Athletics outfield prospect and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray announced today that he has formally declared for the NFL Draft. While this is a largely procedural move that was widely anticipated and does not preclude him from opting to continue as a professional baseball player, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Murray “has informed the Oakland A’s of his intention to follow his heart to the NFL” (Twitter link).
It’s not feasible for Murray to endure the rigors of playing quarterback in the NFL and then also playing baseball in the spring and summer; reports from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser and Henry Schulman indicated last week that there was no scenario in which Murray would play both sports professionally. Schefter tweets today that Murray’s mind “has been made up,” though there is of course still time for a late change of heart.
The Athletics have reportedly been discussing signing Murray to a Major League contract and adding him to the 40-man roster as a means of swaying him away from a football career. While ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported last night that the league would not stand in the way of Murray signing a Major League deal so quickly despite the fact that the collective bargaining agreement ruled out MLB contracts for draftees back in 2012, Schefter’s reports today suggest that Murray isn’t all that likely to be swayed. He does technically still have a few weeks to decide, and the Athletics, it seems, can continue to negotiate with agent Scott Boras in the meantime.
As I noted last week when looking at the situation, if Murray is drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, he stands to earn more than double the $4.66MM signing bonus that the Athletics gave him when selecting him with the ninth overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft. Last year’s No. 32 pick in the NFL Draft, Lamar Jackson, signed for nearly $9.5MM and will earn every bit of that sum; beyond that, he quickly ascended to a starter’s role in the NFL. On the flip side, even after signing a theoretical Major League deal, Murray would still need to spend at the very least one to two seasons developing in front of sparse minor league crowds before reaching the big leagues.
Should Murray pursue his career in football, Slusser and Schulman reported last week that the Athletics will not receive a compensatory pick in this June’s draft. Murray would have to return that $4.66MM bonus to Oakland, though he’d quite likely be setting himself up to earn substantially more money in the very near future.