Story by Brayden Conover, Sports Editor
Photo by Caitlyn Epps, OU Daily
Kyler Murray has the opportunity to do something no athlete has ever done. On Jan. 14, Murray declared for the NFL Draft. The unique aspect of this Murray has already been drafted in the 2018 MLB Draft. Murray was taken ninth overall by the Oakland A’s on June 4, 2018. Eleven days later, Murray signed with the team, giving him a $4.7 million signing bonus. In August, Murray was named starting quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners. In December, Murray won OU’s seventh Heisman trophy and led the Sooners to the College Football Playoff.
Murray has had an absurd year. The media set ablaze with hot takes as to which sport Murray would pick. Baseball has less health risks, but less money. The NFL is far more lucrative as a quarterback but the health risks of a 5’10”, 195-pound quarterback are worth considering a career in baseball. Murray was only drafted in the first round by the A’s to entice him into not playing football. The $4.7 million bonus wasn’t enough to step Murray away from the game he loves. His Heisman trophy season was just for fun. Baseball was supposed to be Kyler’s fast track to stardom, not football. Murray will forfeit the $4.7 million back to the A’s if he does get drafted and signs with a NFL team. However, the A’s will retain his player r i g h t s if Murray dec i d e s to go back to baseball at any point.
“I think the safer move for Kyler is to play baseball,” William Soulé, host of the Did Not Play podcast said in an interview. “But someone that has as much confidence as he does, doesn’t care about smart or safe.”
If Murray is taken anywhere in the first round of the NFL Draft in April, he is looking at anywhere between $22 million and $5 million based off of last year’s draft. The 33 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Austin Corbett made $4.02 million with his signing bonus alone. Corbett made $480,000 his rookie season and will gradually make more throughout his rookie contract. The base salary of Corbett’s rookie contract is $3,970,470. Over four years, Corbett will make nearly $8 million as a second r o u n d d r a f t pick. Kyle Bulman, a sports management major at OU, says that Murray should go to the NFL if he knows he’ll be a first rounder. “He’ll be able to make close to the same amount in the MLB but he has no guarantee of making it to the bigs to secure an NFL type contract.”
To match $8 million in baseball Murray would have to go through arbitration once he cracked the major leagues. Scouts from across the MLB have said he’s two years away from making it to The Show. Once he makes it to the Majors he will have six or seven seasons on his contract of team control. This means the only way he can leave the team is if he is traded or sent down to the minor leagues. The first three or four years are pre-arbitration years. Murray would make near league minimum which is $555,000 for 2019. After those three or four years are over, Murray’s contract will be eligible for arbitration. Usually a last resort, arbitration is when an impartial third party will come in and play judge between the team and the player. Whatever the third party thinks is fair, goes. Normally, teams and players avoid arbitration by working out a contract negotiation prior to the arbitration period. After six or seven seasons, Murray would be a free agent and can sign with any team that wants him, including his original team. Unrestricted free agents usually sign with the highest bidding team to ensure they are being paid the most for their services.
Whether Kyler Murray choses football or baseball, it is easy to see that he is a generational talent and controls what future two-sport athletes have control of moving forward.