Oklahoma Sooners quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray has entered his name into the NFL draft.
Underclassmen have until midnight tonight to declare for the draft, but Murray had actually submitted his paperwork on Friday, according to ESPN. Murray will likely be a first-round draft pick, according to CBS Sports. That puts the Oakland A’s, who drafted Murray in the first round of last summer’s major league baseball draft, in a difficult position. Murray signed for nearly a $5 million bonus, but he is extremely likely to choose the NFL over baseball.
For starters, Murray will make much more money in the near term. As a top NFL draft pick at a premium position, Murray will command a much higher salary than what Oakland would pay. Murray’s teammate and Heisman predecessor, Baker Mayfield, signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Cleveland Browns after being the top pick last season. The last quarterback drafted in the first round in 2018, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, signed for just over $9 million with a nearly $5 million signing bonus. Murray would only earn a minor league salary of a maximum of about $70,000 per year if he played baseball. Months ago, Kliff Kingsbury said that he would draft Murray with the top pick in the NFL draft. Now, Kingsbury is the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, who own the top pick in the NFL draft.
Murray also reportedly prefers football over baseball, according to NFL insider Chris Mortensen. While he displayed outstanding potential and athleticism as a baseball prospect, Murray’s production on the diamond does not match what he has accomplished on the gridiron.
2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray declares for the NFL Draft pic.twitter.com/j1Ei2YppX8— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 14, 2019
These possibilities may be too tempting for Murray to ignore, and recent events suggest that Murray will leave the A’s to pursue a career in the NFL. In December, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Murray’s agent, Scott Boras, had begun backpedaling on his previously hardline stance that Murray was committed to playing baseball. Yesterday, the A’s and Major League Baseball both sent top executives to visit Murray in Dallas to convince him to forego a potential career in the NFL and choose baseball instead. Oakland reportedly has offered Murray more money to remain in baseball, yet Murray has not removed his name from the NFL draft.
“I’d like to do both [football and baseball] if possible,” Murray told Sports Illustrated in December. “But I don’t know how possible that is.”
Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who played in both the NFL and Major League Baseball, offered Murray some advice from afar.
“If I was in his shoes, I’m picking up the baseball bat and I’m not looking back,” Sanders said.