With Kyler Murray declaring for the NFL draft, Tim Hasselbeck explains how size expectations for quarterbacks have changed in recent years. (1:22)
So Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has declared for the 2019 NFL draft. The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner will leave school a year early to join a league perpetually starving for young passers. Or maybe not…
Also a center fielder for Oklahoma’s baseball team, Murray already had a contract with the MLB’s Oakland Athletics, who paid him a $4.66 million signing bonus last June after making him the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft.
The first question was will he declare for the draft. But the answer only opened up a new bag of questions. How will it all play out?
Let’s run through the possibilities and answer the biggest questions remaining, with insight from ESPN MLB Insider Jeff Passan.
Maybe but not necessarily. On both counts.
Monday was the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2019 NFL draft. If Murray hadn’t registered by then, he would have had to wait until 2020 for another opportunity to play in the NFL. So in reality, this move allows him to extend his window for deciding what he will do in 2019. Declaring for the NFL draft merely means that he can’t return to college football, after a 72-hour window.
When: April 25-27
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
How to watch: ABC/ESPN/ESPN App
• Draft order: Picks 1-28 set »
• Tracking underclassmen declarations »
• McShay’s Mock Draft 1.0: Going 1-32 »
• Meet the 2019 quarterback class »
• Kiper & McShay: 2019 draft primer »
• Kiper’s Big Board » | McShay’s Top 32 »
• More NFL draft coverage »
Yes and yes. NFL fans might not be too familiar with Murray, who only started for one season at Oklahoma. But he is the kind of dual-threat player — 4,361 passing yards and 1,001 rushing yards — that NFL teams are more than willing to take on in this era. The NFL hasn’t had a starting quarterback as short as Murray since Doug Flutie retired in 2005, but height is one of only a few drawbacks on an otherwise exciting resume.
There is some evaluation left to do, be it at the NFL scouting combine or the Oklahoma pro day or in private workouts. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that he is being discussed as a likely first-round pick. As NFL teams integrate college schemes, “hybrid” quarterbacks become more attractive in the draft. And this 2019 quarterback class isn’t as strong as 2018, when four were drafted in the first 10 picks, and a total of five went in the first round overall.
In December, ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay pegged Murray as a first-round prospect, too.
Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray has announced he will enter the NFL draft, but the Sooners quarterback can still weigh his baseball options.
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Both. The 2018 college football season was a life-changer for Murray, who figured he would be reporting in February to A’s spring training. He now has an opportunity to earn more money and quicker than if he stayed with baseball. The A’s have committed $4.66 million to him, but every first-round pick in the 2019 draft will at least double that total.
First-round picks in the NFL draft get fully guaranteed four-year contracts. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, fellow former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, received $32.7 million guaranteed. The No. 32 pick, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, was guaranteed $8.1 million. Those slots will increase along with the still-to-be-determined rise in the 2019 salary cap.
Yes. According to Passan, Major League Baseball has given the A’s permission to offer him a major-league contract by putting him on their major-league roster.
No. If he accepted that offer, he would still start in the minor leagues — sources told ESPN most likely at High-A Stockton. But he would count toward the A’s 40-man major-league roster limit. Murray would have four options, meaning he would need to join the A’s full time at the latest by the 2022 season, though Oakland intends to aggressively promote Murray.
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According to Passan, there is language in Murray’s contract for the A’s to recoup the bonus should he pursue a professional football career. The draft pick would be forfeited — typically teams get a pick the next season when their first-round choice doesn’t sign — but the A’s would retain Murray’s rights. He would be placed on the restricted list. If he left football to play baseball, he would enter the A’s system on a minor league contract. Unless, of course, he negotiated a major league deal, which could add millions to a Murray proposal.
Quarterback is the one position that can compete with most baseball players. More than half of active quarterbacks have earned at least $10 million in their careers, compared to 28 percent of outfielders, according to Spotrac. It works out that way on the high end, too. About 11 percent of NFL quarterbacks have made at least $100 million, compared to five percent of outfielders.
Murray could announce a final decision at any time, pending negotiations with the A’s. But the first flash point would seem to be Feb. 15, when the A’s open spring training. If he is serious about pursuing football in 2019, it wouldn’t make sense to spend his pre-draft training on a baseball field.
Probably. It’s scheduled to start on Feb. 26. That’s six weeks from Tuesday.
Opening Day is April 4 for all minor league full-season affiliates. And just a few weeks later, the NFL draft takes place in Nashville, Tenn. on April 25-27.
Almost certainly not. The standard NFL contract prohibits players from participating “in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.” After playing minor league baseball while he was in college, Wilson has visited major league spring training as an NFL quarterback, worked out with other players and sat in the dugout during games. He did receive one at-bat during an exhibition game, which the Seattle Seahawks agreed to beforehand.
Sure, if he can leverage his talent enough to convince both teams to waive their concerns. If an NFL team used a lower-round draft pick to secure Murray’s rights — even after he reported to A’s camp and then to the minor leagues — they could conceivably add him to their roster once the baseball season was complete. Murray would be placed on that NFL team’s reserve/did not report list at the start of training camp. Then he could be activated at any point until Week 13 of the regular season.