About 70 percent of Murray’s contract is guaranteed with $160 million, which is $70 million less than Watson is guaranteed to earn despite a continued investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.

Kyler Murray contract still ranks behind Deshaun Watson with guaranteed money

Murray’s contract is the first major quarterback deal to be inked in the wake of Watson’s unprecedented deal, which was signed on March 18.

While many expected the Browns to shell out to acquire the quarterback, no one expected a fully-guaranteed contract — especially not when Watson remains under investigation by the NFL and is now expected to serve an eight-game suspension during the 2022 season.

If the eight-game suspension is indeed the NFL’s final response to the years-long investigation into Watson for a multitude of sexual misconduct allegations, then the guaranteed money will pay for what’s expected to be guaranteed football, barring any significant injury.

Still, that’s not the issue with Watson — it’s that his fully-guaranteed contract sent two messages that created bad optics for the Cleveland Browns.

First of all, subsequent teams wondered if they too would be pressured to sign quarterbacks to fully-guaranteed deals, which clearly isn’t the case with the signing of Kyler Murray. But the cultural message that many perceived after the Browns contract was that the team was indifferent to the severity of the allegations against Watson — or, at the very least, didn’t think their presence was enough to question that kind of endorsement. The contract, and the Browns, have made it clear that they stand firmly behind Watson, which is troubling for the NFL fans who remain wary of Watson’s time in Texas.

The jury is still out on a few things regarding Watson, including how long he is likely to be suspended for in 2022, but Murray’s contract still puts Watson above all other quarterbacks when it comes to unparalleled team support. For those who are skeptical of Watson’s past actions, that is a troubling sign.

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