In case you missed it, 2018 Heisman Trophy winner and former Oklahoma Quarterback Kyler Murray is entering the 2019 NFL Draft. Why’s this a big deal? Well, Murray was the 9th overall pick of the Oakland A’s in the 2018 MLB Draft. He signed a contract with Oakland which included a $4.66 million signing bonus. Noted in that contract was the fact that Murray could play football for 1 year at Oklahoma (think Billy Beane and the A’s organization is kicking themselves now for allowing this in the contract?).
By deciding to enter the NFL draft, he has made the decision that he will be playing in the NFL for years to come, instead of the MLB. He will now have to give up the $4.66 million signing bonus he was going to receive from Oakland.
As stated before, Murray was the 9th overall pick in this past year’s MLB Draft. Don’t let that diminish the talent that evaluators have always seen in him on the football field. He was a 5 star QB recruit coming out of high school and committed to Texas A&M. He would end up transferring from A&M to Oklahoma after his freshman year. The important thing to note about his transfer was that he had a concern with the football situation at Texas A&M, not the baseball situation. This should have foreshadowed the events we’ve seen unfold the last few days.
Murray had huge shoes to fill at Oklahoma coming into the 2018 season, replacing the most recent Heisman winner and #1 overall pick in the draft – Baker Mayfield. Needless to say, he didn’t disappoint since he won the Heisman, lead Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff, and finished first in several NCAA statistical categories.
As the season went on, whispers began about whether Murray should give up baseball and enter the NFL Draft instead. Anonymous scouts started texting insiders that he’d be a 2nd round pick at worst and that his combination of speed, athleticism, and arm would lead him to success as a QB at the pro-level.
I will say that the more I watched him, the more I fell in love with him as the season progressed. He’s one of the most explosive players I’ve ever seen on a college football field. As Murray lost to Alabama in the CFP Semi-Final, I remember thinking to myself “damn it’s an absolute shame we’ll never get to see him on the football field again.”
Then all the rumors started coming out that he was debating entering the NFL Draft and spurning the A’s. Finally, on Monday, those rumors became facts.
So now there are plenty of people saying, “Murray is an idiot for choosing football over baseball!” They’re citing reasons such as, “baseball is the smart move for the future of his health. Everyone knows football is more demanding and damaging on the body.”
They’re also saying he would have more success and make more money in baseball than the NFL.
Is there some validity to these points? Yes, of course, but there are plenty of pros in choosing the NFL instead.
First, Murray can immediately make more money in his first year in the NFL, than he can in the MLB if he’s drafted in the first round. Last year, Lamar Jackson was the last pick of the first round and got a $5 million signing bonus along with a 4-year contract worth $9.47 million guaranteed. If we look at someone like Derwin James, selected at 17th overall, he received a $7.1 million signing bonus and $12.39 guaranteed over 4 years. Finally, let’s look at the 10th overall pick Josh Rosen, who received a signing bonus of about $11 million and $17.84 million guaranteed over 4 years.
The draft is still about 3 months away but based on the talk around Murray and the fact that he’s choosing the NFL, it appears that he’ll end up being a first round pick with a chance to make a lot of money.
Also, should Murray become a star in the NFL, or even show great potential, he would be rewarded handsomely with a big contract. Take for example everyone’s favorite all-time Patriot not named Tom Brady. Jimmy Garoppolo, who had started a grand total of seven games in his NFL career prior to this season got a contract worth up to $137.5 million over 5 years. The contract paid him $42.6 million this year alone!
In regards to people who argue that he should have stayed with baseball, the trip to the big leagues is an absolute grind. I’ve never watched Murray play baseball and while he’s obviously extremely talented to be a top 10 pick in last June’s draft, that by no means ensures he’ll eventually make it to the big leagues one day. Unlike the NBA and NFL, there are plenty of guys who get drafted high in the MLB and never make it to the big leagues or never see much success.
Let’s look back at the 2014 MLB Draft and the top 10 picks…
Of the list, 6 have played in the MLB. The #1 and #2 overall picks both have never played a game in the big leagues… earning the bust label and not looking like they’ll earn a call-up any time soon. Of the list, how many can the casual baseball fan name… I would say 3 at most and the only one who’s looked like a legit star is Aaron Nola.
Murray very well could’ve worked his way up with the A’s and become a star. But, if we ran the above exercise year in and year out, I think it’d surprise many people to learn how few top baseball picks ever make it to the big leagues.
The last argument for Murray making the right decision is the fact that baseball is America’s Favorite Past Time. These days it’s all about Sundays in the fall. Everyone is glued to their couches and TVs, watching their favorite NFL team or NFL Red Zone. We all love to eat, sleep and breathe football. If you have the passion to keep on playing America’s favorite sport, how do you give that up and not follow your dreams to get the spotlight as a starting QB in the NFL. Watching Murray throughout the season and seeing this whole situation come to light the last few days, you could tell his heart belongs more to the gridiron than the diamond.
The NFL is where he belongs and I couldn’t be more excited to watch him on Sundays. Who couldn’t be, after the amazing season he just had with Oklahoma…
P.S. Can the Patriots please find a way to draft him?