After much indecision, Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray announced Monday he will play in the NFL and not with the Oakland A’s, who made him their first-round pick in 2018. Was it a good choice? Who knows. But its what Murray wants right now.
We all should have the options in life Kyler Murray has. Make millions playing baseball. Make millions playing football. Flip the coin. Heads he wins. Tails he wins. Those are rather lovely odds.
Murray, the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from the University of Oklahoma, chose the NFL on Monday. And by choosing the NFL we mean he waved bye-bye to all but $200,000 of the $4.66 million bonus the Oakland A’s gave him when they selected him ninth overall in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft.
This is not to say Murray won’t play baseball someday. Bo Jackson, Tim Tebow and Deion Sanders. So just in case, Oakland has put the kid on their restricted list and will retain his rights until they decide otherwise.
But now, his future is in football, where he is also projected as a No. 1 pick. And if he is, Murray stands to immediately make millions more than would have been possible as a baseball player at this point of his life.
Let’s assume he’s is also the ninth overall pick in the NFL. In 2018, the San Francisco 49ers selected Notre Dame offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey and signed him to a four-year, $18.34 million guaranteed deal that included an $11.41 million bonus.
Murray made the announcement on Twitter on Monday, using up all of his word allotment in the process.
“Moving forward, I am firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback,” Murray wrote. “Football has been my love and passion my entire life. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100% of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships. I have started an extensive training program to further prepare myself for upcoming NFL workouts and interviews. I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft.”
We can only assume the millions of fans who love the NFL immediately liked it. Wish we could say the same for A’s fans and management. They had been assured by Murray’s family and his baseball agent, the imitable Scott Boras, that baseball would be the kid’s choice.
Then he won the Heisman and took Oklahoma to College Football Playoff’s final four. And then it all shifted to the line of scrimmage. Still, the A’s tried hard to convince him. They told the family they’d sign him to a Major League contract – which would have allowed them to pay Murray whatever – and exposed him to the kind of marketing money he might make.
Swing and a miss. Oakland was out.
“We took the best athlete on the board and what we thought was probably the best baseball player on the board, too,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “The process was right and. … we don’t regret the pick at all. … We’ve known all along this was a possibility. We’ve been talking to Kyler since the day we drafted him. We knew he had a great option in the NFL. We’ve known how much he loves football and what a great position he put himself in with an incredible year.”
Where Murray will land in the NFL is a subject worthy of conjecture. There are many teams in need of a quarterback beginning with the New York Giants (sixth), Jacksonville Jaguars (seventh), Denver Broncos (10th) and Miami Dolphins (11th).
The Arizona Cardinals have the first pick and appear to have their QB in Josh Rosen, their first-round pick in 2018. But their new coach, Kliff Kingsbury, said as recently as last year, when he was at Texas Tech, that Murray would be his choice if he ever had a first overall pick.
Let’s assume that happens and the Cardinals deal Rosen. Last season, the Cleveland Browns selected Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield first overall and signed him to a guaranteed $32.68 million deal that included a $21.8 million bonus.
Drama and intrigue. And a lot of cash on the table.
ESPN draft geeks Mel Kiper and Todd McShay agree Murray is a first rounder; McShay has him going to the Dolphins, Kiper has him eight, where the Detroit Lions sit.
“He’s unbelievably athletic and one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks I’ve ever seen,” said Kiper. “He can make every throw, and he does it with timing, touch and poise. He could be a really good NFL quarterback.”
Kiper makes it sound as if Murray, at only 5-foot-10, is more Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield that Lamar Jackson, who ran the Baltimore Ravens back into contention last year after taking over for Joe Flacco. And if that’s the case, Murray is going to make some team very happy.
Speaking of Watson, here are some numbers to mull over: Murray and Watson are the only FB QBs to pass for over 4,000 yards and run for over 1,000 in the season. Murray is the first to ever average at least 300 passing and 60 yards per game.
The truth is, no matter where in the NFL Murray lands, no matter how much money he gets, the A’s can always pay him more if they want. And they might. But for now, it looks like a squandered first-round pick for an organization that relies on young talent to win.
“If I get do-overs, “can I invest in Apple stock, maybe 30 years ago? That’s my first choice, how’s that? You don’t get do-overs,” said Billy Beane, the A’s executive vice president.