It looked like we were heading for an old two dates to the prom type situation with Heisman Trophy winner and first round MLB draft pick of the Oakland A’s Kyler Murray and his lack of a definitive public decision on his future. The former Sooner Quarterback has officially announced he will be choosing the NFL as his true one and only. While monogamy may not be for everyone, it was a choice he inevitably had to make and Kyler has finally decided to make an honest woman out of football. In doing so, he will forgo the $4.66 million contract from the A’s, including $1.29 million of the $1.5 million signing bonus he received.
There are surely a number of reasons why he made this choice. Maybe he really does have a passion for football that outweighs his love for the diamond. Maybe his desire to lead men on the gridiron outweighs his affection for riding the bus all summer for the Lake Monsters. Maybe he just likes the way he looks in pads. I don’t know. Does any of that really even matter? If you look at this from a strictly financial perspective, things become a bit clearer. Walking away from that kind of money is a bold move for sure. I mean turning your back on that kind of money as a 21-year-old may seem foolish, irresponsible or downright ludicrous, but the money a first round NFL draft pick can make in their rookie deal alone would dwarf that figure. Even the final first round pick (32) in the 2018 draft, Lamar Jackson, signed a $9.5 million 4-year deal with a $5 million signing bonus and Murray is projected to go much earlier, especially now that he has made his football playing priorities clear.
The contract is only one financial factor in play. The potential marketing and endorsement opportunities are also important multipliers to consider. Just look at the best player in baseball, Mike Trout. His biggest endorsement is what? Body Armor? Nothing against the sports drink of the future, but considering Trout is arguably one of the greatest to ever play the game and I couldn’t pick him out of a half empty Manhattan Bro J’s on a Tuesday afternoon doesn’t exactly bode well for the marketing wing of Major League Baseball. Football is the most popular sport in the country and Kyler plays the most important and lucrative position for said sport. Fiscally speaking, it’s a no brainer.
There is also the playing time aspect. As a first round NFL draft pick, and new face of a franchise, Murray would seemingly be primed to take over the titular role in a years’ time at most. Juxtapose this to his early days in baseball where he would spend years playing the likes of the Akron Zips, Binghamton Rumble Ponies and Cedar Rapids Kernels, all the while traversing the countryside in all the luxury of a Greyhound. Even if he is selected by perennial losers like Jacksonville, Washington or Miami, the locale alone is worth a little extra head trauma. Sure, football is a much more dangerous sport and the threat of serious injury and brain damage is certainly not lost on Mr. Murray, but the way the league is trending, by year 3 of his rookie deal, just looking a quarterback in the eye will garner a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty.
With his declaration finally public, it will be interesting to see where he lands at the end of April. He’s a bit undersized and somewhat inexperienced, but the dude can sling it. Baseball’s loss is football’s gain and here’s to hoping he’s more Drew Brees and less Drew Pomeranz. Sorry Oakland but, thank you, next.