Key questions as Murray weighs MLB, NFL

A's prospect, Heisman winner expected to declare for NFL Draft

January 14th, 2019

Kyler Murray is one of the biggest stories in two sports.
Murray was the Oakland Athletics' first-round Draft pick last year and is due to report to Spring Training with the team next month. But he's also a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who's now weighing a future in football.
Here's a quick primer on what we might -- and might not -- know about Murray's athletic future early this week.
What is Monday's significance?
The deadline for NCAA underclassmen to declare for the upcoming NFL Draft is midnight ET. Since Murray has one more season of football eligibility left at the University of Oklahoma, he'll need to file paperwork before the end of Monday in order to be drafted by an NFL team in April.
If Murray opts to file paperwork, does he lose his opportunity to play for the A's?
No. Murray is expected to declare for the NFL Draft on Monday, according to Jane Lee of, thus enabling him to gather additional information about his possible standing in the NFL. Doing so will not violate the terms of his contract with the Athletics, one source confirmed to on Monday. The practical deadline for Murray's final decision is closer to the start of Spring Training next month.
The NFL Scouting Combine begins roughly 10 days after Murray is expected to report to A's camp; his participation in that event -- for which he would need to leave Spring Training -- would almost certainly violate the guarantee language in his contract. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that the A's "were considering" whether to allow Murray to attend the Combine, although doing so "would require reconfiguring his contract."
In other words: Murray can keep his options open by declaring for the NFL Draft on Monday, but realistically, he'll need to make a final decision in the next four weeks. If he chooses football, he will need to return his $4.66 million signing bonus.

Could he possibly play both?
No. At least, not right now. Even some of Murray's representatives acknowledge the on- and off-field demands of playing quarterback in the NFL are not conducive to pursuing a second sport concurrently.
What options are available to the A's if they wish to woo him over to a baseball career?
It appears that the Commissioner's Office would allow the A's to sign Murray to a Major League contract, which at the very least affords him a higher salary in the Minors (in addition to the bonus money he would continue to receive).
While all drafted players sign Minor League contracts on entry under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the A's are permitted to give Murray a Major League deal now, as long as MLB officials conclude that there was no promise to do so during the negotiations that produced Murray's first pro baseball contract last summer.
Sources said Sunday that -- in their review so far -- MLB officials believe a new Major League deal was not discussed as an inducement for Murray to sign last summer. That bodes well for the A's ability to give Murray a new contract.
Which factors could contribute to Murray's decision?
If Murray is a first-round NFL Draft pick, he's almost certain to receive a contract with substantially more guaranteed money than his $4.66 million bonus with the A's. Several reports in recent weeks have suggested Murray would be a first-round pick, due in part to the NFL's openness toward shorter quarterbacks. (Murray is often listed as 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-10.)
In baseball, Murray would need to move out of the spotlight and develop in the Minor Leagues, likely for at least two seasons. However, the A's can sell Murray on the relative longevity of baseball careers and guaranteed contracts without a salary cap. MLB marketing executives also attended Sunday's meeting in Dallas, an indication that the Commissioner's Office is eager to help Murray capitalize on his unique backstory and notoriety.

How patient could the A's be with Murray's development as a baseball player?
If Murray signs a Major League contract as a condition of his commitment to baseball, he'll be able to remain in the Minors without having to pass through waivers until after the 2022 season. The A's likely view Murray as an everyday player for them by '21, when he will turn 24, if not before then.
Murray, who turns 22 in August, will need time to gain the baseball repetitions he's missed while playing football. He accumulated only 238 at-bats as a varsity player at Oklahoma, over which he posted a .261/.381/.466 slash line. Four players younger than Murray appeared in the Majors last year, including National League rookie stars and Juan Soto.