If Kyler Murray follows the money, it may lead him to the NFL

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Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray hasn’t ruled out playing in the NFL, despite having already signed to play baseball with the Oakland A’s. And if he wants to make the better financial decision, that may take him to the NFL.

J.J. Cooper, the Executive Editor for Baseball America who has also written about football, crunched the numbers and came to the conclusion that Murray would likely make more money playing in the NFL.

That’s because, although baseball players make more than football players on average, quarterbacks are the highest-paid players in football and can have careers that last into their late 30s or even their early 40s. A player like Jeff Samardzija, who was a good wide receiver at Notre Dame but quit football to pursue a career as a Major League pitcher, will make much more money in baseball. But a quarterback like Murray is different.

If Murray is a first-round pick, he’ll make anywhere from $10 million (if he goes at the end of the first round) to $35 million (if he goes first overall) on his four-year rookie contract. And if Murray develops into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, his second contract would be massive. Even if Murray doesn’t become a great quarterback, plenty of not-so-great quarterbacks make a lot of money in the NFL. Matt Cassel has made $60 million in his career; Mark Sanchez has made $74 million.

In baseball, Murray is guaranteed $4.6 million if he goes to the A’s, but beyond that he wouldn’t get a big payday for five or six years, and he wouldn’t hit free agency until he’s 29 or 30 years old.

Add it all up, and there’s a persuasive case to be made that Murray will make more money as an NFL quarterback than as an MLB outfielder.

46 responses to “If Kyler Murray follows the money, it may lead him to the NFL

  1. It would be a shame if he didn’t choose the NFL. Would be nice to finally have a QB come out of Oklahoma that would actually be good in the NFL.

  2. 5’9 is just too small too QB in the NFL, Russell Wilson is pushing it and he got 2.5 inches on this kid. He would be better for switching to RB or slot Wr

  3. What a one sided, short sighted article. Basically only highlighting the negatives in the baseball route and only the positives in the football route. What about the following:
    1. He will have far less health complications
    2. If he is good, he will play for much, much longer
    3. If he is good, he will make much, much more money (all of which is guaranteed)
    4. Baseball doesn’t have some power hungry commission looking for ways to take cash from its players
    5. Maybe he enjoys the game of baseball more.
    6. No one likes you or Florio, both nerd trolls

  4. “That’s because, although baseball players make more than football players on average, quarterbacks are the highest-paid players in football and can have careers that last into their late 30s or even their early 40s.”

    Only if he turns out to be a true franchise QB and doesn’t get a significant injury early on. Maybe 1 our of 50 QBs shows that level of success and longevity

  5. “Maybe” “If”…there is no such such thing as a “can’t miss” prospect in either baseball of football, but he at least has a clear path to stardom in baseball as a traditional CF.

    In football QB prospects are fickle enough as it is, and he’s obviously doesn’t fit the usual mold. It’s not so much height I worry about (although it will be interesting to see combine measurements…I seriously doubt he’s actually 5′ 11″…just look at him standing next to Baker Mayfield), but rather his body type. He’s so skinny and doesn’t have the frame to really add much more.

    I guess Russell Wilson is the obvious comparison but Wilson is stout. Aaron Donald or JJ Watt would break this guy in half.

  6. “5’11 195 lbs?”

    Once you account for the college WWE style measurements, he is realistically more likely to be like 5’9″ and 175 pounds. Not a chance he’d ever be a long term starting QB in the NFL.

  7. How much guaranteed money would he get at the end of the first round? If he suffers a career ending injury in his first practice I would assume the football contract would provide more money.

    He’d also have to spend at least a year living out of motels and traveling by bus in Double and Triple A before making it to The Show.

  8. “If Murray is a first-round pick, he’ll make anywhere from $10 million (if he goes at the end of the first round) to $35 million (if he goes first overall) as a rookie.”


    Those numbers are spread out over a 4 year contract.

  9. “I guess Russell Wilson is the obvious comparison but Wilson is stout. ”

    Wilson is 5’11” but he is an absolute tank at around 220. Murray has that slight frame, like Lamar Jackson but half a foot shorter.

  10. There’s still other factors to consider here. The kid is a 5’11”, read-option QB. Those QBs typically don’t last long in the league. He needs to seriously consider which sport he thinks he’d last longer.

  11. not sure I have ever read analysis that misses the point more than this does. When Murray is weighing his two options, I hope he and his people are smart enough to use average career compensation and not some pie in the sky estimate based on him becoming one of the best quarterbacks in football.

  12. I think Murray would also make far more money from endorsements if he was in the NFL and it would happen right away. In baseball, it would take years for him to make any money off the field and that assumes he becomes a VERY good major leaguer.

    I am sure Mike Trout and Mookie Betts have some endorsement deals, I just don’t recall seeing much if anything. Those players are hall of fame caliper. I am sure Aaron Judge does well off the field but he is in NY and is a home Run hitter. Murray would be on the A’s and no one goes to their games. Good Luck to Murray making money off the field and he first must make it to the majors.

  13. Jeff Samardzija is a great example of someone who took the right path, 5th rounder took a few years to get going but is doing very well.

    On the other hand Riley Cooper took the NFL route and well….

  14. John Elway had the baseball option as well. But, he was MUCH more “sized” for the NFL. If he is as good at baseball as this article leads us to believe (I don’t follow that sport whatever) then he should go that route. I do know they’re compensated better.

  15. “Even if Murray doesn’t become a great quarterback, plenty of not-so-great quarterbacks make a lot of money in the NFL. Matt Cassel has made $60 million in his career; Mark Sanchez has made $74 million.”

    Cassel and Sanchez are outliers.

    Sanchez was a high draft pick under an old rookie salary structure. He made about 85% of his career earnings in his rookie deal. That just doesn’t happen anymore, especially if you do not make it to your fifth year option.

    Cassel was a rare, right place at the right time. He was the backup to a great QB on a great team. Had one good year and turned that into a big payday.

  16. “kevines255 says:
    December 6, 2018 at 3:38 pm
    Why do all of you people assume he will play in the majors? What will that paycheck be in the minor leagues?”

    He was a top ten pick with a nice signing bonus.

  17. Kyler Murray has posted the best QBR in college football since Andrew Luck, he is setting all types of passing records and watch him on film he has a great arm and high level accuracy. Although shorter, his release point leaves no doubt that his throws are not going to get tipped at by defensive linemen and with today’s rules protecting QB’s, his chances of injury are as high as the biggest QB’s. I remember the debate about Goff and Wentz and how Wentz’ big frame would make him the better choice, well Wentz tore his ACL and there was nothing about his big frame that came to his rescue. Injuries to QB’s in the NFL are fluky. Hell the biggest guys like Andrew Luck and Big Ben have missed plenty of games due to injury. Its nothing you can predict. Justin Herbert has missed like 10 games in his 3 year career at Oregon and he is 6’6 230. Murray can throw the ball and if he declared, he would be a top 5 pick

  18. If he is a 1st round pick he might be guaranteed more to start his career in the NFL. If he succeeds in baseball he would make more but that is far from guaranteed. Baseball isn’t like football where a 1st round pick is guaranteed to see the pros and participate. In baseball it is far far more likely that the 1st round pick never hits makes the majors. Baseball procures their talent with the minor leagues where football expects you to play right away. I would pick baseball if I was him though.

  19. You mentioned several not so good QB’s that made a lot of money and didn’t mention the KING, Sam Bradford. Nobody in NFL history has made as much and did as little as that guy. Even butt fumble won some playoff games…

  20. Before the AFL-NFL merger, the AFL went out and signed Joe Namath to a huge contract. That move put the AFL on the map, and eventually forced the merger. There were other good players too that signed with the new league, but none bigger than Namath. I don’t see why the new football league can’t pull their resources and try to sign Murray. If they signed Murray and a couple more big name players like Tim Tebow, the TV networks would definitely pay attention, and pay a lot more money too. Hopefully Murray could still play baseball too.

  21. This article is “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.” Murray’s official measurements are 5’11” 195#. If he showed up at the Combine with those stats, he -might- be a first round pick. But others said it’s probably closer to 5’9″ 175#, which would drop him out of the first round and without a chance at a big payday for four years. Do the math.

  22. “And if Murray develops into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL…”

    Curious about this nugget – are you saying he’s going to or he might be able to? I’m asking for a friend…because there’s a huge difference between the 2 and I’m not sure if you’re aware but not every highly touted QB coming out of college becomes the best.

  23. What a ridiculous argument. The kid is too small to play QB, and if he does, he is highly unlikely to become the #1 guy.

    He’s a legit MLB prospect. Top ten draft pick. Already rated the fourth best prospect in the Oakland system. Even as a middling CFer, he could play 20 years and easily punch a multi million dollar a year contract as a reserve. Steve Pearce has played twelve years, and has less than 100 hrs, less than 300 RBIs, and is a .260 hitter. And he will make over $6 mill next year.

    Longer career, less risk of injury, far less risk of catastrophic injury, more likely to be successful … it’s not even close to being a decision.

  24. I don’t remember Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace or Russell Wilson being finalists for the Heismann. Oklahoma probably loses 4 or 5 games without him (watched every OU game). Oh yeah, he’s also the fastest guy on the field every week. If he has success against BAMA, he can play in the NFL.

  25. This is based entirely on the assumption that he’d be a first round pick. That’s very far from a safe bet. If he slides to the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round, he’d make far, far less money and could be out of the league in a couple years. The safe play would be the MLB route. Jeff Samardzija has made a ton of money there despite being a mediocre pitcher for most of his career.

  26. The top paid baseball players make more than the top paid QBs. The average baseball player makes more than the average NFL QB. The only realistic way to choose the NFL over MLB, for anyone who’s looking at it as money only, is if he’s a first round pick with loads of guaranteed money and he’s guaranteed to be a QB.

    Bottom line you gotta do what you enjoy doing more. The path to 100s of millions in either sport is fraught with more failures than successes. Coulda woulda shoulda. Pick what you want to be and be the best at it you can possibly be. That’s all that matters when deciding careers, professional sports or otherwise.

  27. Heck, a career backup QB can make 50 mil if he can hang around for 10 years. Sanchez has pocketed 75 mil and that’s crazy when you think about it…

  28. Not sure why 2 inches matters so much playing qb. If he’s got the arm and accuracy so be it. If he needs to be a step deeper in the pocket to help his vision, so be it. He can run. He can throw. If he can read defenses then 2 inches isn’t stopping him from being successful.

  29. Nobody is going to draft a QB his size in the 1st round. Nobody. And the money dropoff to the 2nd round is considerable.

  30. Given NFL is turning into flag football I don’t see why not. He is athletic enough and can throw the football.

  31. There is no way this guy plays into his late 30’s at any position in the NFL
    In baseball he can FAIL 70% of the time at the plate and make millions and possibly the Baseball HOF
    In Baseball he projects out as a really fast Center Field that can steal 30-45 bases a year and get you 12-18 HR a year and hit .270-.290 and his agent is Scott Boras….he will make millions and be able to enjoy the game and not be a broken down player in the NFL that has a 3-4 year playing average
    Fail 70% of the time in the NFL and you’re not in the NFL

    Baseball is a no brainer for him given his size

  32. Wouldn’t he have to also re-pay the MLB signing bonus check he has already cashed ($7.5 Mil)?

  33. See, the problem here is that the QBs who play “into their late 30s” are the really, really good ones with either little to no injuries to speak off or talent enough to offset the time and effort teams have to invest on their recovery. As for their early 40s, you have the QB that is widely recognized as the GOAT doing that right now. An outlier among outliers. You are banking his earning potential on him being drafted in the first round and not being significantly injured in his career in the most violent pro sport outside of combat ones. Two unlikely events, to say the least. And we haven’t even gone into the quality of life he’s risking by playing football.

    If he loves football more, fine. Do what you love and get paid handsomely for it. But if the decision is purely financial and he wants to actually be healthy enough to enjoy said finances, it’s baseball and it’s not close either.

  34. He can always play football later, should he want to. Big injuries are a great deal more common in football, the added wear and tear scenario may make playing baseball without the years needed in the minors a much more challenging scenario to cash in. If he is a guaranteed star in mlb, why would he take the risk and possibly end up in an organization that can not push his football talents to maximum. In other words, how did things work out for RG3?

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