Many dream of being talented enough to play sports professionally. On average, 254 players are selected in the NFL draft and 900 players in the MLB draft. Kyler Murray will take up two of those spots this year.
After being drafted ninth overall in the 2018 MLB draft, Kyler Murray will be giving his $4.6 million signing bonus back to the Oakland Athletics after committing to playing in the NFL. Many NFL draft experts project Kyler Murray to be drafted in the first round with a majority believing he will be a top 15 pick. This could be the first time ever that a player is selected in the first round of the MLB and NFL draft.
No one can say Kyler Murray made the wrong decision. If he suddenly found a love for cricket and moved to Australia to play, then good for him. He followed his heart and decided to play football. However, we can discuss if this was the best financial decision.
First off, choosing football does not mean giving up baseball (i.e. Tim Tebow), however, choosing baseball definitely means giving up football. If football does not work out for Murray, he could always attempt a comeback in baseball.
Tim Tebow has been more successful than any scout thought he would be in his comeback. Murray is a significantly more talented baseball player so hypothetically his comeback would be smoother than Tebow’s.
Many people see Manny Machado’s new record-breaking deal and scratch their heads at Kyler’s decision. Baseball contracts are all completely guaranteed money and the league does not have a salary cap. However, on average players spend five years in the minors before making the major league roster. The league minimum contract is around $500,000, but Murray would make a little more than that.
There is also the possibility that he might not make it to the majors at all. Baseball is a challenging sport to scout. The former shortstop, Stephen Drew, was one of the best hitters in college baseball, but was a liability in the field. Once he made it to the majors, his hitting dropped off significantly and fielding became his strength. Baseball is unpredictable.
NFL contracts are significantly different than MLB contracts and tend to be a little more complicated. The first payment Kyler will receive will be a signing bonus. Last year Josh Rosen received a $10.8 million signing bonus as the tenth overall pick (similar projection for Murray).
Rosen went on to sign a four-year, $17.5 million contract which was all fully guaranteed. In just his rookie contract, Murray will make significantly more money than he would in his first five years of either minor league or major league baseball.
Quarterbacks are the most valued position in the NFL. When a team gets a good one, they tend to keep them around with big money contracts. Even when they have a mediocre one, they still get paid. Blake Bortles, quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, received a three-year $54 million extension ($26.5 million guaranteed) after below average play in his first few years of the NFL. Scouts project Murray to have a more successful career than Bortles which would lead to a larger contract.
Of course, the question of Murray’s longevity in the NFL raises red flags. He is an undersized quarterback who likes to leave the pocket, leaving him more vulnerable to big hits. Career ending injuries are not uncommon in the NFL. This is a chance Murray is and should be willing to take. Not only is his heart set on football, but his wallet is too.
Maybe next time Billy Beane will think twice about taking a two-sport athlete.