NFL

Pressure Is Mounting Quickly On These Controversial NFL Stars

Darren - August 5, 2022
NFL

Pressure Is Mounting Quickly On These Controversial NFL Stars

Darren - August 5, 2022
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DeAndre Hopkins

Hopkins didn’t have the 2021 he wanted after injuries stalled his form. Then he breached the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy and received a six-game ban to start the season. Many people pointed at DeShaun Watson’s equal ban and claimed this was disproportionate. Nonetheless, the suspension stood and damaged Hopkins’ prospects (via Sporting News).

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On his day he’s one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. However, he doesn’t have a lot of time to prove it in 2022. This is a major problem for Arizona because he is a key part of their offense and one of Kyler Murray’s most important weapons. When he returns he must return to form immediately but it may be too late.

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Jameis Winston

Drew Brees retired in 2019 and left a gaping hole in the Saints’ quarterback room. In the end, Winston became the starter and led the team to a 5-2 record before injuries ended his season. Now he has a second chance to lead the franchise forward in the biggest year of his career (via Overtime Heroics).

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Winston showed signs of progress last season with fewer interceptions than in his days in Tampa. The talent is there but the question is if he’s mentally capable of being a starter. New Orleans also has Andy Dalton, Ian Book, and Taysom Hill on their books but none of them are the future of the organization. This season will tell if Winston is.

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Von Miller

Denver’s loss is Buffalo’s gain in the case of Miller. The linebacker is a superb player and adds an injection of extra quality into the Bills’ roster. However, there is a lot of pressure on the team to finally win a Super Bowl. Their heartbreaking defeat against the Chiefs was one of the most exciting games of last season.

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But there mustn’t be a hangover after that tough loss if they want to improve. This team won’t be together forever and may break up quickly if they don’t win now. Miller will play a crucial role in the Bills’ success or lack of it. There are high expectations but there’s a long way to go (via Cover 1).

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Bradley Chubb

Chubb is a top player when he is healthy. Unfortunately, fans haven’t seen enough of him since his rookie season. He made four appearances in his second year and seven in his fourth. Now he’s entering a defining moment in his career because he’s running out of time.

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The Broncos want it to work out because they recognize his talent but this means he can’t suffer another injury. This isn’t something that he can control so he must feel under pressure. If he bounces back and replicates his 2018 form he’ll bring a lot of joy to Denver (via TSN).

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Byron Jones

Top cornerback Xavien Howard is one of the Dolphins’ most exciting players. This makes it easy to forget about Jones on the other side. However, the Miami front office worries about him because they pay him a lot of money. His 2022 began poorly when they put him on the PUP list.

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Suddenly, the Dolphins have a very talented roster with big ambitions. There is no room for passengers in a team like this because a lot can change very quickly. There’s pressure on Jones to bounce back from injury and produce the goods for his franchise (via Palm Beach Post).

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Orlando Brown Jr.

Brown is a controversial figure in Kansas City after a summer of convoluted contract negotiations. He missed their entire offseason program because he couldn’t agree on terms with the franchise. In the end, he signed the franchise tag and committed his services to the Chiefs for another season (via Arrowhead Pride).

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This puts Brown in a tricky position because he didn’t receive the deal he wanted. Furthermore, there is pressure on the left tackle because fans don’t forget these moments. More pragmatic supporters indeed understand that this is a business but some won’t forgive him if he doesn’t play well. There’s a chance the Chiefs will have to pay him even more money next offseason than they would have this year, but he has to prove he’s worth it on the field first.

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Dan Campbell

CBS Sports ranked Campbell as the third-worst head coach in the NFL entering 2022. Lions fans may disagree with this despite their team’s dismal 3-13 season. Despite the poor results they successfully built a team spirit and fell narrowly short of beating contenders like the Packers.

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Campbell effectively had a free pass as a first-year coach but there’s more pressure this season. The Lions don’t need to make the playoffs but signs of progression are essential. Campbell’s bullish nature will only take the team so far if he doesn’t have the tactical nous to seal victories (via Sports Illustrated).

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Tua Tagovailoa

Tagovailoa doesn’t have any more excuses to hide behind after Miami went all out in the off-season. He has exciting weapons like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in his receivers corp. Meanwhile, there is a host of electric running backs. Now it’s time for the former Crimson Tide star to step up.

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The pressure is mounting on the Hawaiian because this is the last chance saloon. If Deshaun Watson didn’t carry as much baggage the Dolphins may have already replaced him. But he has a chance to show why Miami chased him for so long. He can’t waste it or he’ll never get it again (via Clutchpoints).

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Keenan Allen

Few disagree that Justin Herbert is one of the two most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL right now. However, he requires more from one of the Chargers’ most high-profile receivers. We’re talking about Allen who is a fan favorite but is flattering to deceive at the moment.

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There’s no way that anybody can consider him a top-10 wideout right now. He didn’t even lead the Chargers in receiving yards or touchdowns last season. If the Chargers want to compete with their city rivals they’ll need him to improve and reach another level. The pressure is mounting in Los Angeles (via New York Post).

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Jadeveon Clowney

The Cleveland Browns failed to build on their impressive 2020 and regressed the following season. Now there’s pressure on Clowney’s large shoulders because he was a part of the problem. He’s one of their biggest names but didn’t perform at his peak last time out.

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Myles Garrett helped him to improve his sack rate but that doesn’t tell the full story. The Browns require more from their senior players if they hope to compete in a tight division. Cincinnati is full of confidence while the Steelers and Ravens have chips on their shoulders (via Indy Star).

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Sam Darnold

There’s a strong chance that Darnold’s career as a starting quarterback is already over. An injury to Baker Mayfield can indeed change this in a heartbeat but the Panthers won’t choose him over the former Browns star. This is a significant blow to Darnold’s future in terms of legacy and finances.

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It’s easy to forget that Joe Burrow is two years older than Darnold. Adam Gase has a lot to answer for after ruining the young man’s confidence and failing him in New York. But Darnold didn’t live up to expectations when the Panthers gambled on him and couldn’t handle the pressure (via Charlotte Observer).

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Saquon Barkley

It’s easy to point the finger at quarterback bust Daniel Jones because he is garbage but the Giants have other problems. Barkley should be one of the team’s biggest stars but he isn’t performing like one. He only made four appearances in 2020 before playing in 13 games last year.

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Injuries took their toll on the running back and fans haven’t seen him at his best. This may be somewhat of a waste of a season for the Giants before they pursue a new quarterback in 2023. There is pressure on him to improve but it won’t be easy considering the state of the franchise (via New York Post).

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Matt Rhule

It may feel excessive to label Rhule a “star” but the pressure is obvious. He was lucky to retain his job after a shoddy season but has a chance to redeem himself this year. The biggest challenge is selecting the correct quarterback ahead of the Week One opener (via Yardbreaker).

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Choosing between Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold may be less appealing than allowing another man to seduce his wife. The former will likely win the battle but the decision will have severe consequences for Rhule’s career. Many expect him to be one of the first coaches to lose their job in 2022.

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Ryan Tannehill

The writing could be on the wall for Tannehill as the long-term starter in Tennessee after the Titans drafted Malik Willis. They are sending a message to the former Miami quarterback after his dismal postseason display cost his franchise dearly. Willis isn’t ready to be a starter yet but he may usurp Tannehill next season.

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There have always been questions about Tannehill because his critics believe his supporting cast makes him look better than he is. He’s a decent QB but it appears that he isn’t capable of being a difference maker in the biggest games. Pressure is mounting and he must cope with that (via The Roar).

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Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Edwards-Helaire is entering his third year as a professional football player. There are times when he shines but those are often too few and far between as inconsistency wracks his game while injuries stalled his impact. This is a huge season for the young man because he’s nearing the end of his rookie contract.

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He may begin the season as the Chiefs’ lead running back but they’ll take him out of the firing line if he doesn’t perform. There’s pressure on him because this is a cruel game. He wants to play for the Chiefs for as long as it takes to print his name on the back of a team jersey (via Fansided).

Heavy

D.K. Metcalf

The 2022 offseason was noteworthy for the amount of wide receiver contract extensions. Metcalf joined their ranks after a high-profile holdout with the Seahawks. This made him a controversial figure in Seattle because fans wanted him to shut up and play.

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Now Metcalf will earn a guaranteed $58 million over the next couple of seasons with even more available in bonuses. But this also places pressure on him to go out and perform. The problem is that he’ll be playing with one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the entire NFL whether it’s replacement-level Drew Lock or Geno Smith (via Yahoo!).

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Kyle Shanahan

Serious pressure is mounting on Shanahan in 2022 because the Niners must contend. He’s risking everything by putting Jimmy Garoppolo to one side and making Trey Lance the starter. His entire legacy may rest on this decision but it will be brilliant if he gets it right.

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Meanwhile, there are questions about Shanahan’s ability as a play-caller. Arguably, he cost the Falcons a Super Bowl in his capacity as offensive coordinator. There have been serious errors as a head coach too. Shanahan can’t make excuses now because he has enough experience.

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Frank Clark

Clark wasn’t even close to his best in 2021 because he carried too much weight. Now he enters the new season after cutting alcohol out of his diet. He credits sacrificing liquor for his now trimmer frame and hopes to justify his high salary. The Chiefs spent a fortune on securing his services in 2019.

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The following season was decent but Clark hasn’t been at the same level since then. Kansas City has a strong roster now but that can easily change if they don’t contend this year. Dynasties are difficult to build but this is a big chance for them to reach the top again (via Manhattan Mercury).

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Khalil Mack

It’s a new year and Mack finds himself in a new situation. Chicago thought that they struck gold when they spent a fortune to secure his services. But their relationship ended abruptly after a dismal and disappointing few seasons. Now Mack has joined the Chargers and will look to bring them to the next level.

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There is pressure on Mack’s hulking shoulders because he didn’t deliver for the Bears. Some think that the Chargers are gambling with this signing. This would have been crazy a couple of years ago because he was brilliant. Mack is playing for his legacy so let’s hope he steps up (via L.A. Times).

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Pete Carroll

Everybody loves Carroll but there are increasing levels of dissent in Seattle. Many Seattle fans believe that he should have left instead of Russell Wilson. They think his lack of offensive progression cost the team a dynasty and they may have a point (via Fansided).

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Seattle is entering a transitional period and awaits the arrival of a new quarterback. Fan patience may run out if they have a series of poor results this season. Carroll and the front office will receive the brunt of this pressure. It may be time for the 70-year-old to bow out with grace.

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Alvin Kamara

NFL players tend to create unnecessary problems for themselves and Kamara is no exception. The Saints running back was allegedly involved in a nightclub battery incident before the new season. It appears as though the NFL will suspend him for breaching their code of conduct policies.

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This isn’t what the Saints needed because they already have a dubious quarterback situation. They require all of their best players to perform from the opening day. But Kamara potentially won’t be there because of his extracurricular activities. It’s a major blow and puts pressure on the team (via The Spun).

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Carson Wentz

Allegedly, the Colts wanted anybody except Wentz in 2022 after another disaster of a year. They successfully offloaded him to Washington where he will play for the Commanders. However, it’s been a tumultuous offseason for the former Eagles star (via Delaware Online).

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He threw multiple interceptions in one practice as his lack of confidence rose to the surface. The Commanders will give him a final opportunity to be a starter before they enter the quarterback stakes next spring. There’s a lot of pressure on Wentz and the signs aren’t good.

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Zach Wilson

Wilson had a tough 2021 season as a rookie signal-caller but that’s not surprising. The Jets entered rebuild mode under Robert Saleh and chucked the rookie straight into the mix. He frustrated many fans with some of his decisions but another franchise may not have put him in that position (via Daily Mail).

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Now the Jets have provided him with more weapons and protection. It’s time for the young QB to show why the Jets picked him ahead of Mac Jones and Justin Fields. He doesn’t want to be Sam Darnold 2.0 but the pressure is mounting ahead of the opening game.

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Davante Adams

The Packers surprised many people when they extended Aaron Rodgers’ contract but allowed Adams to leave. Their loss appears to be Las Vegas’s gain because he’s one of the best wide receivers in the league. Meanwhile, he rejoins his old Fresno teammate and friend Derek Carr.

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Their relationship will be one of the most intriguing this season because they may wreak havoc. However, there is pressure on the pair to deliver in one of the most competitive divisions. Adams will have a massive role in any success that the Raiders achieve in 2022 (via Sportskeeda).

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Josh McDaniels

McDaniels is one of the most compelling NFL coaches as we enter the 2022 season. He flunked in Denver before he rejoined Bill Belichick’s staff as an offensive coordinator. Then he rebuilt his reputation and became a six-time Super Bowl winner in the process (via Las Vegas Review-Journal).

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Failed head coaches rarely receive a second opportunity. However, the Raiders saw enough in McDaniels and respected his work in New England. But if McDaniels blows this second chance he’ll never receive another one. If he wants to be the man in charge then he can’t succumb to the pressure.

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Deebo Samuel

Samuel’s contract holdout was one of the most dramatic stories of the 2022 offseason. For a couple of weeks, it appeared as though he was moving to the New York Jets. In the end, he agreed on a massive new extension after the Niners decided that they wanted to keep him (via ClutchPoints).

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However, this was a tumultuous summer for the star wide receiver after he received hate mail and death threats. It remains to be seen how quickly fans forget about this summer. If he strikes up a good understanding with Trey Lance then he can put this behind him but there’s a lot of pressure.

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Russell Wilson

There is massive pressure on Wilson to settle quickly in Denver and lead them on a playoff run. The most delusional members of the fanbase think that they’re going to win the Super Bowl. It’s more likely that the team goes through a period of transition this season before contending in 2023.

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Wilson is learning a new playbook and playing for a different team for the first time in a decade. It’s a massive change in his life but he has the talent to lead the Broncos forward. He is a perennial MVP contender and this may be his best chance of sealing that elusive personal honor (via Fox Sports).

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Baker Mayfield

Mayfield enters 2022 with a gigantic chip on his shoulder. He has a massive point to prove after his unceremonious break-up with the Cleveland Browns. Now he’s desperate to succeed in Charlotte and prove that his former franchise made a huge mistake (via Sportskeeda).

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He will compete with Sam Darnold for the starting spot but it’s obvious that he has the advantage if the Panthers were willing to give up valuable draft resources to trade for him. Mayfield is superb on his day but inconsistency stains his game. A glance at Odell Beckham Jr.’s Super Bowl ring shows why some people doubt the former Heisman Trophy winner.

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Aaron Rodgers

The spotlight is on Rodgers after his high-profile contract dispute with the Packers. Green Bay agreed to pay him an outrageous amount of money to stay for three years. Then they traded his best weapon to the Raiders in a move that confuses everybody (via Sporting News). Will Rodgers even complete his contract in Wisconsin?

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Rodgers was the babyface to Tom Brady’s heel for most of his career. That’s because he played for a less successful franchise that didn’t cheat as much. Now he’s shown his true colors and the pressure is on him to deliver. But Rodgers has failed to carry the franchise on his back so it’s unlikely he will now.

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Trevor Lawrence

Few players are facing as much pressure as Lawrence after a tough rookie season. The former Clemson superstar’s first year was a write-off under Urban Meyer. Now there’s the hope of moving forward with Doug Pedersen stepping into the Jacksonville hot seat (via Bleacher Report).

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Lawrence was one of the most hyped players of the decade but didn’t live up to expectations. Most people agree that wasn’t his fault because of the Jaguars’ craziness. But he must improve and show why experts considered him the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck.

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DeShaun Watson

Watson won’t play for at least the first six weeks of the season after a judge ruled that he violated the NFL’s code of conduct. Jacoby Brissett is keeping his seat warm but the Browns want Watson to step in quickly. If he does play there will be massive pressure on his shoulders for a combination of reasons.

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Firstly, he must convince Cleveland fans that they can support them after he destroyed his image. The best way to do this is to deliver on the field and justify the Browns’ massive outlay. That’s not a guarantee because Watson hasn’t played since 2020 and may not be sharp (via The Athletic).

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Lamar Jackson

Critics continue to doubt Jackson but this is a foolish error. The former MVP is one of the league’s most talented and unique quarterbacks. However, he indeed suffered a regression over the past couple of seasons. Meanwhile, there are questions about his commitment to the Ravens.

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Now there is more pressure mounting on Jackson to revive his career and remind the world of his capabilities. ESPN left Jackson out of their list of top-10 NFL quarterbacks of the moment. This would have been unthinkable in 2019 so it’s time for him to explode this season (via USA Today).

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Mike McCarthy

McCarthy knows that his job is hanging in the balance at the moment. The Dallas Cowboys improved in 2021 after blowing the previous season. Now it’s time for them to become a competitive contender again. There’s no room for a humiliating postseason exit or a regular season meltdown (via Dallas News).

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Many people think that McCarthy is the reason why Aaron Rodgers only has a single Super Bowl ring. They think his conservative nature restrained his quarterback and question if he’s the man to get the best out of Dak Prescott. Jerry Jones says that he has another option so there’s pressure on his head coach already.

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Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey became the highest-paid running back in history when the Panthers extended his deal in 2018. He only played 10 games over the next two seasons because injuries prevented him from playing. Now he’s hoping to bounce back and prove that the Panthers made the right decision.

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There’s no questioning his commitment nor the statement that the Panthers made at the time. Hindsight is a great thing but nobody knew he would be battling his body. There is a lot of pressure on McCaffrey but he is the type of athlete to embrace his responsibilities (via 247 Sports).

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Ezekiel Elliot

There’s a significant chance that Elliot won’t be playing in Dallas next season. That’s because they haven’t guaranteed any of his $90 million contract from 2023 onward. In short, Elliot is playing for his future and the pressure is mounting. He hasn’t been brilliant for the past couple of years so it’s not a given that he’ll stay.

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Elliot says that he’s not feeling it but fans don’t agree. Some said that he was either putting on a brave face or displaying arrogance. The running back is one of the most visible and controversial players on ‘America’s Team.’ They may not be sad to see the back of him because of his drama (via The Spun).

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Kyler Murray

Murray is a happy man after the Cardinals broke the bank to keep him in Phoenix. He’s even more satisfied after they removed a controversial film study clause from his contract. However, the fact that they included this in the first place suggests some skepticism around their quarterback’s commitment.

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There is a sizable contingent of NFL and even Cardinals fans who believe that Murray is one of the league’s most overrated players. He has incredible confidence but there is a lot of pressure on him to live up to his new deal. It’s time for Murray to deliver and lead them to the postseason (via The Ringer).

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