It once seemed like an easy decision between baseball and football, but Kyler Murray is doing full due diligence on his future in the latter sport.
Kyler Murray’s decision on whether to play football or baseball is growing more dramatic by the hour.
After being drafted ninth overall in last June’s draft by the Oakland Athletics, and faced with the task of replacing Baker Mayfied as Oklahoma’s quarterback, Kyler Murray’s future seemed certain to be in baseball. But he had a big season, won the Heisman Trophy himself and according to Kalyn Kahler of Sports Illustrated Murray has submitted his name to the College Advisory Committee for a draft evaluation.
According to our own Jason Cole, five NFL general managers would at least consider drafting Murray in the first round. If he were to receive a first-round grade, that’s where it will get interesting.
If Murray were drafted in the first round, $5 million might be the floor for his signing bonus and he’d make around $800,000 over the first two years. That would surpass the $4.6 million signing bonus he got from the A’s, and if he reached as second NFL contract he’d all but surely reach greater riches faster than he’d hit free agency as a baseball player.
Murray could toil in minor league baseball for years before reaching the big leagues, albeit with $4.6 million in hand for his trouble, then start accumulating major league service time. After three years he’d be arbitration-eligible, with the possibility of nice salaries, before being able to hit full-fledged free agency after six years of service time. Assuming a four-year rookie deal, and a fifth-year option as a first-round pick, Murray could make bigger money sooner as an NFL quarterback.
However, there will be two major questions regarding Murray’s football future.
At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, he’s hardly the prototypical size for an NFL quarterback. He would add a lot as a runner, but that element also brings in extra injury risk for a man that slight of frame.
The second big question, more specific to NFL teams, will be Murray’s full commitment to football. Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders were able to play football and baseball back in the day, but they did it while they could as a running back and cornerback respectively. As an NFL quarterback, taking a break to play baseball in the spring and summer is not possible.
Should he get a favorable draft grade and choose football as his career path, Murray would have to give back some (or all, more likely, if only in good faith) of his $4.6 million baseball signing bonus. There’s risk in that idea though, since a first-round evaluation is no guarantee he’ll be drafted that highly.
Any NFL team that drafted Murray would hold his rights through the 2019 season, even if he didn’t sign a contract.
No matter what, going back to play at Oklahoma next season is not an option for Murray. He’ll either be nearing the end of his first season of pro baseball when the 2019 college football season starts, or set to start his NFL career quite possibly as a Week 1 starter. But to legitimately have those options is rare, and it makes sense for Murray to get a full picture of how NFL evaluators see him.