One of the big questions in sports, as spring training launches and the NFL pre-draft process reaches peak at the NFL Combine later this month, has now been answered. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray has spurned the Oakland Athletics, and he’s ready to full commit to football.
Murray has been mentioned as a potential first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft, after the A’s made him one in last year’s MLB draft. That status may now be further solidified, and there are multiple teams picking in the top-10 overall who may consider drafting a quarterback.
At first glance, the career lifespan of a baseball player is far longer than that of an NFL player. Murray is also vastly undersized, and as a quarterback who can run he will be exposed to a fair amount of hits.
Murray will be giving Oakland back the $4.6 million signing bonus they gave him. As a first-round NFL draft pick a $5 million signing bonus might be the floor, plus $800,000 in salary over the first two years.
Baseball’s free agency timetable also plays a role here. Murray could toil in the minors for years, riding buses, before he’d even reach the big leagues. Three years in he’d be arbitration-eligible, with the possibility of nice salaries, and he’d be able to hit full free agency after six years of service time.
So there’s no telling when Murray would be able to really cash in as a baseball player, aside from that $4.6 million signing bonus he had in hand. He can make more money sooner as an NFL quarterback, assuming a four-year deal with a fifth-year option if he’s a first-round pick. In theory, if football ends after that four or five years in the NFL, Murray could circle back and try to play baseball.
Shy of a clear love for one or the other, which is unclear, Murray choosing football over baseball is a decision moved by making the most financially out of what could be a short career in the more physical sport. Committing to football removes the doubt teams had up to this point regarding being all-in, and practically guarantees he’ll be a first-round pick.
Murray is being overhyped a bit, due to a lack of top-end quarterback prospects in this year’s NFL draft class and a general lack of top-end offensive prospects. But you, me or anyone you know would follow the money, particularly what can come over the next few years without having to embrace the grind of minor league baseball, and Murray is doing that.