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Cardinals Tender Offers To Zane Gonzalez, Justin Murray

Kicker set to be restricted free agent; tackle is exclusive rights

The Cardinals want to keep right tackle Justin Murray (left) and kicker Zane Gonzalez.
The Cardinals want to keep right tackle Justin Murray (left) and kicker Zane Gonzalez.

Zane Gonzalez steadied the Cardinals' search for a kicker. Justin Murray provided a save at right tackle.

The Cardinals were going to keep both, and they took the first step Tuesday as they tendered one-year offers to Gonzalez as a restricted free agent and Murray as an exclusive rights free agent.

Now tendered, Murray will remain in Arizona. Gonzalez still has the option to shop for a free-agent offer elsewhere, but the Cardinals have a chance to match.

Gonzalez was tendered at the second-round level according to his agent, so any team that signed him to an offer sheet would have to give up a second-round pick if the Cardinals were to let him go. The second-round tender is estimated to be around $3.25 million. The Cards can also still sign Gonzalez to a long-term deal.

Gonzalez had 127 points last season, converting 31-of-35 field goals and 34-of-35 extra points in the best year of his brief career. A seventh-round pick out of Arizona State by the Browns in 2017, Gonzalez battled injury issues before being released by Cleveland and then signed by the Cardinals in 2018 after injuries to Phil Dawson.

Murray was claimed off waivers at the end of the preseason, the Cardinals his sixth team in just two NFL seasons. But after veteran Marcus Gilbert tore his ACL, he was a crucial addition, and once Jordan Mills also had a season-ending knee injury, Murray was really the only option to play right tackle.

Murray ended up starting 12 games and did so well that he earned an extra $346,499 on top of his $570,000 salary thanks to the league's performance-based distribution policy, in place specifically for lower paid players who end up as key contributors.

Murray's play improved as the season went on, to the point where the Cardinals like him long-term as a reserve in the least and he could still be an option to start.

"When we claimed Justin he certainly showed the ability to play right tackle and towards the end of the season I thought he played at a fairly high level," GM Steve Keim said at the NFL Scouting combine. "He's a guy who we're excited to have back. He worked his tail off in the weight room, did all the things (offensive line coach Sean Kugler) wanted to see in the film room so he's a guy we think can continue to grow and get better."

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