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Cardinals plan to take their time with QB Kyler Murray; evaluation for the future is key

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The Cardinals opened the practice window for QB Kyler Murray this week, the first step toward a return to the football field following ACL surgery.

Based on the early returns, so far so good. However, don't expect a quick move back to the active roster for Murray.

Sources say Murray's return is expected to take multiple weeks, with the most likely outcome that he practices for three weeks, then plays on Nov. 12 against the Falcons. There is also a chance he is able to return on Nov. 5 against the Browns if all goes perfectly well on the field and off it.

The team's only charge is to put him out there when he's physically and mentally ready to play, and there is no rush. As QB coach Israel Woolfork told reporters, "We're just worried about him getting back in the flow of things."

Murray tore his ACL on Dec. 12, ending his 2022 season, but he's been active with the new coaching staff, taking part in all meetings. The early returns have been very positive, but given the Cardinals' 1-5 record, and given that Murray now has a GM in Monti Ossenfort and head coach in Jonathan Gannon who inherited him, there are evaluations to be made. It's fair to say all options are on the table for the 2024 offseason.

If Arizona has a top pick, it needs to know what it has in Murray in its system with its coaches in order to properly evaluate whether to take a top QB and trade Murray. On his original $230.5 million contract extension that came before 2022, Murray has five years and roughly $182 million left.

A very palatable contract with a signing bonus already paid.

Trading a healthy Murray to the highest bidder would, at least, be something to consider for an organization that has collected draft picks and appears to be midway through a rebuild. That said, if Murray performs well and all parties want him to be the future long-term QB of the Cardinals like he is in the present, then Ossenfort's job is actually easier -- he doesn't need to draft a new QB.

Plenty of time for all of that to play out. For now, the focus is simply on getting Murray in the right place to play.

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