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Kyler Murray

Quarterbacks coming back from ACL injuries

Looking into Kyler Murray some, I came away more positive than I expected. A bunch of other quarterbacks have been able to return from knee injuries, and sooner rather than later.

I’m not suggesting that Murray can be penciled in for his usual numbers. He may miss the first month of the season, and I am confident there will be some decline. When healthy, he’s put up top-5 quarterbacking (per-game) numbers three years in a row, and I don’t think he’s got any chance of doing that.

But when the focus shifts to potentially selecting Murray as a second quarterback in a 12-team league, I think it gets a lot more compelling.

Off the top of my head, I see eight notable quarterbacks in the 32-team era who’ve had to come back from torn ACLs. Half of those guys finished with top-7 overall numbers the next season.

Joe Burrow, most recently, came back from a torn ACL to put together one of the breakout seasons of 2021. Deshaun Watson in 2018 finished with top-5 numbers, and he’s a more mobile, Murray-type quarterback. Carson Palmer and Tom Brady further back finished with top-6 numbers (but are less similar to Murray).

Jimmy Garoppolo came back in 2019 and helped San Francisco to a Super Bowl, looking like the same guy he was pre-injury. There was a dip with Carson Wentz in 2018. The other quarterbacks on the list below, Daunte Culpepper and Robert Griffin, suffered knee injuries that I believe were far more serious than what Murray’s facing.

2006Carson Palmer, Cin.Jan.164,0352813370317.56
2006Daunte Culpepper, Mia.Oct.49292320162.543
2009Tom Brady, N.E.Sep.164,3982813441344.36
2013Robert Griffin, Was.Jan.133,20316124890277.119
2018Carson Wentz, Phil.Dec.113,074217930250.423
2018Deshaun Watson, Hou.Oct.164,1652695515397.45
2019Jimmy Garoppolo, S.F.Sep.163,9782713621323.114
2021Joe Burrow, Cin.Nov.164,61134141182392.47
2023Kyler Murray, Ari.Dec.????????

Note with these quarterbacks that while there’s some decent production, only one of them came back and posted improved numbers – Burrow. And Garoppolo’s per-game production was about the same. Of the rest, Palmer declined by about a point per week, while all of the others declined by over 2 points per game. All eight of the quarterbacks averaged fewer rushing yards.

Murray averaged 23.9 fantasy points in his full games last week. If he drops by about 2 points per game, that would make him a candidate to maybe average top-10 production at the position.

In the last chart here, you’re seeing not per-game numbers but cumulative stats.

ACL QUARTERBACKS (year of injury)
2005Carson Palmer, Cin.163,8363212411331.91
2005Daunte Culpepper, Min.71,5646121471124.931
2007Tom Brady, N.E.164,806508982462.11
2012Robert Griffin, Was.153,2002058157363.510
2017Carson Wentz, Phil.133,2963372990334.78
2017Deshaun Watson, Hou.71,6991982692203.927
2018Jimmy Garoppolo, S.F.37185333061.240
2020Joe Burrow, Cin.102,6881351423218.625
2022Kyler Murray, Ariz.112,3681474183242.221

—Ian Allan

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