Kyler Murray has made up his mind. He wants to play in the NFL rather than pursue a Major League Baseball career.
Murray announced Monday that he was “firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback.” Given his size (he’s listed at 5-foot-11), pro football success is not guaranteed, but he said he will ready himself for the NFL draft rather than fulfilling the minor-league contract he signed last summer with the Oakland Athletics.
“Moving forward, I am firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback,” Murray announced on social media. “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 percent 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.”
Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy winner, Murray was the ninth overall selection by the A’s in the 2018 MLB draft last June and received a $4.66 million signing bonus. Although the A’s were hoping he’d choose baseball, they were increasingly pessimistic the longer his locker in their spring-training clubhouse sat empty.
“Things have certainly changed since the draft,” Billy Beane, Oakland’s executive vice president of baseball operations, said Monday, via the Associated Press. “The situation is fluid right now [based] on a historic college football season that the young man had.”
Although NFL talent evaluators gravitate toward taller quarterbacks, the success of stars such as Russell Wilson (at 5-11) and Baker Mayfield (generously listed at 6-1) have caused some NFL scouts to reconsider that preference. Murray is preparing for the NFL combine, which begins Feb. 26, rather than spring training (Oakland’s position players report Friday).
“Quarterback is a very demanding position, as is being a Major League baseball player,” Beane said. “To say somebody could or couldn’t, I’m not here to say that. Something like that is something that is part of our private discussions.”
Murray’s accountants will be busy sorting things out now that he has announced his decision. He already received $1.5 million of his signing bonus and was to receive an additional $3.16 million on March 1. Oakland is now due a refund of $1.29 million of the bonus, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, and Murray will forfeit the future $3.16 million payment. Oakland will also retain Murray’s MLB rights.
His NFL draft status remains unclear, but he is projected by many to be drafted in the first round. Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick last April, can expect to earn just under $33 million over his rookie contract with the Cleveland Browns, including a signing bonus of more than $22 million. Quarterback Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in April, will make about $30 million on his rookie deal; Josh Allen, the No. 7 pick, will make over $21 million on his rookie contract, according to Forbes. Murray will likely receive eight figures of guaranteed money if he is taken in the first round, so following his heart also makes financial sense.
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