Kyler Murray commits to becoming NFL QB

A's reportedly not giving up on convincing QB to come back to baseball

February 11th, 2019

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's won't be seeing Kyler Murray in camp on Friday, or anytime soon for that matter.
Murray has opted to forgo a future with the A's in favor of one with the NFL, voicing his decision to pursue a career as a quarterback in a tweet Monday morning -- less than two hours after A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane suggested he remained in negotiations with his 2018 first-round Draft pick and deemed the situation "fluid."
General manager David Forst, speaking on behalf of the organization shortly after Murray's decision surfaced, diverted questions about when he was made aware of it, only acknowledging he wasn't surprised by the announcement.
"We've known all along this was a possibility," Forst said. "We've been in constant contact. We knew he had a great option in the NFL. So we've known for a while that there was a chance this could happen."

Murray, who declared for the NFL draft last month following his Heisman-winning campaign with Oklahoma, professed his commitment to football through this statement on Twitter, with no mention of the A's:
"Moving forward, I am firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback. Football has been my love and passion my entire life. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100% of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships. I have started an extensive training program to further prepare myself for upcoming NFL workouts and interviews. I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft."

The 21-year-old will be placed on MLB's restricted list, return $1.29 million of the $1.5 million signing bonus he received from the A's last year and forfeit the remaining $3.16 million due March 1, per ESPN. They won't receive a compensation pick in this June's Draft, only retaining his baseball rights in the event he decides to return to center field at a future time.
A source told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that Oakland never had an issue with Murray declaring for the NFL Draft and taking part in the Draft Combine in order to better gauge the interest in him as a football player.
Murray's former Oklahoma University teammate Baker Mayfield, a fellow Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, signed a $32.7 million contact after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Browns last year. While it is unlikely that Murray, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and is undersized by NFL quarterback standards, would be selected at the top of the NFL Draft, he could go in the upper half of the first round.
Rosenthal mentioned Cardinals QB Josh Rosen, who signed a $17.6 million deal after being selected 10th overall, as a potential comparable for Murray, and noted that Oakland has the potential to surpass any deal Murray is offered, regardless of where he is drafted.
"This was about Kyler," Forst said. "This wasn't about what it meant for the A's. We picked him because we thought he was going to be an incredible baseball player. That may still happen someday."
Though this was the likeliest outcome, considering Murray's blossoming football stardom, the timing of his decision was unexpected. Just minutes before, manager Bob Melvin remained "cautiously optimistic" Murray would fulfill his commitment to the A's, who had a locker with Murray's name on it and a No. 73 jersey ready for him.
"The guy was a Heisman Trophy winner," Melvin said later. "You do all you can, and obviously we drafted him for a reason. But it's not a shock to me. We still have the rights to him, but it looks like he's going to have a nice little football career and we are going to be rooting for him."

The A's were believed to be exploring different ways to keep Murray in the fold, including restructuring his contract to allow him to attend the NFL combine before returning to camp. They also reportedly toyed with the idea of adding him to the 40-man roster and subsequently offering him more money. Forst on Monday made it clear that these were internal ideas only; Murray and his family never requested anything more from the A's, who originally granted him permission to play one more season at Oklahoma as part of his Draft agreement.
Playing both sports, it seemed, wasn't ever going to be an option.
"We've known from the tone of the conversations that he could choose the NFL," Forst said. "So we'll focus on what we need to do to make sure if he comes back to baseball at some point that he'll come back to the A's.
"We took the best athlete on the board and what we thought was the best baseball player on the board, too. We don't regret the pick at all."