Kyler Murray has declared for the NFL Draft, in an effort to leverage himself into the best possible situation- and he should. He’s in demand…a hot commodity. He won the freakin’ Heisman 6 months after being the 9th pick in the MLB draft…that’s shit you couldn’t make up in your backyard as an 11 year old. But, for all the leverage, he’s really not a guarantee in either sport.
Football-wise, he showed tremendous skill and toughness, he checks a lot of the boxes. But, he’s 5’9″ and as a “two-way” threat, he’s even more in harm’s way. Some are saying he’s a first-round prospect, and let’s assume he is. Because if he’s not going in the 1st…stop right here, and just go play baseball.
As a baseball prospect, he’s a question mark because as a two-sport player, he didn’t work on baseball as much as those who are able to dedicate themselves year round. On top of that, he really only had one quality season on the diamond at Oklahoma.
Now, what’s going on with the A’s?
As the 9th pick, he signed a 4.6M bonus, on a standard Minor League deal. He was supposed to report to the A’s following one more football season at Oklahoma and that was it. Now, it seems as though he’s angling for a Major League contract from the A’s, for what’s been reported (and then refuted) as $15M, or else he’ll return his bonus and go play football.
The Major League contract really just means he has to be added to the 40-man roster, which usually isn’t required until after 3 years in the system. He will still start in the minors, but it will significantly speed up the clock to Free Agency. He would need to be called up by 2022, or he can become a Free Agent. This will shave a few years off the time frame for Murray to ride busses around the minors making 30 grand waiting to see if he makes it, or washes out…oh, and he gets a lot more money to do it.
If he does make it, he’ll still have to play 3 years at MLB minimums before he makes any real salary through arbitration, and then 3 more years for Free Agency. That’s probably 5-6 years (between minors and pre-Arbitration) where his salary- if all goes well- tops out at 750K.
What are the odds that he even makes it in the Majors?
According to a recent analysis of MLB Drafts by SABR (Society for American Baseball Research)….
67% of first round picks make it to MLB, and 77% of college position players. This is probably better odds than you thought, but still, you don’t make any money just making it to MLB. What about actually lasting?
Well, only 48% of 1st Round Picks accrued 3+ years of MLB service time. For College Position Players, like Murray, this 3 year number is actually 60%, which bodes well for him, but like we said, he doesn’t necessarily have the experience most college players do.
If he does make it past 3 years, years 3-6 should yield him at least $10-20M if he’s even average, and if he’s good…well, Mookie Betts just got $20M for one season, in his 2nd arbitration year. This is the pot of cash at the end of the rainbow, that a career in the NFL likely won’t match.
What happens if he chooses Football?
Well, let’s say he lands somewhere in the back half of the first round, k? Pat Mahomes and Josh Rosen each went 10th and got 16-17M in guaranteed money, and Lamar Jackson went 32nd this year and got 8M. So, Murray would fall in that range. The key variable is, what does he do over the next 4 years…this will determine if he spends the next years bouncing around like RGIII, making $2M as a backup, or if he cashes in for ~60M guaranteed on his second deal, like Russell Wilson and many others.
If he’s betting on himself being able to defy the odds as the shortest starting QB since Doug Flutie, and become a marketable starting signal-caller, then, the NFL is the path of least resistance. Capable starting QB’s make bank…it’s a fact. And in the meantime, he flying on chartered jets and on TV every Sunday…rather than tooling around Arizona on a bus.
Those are the facts…now you know. If he gets the 15M from the A’s, it’s basically 4-6 years where that’s the only money he makes, then it depends on his success. If he signs with an NFL team, it’s $8-15M for 4 years, then it comes down to contract #2.
How would you choose? If it’s me, and I can get the MLB deal and 15M, I’m going to baseball. Then, if after 2 years or so, I’m not advancing like the team and I want, I negotiate some kind of buy out, and test the waters in the NFL. The team would be happy to get some $ and their 40-man spot back, and as has been proven time and time again, it’s much harder to go back to baseball after extended time away, than it is to football. Plus, in 2 years, the “college schemes” that are becoming the NFL trend may have fully caught on and there could be a huge market for the former Heisman winner.
Before you ask…he can’t play both. Standard contracts in both leagues block that possibility, and for a variety of reasons, neither side would be likely to remove those clauses.