Kyler Murray has leverage, and he should use it

Getty Images

The draft consists of 32 supposedly independent businesses systematically calling dibs on a broad crop of incoming employees. At some point, the NFL managed to convince these incoming employees that being involuntarily sorted and shipped to cities and states far from where they’d prefer to live and work is an honor and a privilege.

It’s not. It’s fundamentally un-American, stripping from individuals the fundamental freedom to choose where and for whom they’ll work. But the incoming employees go along because, frankly, they have no choice and little if any leverage.

Every once in a while, one of the incoming employees has leverage, and he chooses to uses it. It happens rarely, with the list currently consisting to date of two men: (1) John Elway; and (2) Eli Manning. This year, a third name possibly can be added to the list. 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray.

With a plug-and-play baseball career at the ready, and a $4.66 million signing bonus already earned, Murray can become one of the few to tell the NFL the circumstances under which he’ll willingly become an employee of a professional football team. He can say, plainly and clearly, that if he’s not drafted by a certain team (or teams) and/or if he’s not selected at a certain level, he’s not signing a football contract and playing baseball instead.

That would be an aggressive move by Murray, a far cry from the currently prevailing notion (within league circles) that he’ll need to fully and completely submit to football in order to be drafted as high as possible. He can instead make a conditional commitment to football, hiring a trusted agent who can tell each team before the draft starts “yes” or “no” as to whether a decision to select him will get Murray to play.

This could scare off the teams that hear “no,” or it could cause them to squat on Murray and trade him to one of the teams to which he says “yes.” Regardless, keeping one foot in baseball could give Murray the ability to turn the draft process on its head, picking his next destination in the same way he picked a college football program.

Most incoming NFL players don’t even think about pulling a power play like this because they lack the leverage to make it stick. Murray, by ensuring that baseball will still be there if he doesn’t like what he hears on draft night, can send a clear message to the NFL.

“I’ll play on my terms, not on yours.”

Here’s hoping he does it. Players having real power over Big Shield are way too few and far between. Murray is the next one to have that power, and he should be advised above all else to use it to the fullest.

76 responses to “Kyler Murray has leverage, and he should use it

  1. Amen. It’s amazing how many people think professional athletics is a privilege and not something that’s been built towards through hard work and sacrifice for years and years.

  2. You can paint it as some kind of communist forced labor all you want, but most fans don’t live in the handful of huge markets that would dominate every year without revenue sharing, salary cap and amateur draft, and we consider an even playing-field to be a VERY American ideal.

    Also, I very much look forward to the end of hearing talk about a diminutive midget who *might, maybe* play pro football.

  3. You’re making an assumption that he is that good of a player. His performance at the end of the season doesn’t reflect that. Just another Heisman wash out.

  4. This advice would assure that no team wastes a draft pick on him.

    A 5 foot 9 inch QB who maybe weighs 170, (when he is wet and wearing boots), dictating to the NFL exactly where he will play, is almost comical.

  5. It is also fundamentally un-American to sign a contract and accept money for your services, the, welsh out on the deal. Will he also sign a contract with an NFL team, then, welsh out on it after he gets paid and go play baseball? His ethical standards are certainly something to consider before drafting him, IMO

  6. I hope he sticks it to the nfl so well that he goes undrafted. This kid isn’t elway or mannning.

    “I’m a 5’9″ qb and not signing for less than 20m guaranteed!”
    Nfl reply:
    Then we get to read about collusion claims i guess.

  7. “It’s fundamentally un-American, stripping from individuals the fundamental freedom to choose where and for whom they’ll work.”

    I guess the US Military is un-American then…

    Actually, they do have a choice. They are all college-educated. Most have degrees. They can join us working stiffs putting in 60-70 hours a week for peanuts.

  8. Once again I totally disagree with Mike. Big surprise. LOL. Hey kid, you signed a baseball contract, thereby saying you would live up to that signed document. HONOR IT. Besides, you will get squashed if you go to the N.F.L., stick with baseball, make lots of money, and have a happy life.

  9. >>He can say, plainly and clearly, that if he’s not drafted by a certain team (or teams) and/or if he’s not selected at a certain level, he’s not signing a football contract and playing baseball instead.

    If I was running a company and had policies in place and a potential employee wanted an exception I would not grant it. That would create far more headaches down the road.

  10. I can’t really speak to his NFL potential, but the fact remains, the QB position is the most important position on the field. Finding a franchise QB is tantamount to getting to a Super Bowl. I have no doubt there are more than a few GMs willing to take the risk on him.

    The draft process may not be fair to the players, but it is for the fans and the ultimate success of the league. It’s a key reason the NFL remains the country’s most popular sport – even with the sub-standard ratings this season.

  11. He’s being told he has leverage, but he really doesn’t. He tried to leverage himself more money out of the A’s while threatening to declare for the NFL draft. Now he’s done so and the A’s didn’t cave. Unless he’s going to officially state he’s giving up baseball and getting drafted in the top half of round 1 he’s probably gonna have to hope he makes it to his his second contract because the big upfront money isn’t going to be there as a second round or later pick. So his options will be:

    1. Hope he makes it in the NFL so he can cash in big on his second and third contract
    2. Go back to the A’s and play under the current signing bonus and offer he currently has.

  12. Wasn’t he the best football player in his state in High School? We know he won the Heisman in college. No one is saying he’s a sure bet in baseball. He could possibly go to the minor leagues only never to be heard from again. We know the arguments about football injuries vs. longevity in baseball. If he was a pitcher, his baseball path would be a lot clearer. He’s a position player. He’s going to have to hit really well or be a defensive wiz. In football, even if he bottoms out like, say, a Mark Sanchez or RGIII, he can still salvage career as a backup.

  13. It happens rarely, with the list currently consisting to date of two men: (1) John Elway; and (2) Eli Manning. This year, a third name possibly can be added to the list. 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    So, you are just ignoring Bo Jackson’s demand that the Bucs not draft him because he believed they intentionally sabotaged his NCAA baseball career/eligibility?

    Why do you make a living reporting on a league that you obviously cannot stand? This stand up against the man stuff speaks volumes, Mike, and what it says is not very good.

  14. Great opening line. But you neglect to mention that baseball has the same setup, 32 “independently owned” businesses telling sending players anywhere.

    No matter how much leverage Murray or any other player gets, the bottom line is this: There are 64 “independently owned” teams that can send players wherever they want – even to another sport. Who’s to say the NFL says “No thanks” and the A’s, in return, say, “Well, we made you an offer but you didn’t like it. Best of luck to you.”

    And just like that, there goes Mr. Murray’s leverage.

    The saving grace in all this is that humans do really poor working well in a group, so some team from some league will swoop in and pay him, no doubt.

  15. No player in college should be able to dictate anything to the NFL. Neither Manning nor Elway should have been able to work the system the way they did. Any of them could have or will be a bust in the NFL. If any player coming out of college even intimates that they won’t play for a certain team if drafted by said team, they should be banned from the NFL for two years minimum. You can’t have the inmates running the asylum. If you don’t like the NFL setup, take your little degree in Sports Broadcasting and go get a real job for 50 grand and pass up the millions you would make on an NFL team.

  16. Kyler has negative leverage. Every NFL team and GM knows Kyler will use the threat of baseball at every contract negotiation. Who wants to use a draft pick on a guy that will always threaten to play baseball. He is too small to play QB in the NFL. Cant wait to see Aaron Donald or Fletcher Cox drive him into the ground.

  17. He could “leverage” himself into falling into the second round or worse, thereby guaranteeing him a lousy paying contract and end up getting nothing he wanted from either side, right?

  18. “At some point, the NFL managed to convince these incoming employees that being involuntarily sorted and shipped to cities and states far from where they’d prefer to live and work is an honor and a privilege.”

    Not exactly. The NFL convinced existing players to limit the options and salary of incoming players as part of the union contract. Is it any surprise that existing players chose to agree to a salary schedule for draft picks in exchange for more money in their own pocket. These are the incentives of any union contract.

  19. He has leverage until he gets injured. Get a career ending injury in the NFL, and any chance of having a baseball career might be gone as well.

  20. That’s exactly why he won’t get drafted high, if at all. No GM is going to put their career on the line for someone who could just up and walk away to baseball if they don’t get their way. I suppose someone like Jerry Jones could draft him because he doesn’t have to worry about being fired.

  21. The way it’s explained above, no one will draft Murray. Teams want a player who is committed to play in the NFL. What if the teams that feel they need his services are teams where he would refuse to play and teams where he wants to land don’t see him as a 1st round talent? He will play baseball instead? He is just asking to be ignored on draft day if he goes the route described in the article. He is not Elway or Manning. Those two were prototypical quarterbacks. Murray is not.

  22. I mean can’t he just enter the draft this year, not sign with anyone if drafted and be a free-agent next year? In the meantime, he can play baseball for a year and then try and negotiate a big NFL contract next year as a free agent.

  23. dartmouthstevens says:
    January 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm
    If he were wise, he’d go to baseball regardless. Longer career, less injuries, and better fit given his size.
    ————
    He has no guarantee on future money in baseball.
    It’s not automatic at all.

    Which is why he is leveraging his NFL draft potential.

  24. The Chargers had all the leverage and they actually took advantage of it. The Eli for Rivers deal was in place before the draft even happened. Too bad the idiot raiders at 2 or the cards at 3 didnt snag Rivers.

    THEN the Giants could have drafted big ben, who I had wanted all along, and instead of us having 4 superbowls in team history we’d likely have 5 or 6.

  25. Kyler Murray> I will not play for teams X, Y, Z

    Other teams> Well in that case, since those teams won’t get you I suppose I could burn a 3rd or 2nd round pick on you. It’s not like you are a highly sought after prospect. The only ones who want you are the teams lacking QBs, and they tend to have bad records. By rejecting those teams, we don’t have competition and don’t need to blow a 1st round pick.

    Teams A,B and C> Yawn

  26. He could say he will only sign with the Pats, Saints, or Steelers and that he will sign, but not report until baseball season is over if at all until their current qb retires. Then he can sign, but not report, so they hold his rights, and maybe his contract does not toll. Thats gives him a couple years to try baseball, and if it fails he comes out as heir apparent to a HOF QB on a superbowl franchise.

  27. “It’s not. It’s fundamentally un-American, stripping from individuals the fundamental freedom to choose where and for whom they’ll work.”
    =============================

    Kyler Murray can always say “no” and not sign the rookie NFL contract. No one’s putting a gun to his head and forcing him to do anything.

    However, all NFL teams agreed within themselves as a league not to interfere with another team’s drafted player. Good luck trying to “choose” which NFL team he wants to play for, because they won’t be returning his call.

    Of course, he can always choose another city and work at McDonald’s. The NFL doesn’t care if he “chooses” to work for another business.

  28. “aj66shanghai says:
    January 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm
    You can paint it as some kind of communist forced labor all you want, but most fans don’t live in the handful of huge markets that would dominate every year without revenue sharing, salary cap and amateur draft, and we consider an even playing-field to be a VERY American ideal.”

    ————-

    Actually, the ideal of an even playing field is a human one – not a cutural. Because culturally in America, the whole notion of having an even playing field to success is one of the biggest pump-fake to ever. Look around, there’s nothing even about how America is ran, especially when it comes to working & success. It’s very one-sided and academic papers have backed that up.

    So that “midget” shouldn’t listen to the fairy tales from people like you and utilize the actual leverage that he has.

  29. “He can say, plainly and clearly, that if he’s not drafted by a certain team (or teams) and/or if he’s not selected at a certain level, he’s not signing a football contract and playing baseball instead.”
    ==========================

    Right, because teams LOVES uncommitted football players…

    As I said yesterday, unless Murray comes out as says he’s giving up all baseball aspirations, no GM will risk a high draft pick on a player that might not even show up for OTAs and training camp.

    So sure, Murray has “leverage.” Unfortunately, teams are using it to discount his true value if he doesn’t commit.

  30. aj66shanghai says:
    January 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm
    You can paint it as some kind of communist forced labor all you want, but most fans don’t live in the handful of huge markets that would dominate every year without revenue sharing, salary cap and amateur draft, and we consider an even playing-field to be a VERY American ideal.
    =====
    So your basic argument is that a powerful entity artificially stifling the free market and forcibly redistributing income is the “American Ideal”.

    Gotcha, comrade.

  31. He’s just playing the two leagues against each other to get the max contract he can from MLB. Clearly has a good agent and this is smart business.

    If an NFL GM is stupid enough to throw away a draft pick to help him Murray secure a fat MLB contract, that’s on the GM.

  32. I don’t know why I am always surprised to read the comments section for these types of posts and see how willing the average fan is to crap all over the rights of athletes just because they make more money than you do.

  33. realitypolice says: “So your basic argument is that a powerful entity artificially stifling the free market and forcibly redistributing income is the “American Ideal”.”
    ========================

    The NFL is NOT a “free market” – it’s just one business with 32 locations. However, no one is stopping you from starting your own pro football league and running it however you see fit.

    Each NFL owner has decided as a group that revenue sharing was the best financial model for the success of its single business. No one is forcing them anything. They agreed to it.

  34. He has a little leverage against the A’s. That leverage will disappear if he falls outside the chance at a 5 million+ signing bonus (needs to pay back the A’s and I am guessing a good % of the money is spent). Which I do not see how a NFL team drafts him in the first 2 rounds without a contract in hand. Those picks are way too valuable to waste on the hope that he decides football over baseball. A GM who loses out on a top draft pick because he can not sign the guy probably deserves to be fired.

    It would be one thing if he was a obvious #1 pick. Then he could start negotiating with the cards or someone moving up to take the #1 pick but that probably is not the case. So without the ability to sign on the dotted line to play football, with Boras advising him (Would walk away from a verbal agreement in a heartbeat) he is looking like a mid round pick who will eat up the teams draft budget and upset the teams earlier picks.

  35. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he declared for the draft. If he wants to go to a certain team, don’t declare for the draft and try to get a job with them as a walk-on. Nobody is forcing these players to go into the draft. Then again the draft is where the money is.

  36. akira1971 says:
    January 15, 2019 at 5:08 pm
    realitypolice says: “So your basic argument is that a powerful entity artificially stifling the free market and forcibly redistributing income is the “American Ideal”.”
    ========================

    The NFL is NOT a “free market” – it’s just one business with 32 locations. However, no one is stopping you from starting your own pro football league and running it however you see fit.

    Each NFL owner has decided as a group that revenue sharing was the best financial model for the success of its single business. No one is forcing them anything. They agreed to it.
    ==========

    You missed my point. The original commenter described using drafts, salary caps and revenue sharing to create a level playing field as an “american ideal”. That’s where I took exception.

    I understand the NFL is a business. I would never compare it to a market or government. HE did that, and I responded.

  37. There is a BIG difference between playing College Football & winning the Heisman Trophy to playing in the National Football League.
    See Tebow
    See Wuerffel
    See Ware
    and on and on……See Couch, See Crouch, See Weinke & Torretta……………..See Murray

  38. I think Florio writes these articles under the assumption lawyers make good negotiators. Kid would limit his market dramatically and therefore have less negotiating power. Would love to see him give back his mlb bonus and get less from the nfl. There’s a reason why you write about the news and don’t make it bud.

  39. Too many people in current times only look at how things affect themselves. The NFL wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for special employment rules that allow them to build an identity and relationship with the fans and create a competitive environment. Maybe they should take a few minutes and think about all the people who could never afford a college education or who work like a dog for 45 years so they can retire in poverty. Sure there is a risk of injury but what do you think happens to your body from decades of hard labor or when you put your life on the line? If Murray doesn’t like the rules of pro sports he is free to come join the rest of us.

  40. Then the teams considering drafting him should tell him to go play baseball. Not interested in a midget that thinks he’s entitled to whatever he wants.

  41. Completely disagree. If you don’t like it, don’t play football. The draft process 1) is a crap shoot but 2) is designed to create at least a little parity. If incoming rookies could pick where they wanted to play, then 80% of the product on the field would be garbage, people wouldn’t buy tickets or watch the game, buy jerseys, etc. Which in turn hurts the business of the NFL, etc. etc.

    As an employee of a multinational conglomerate, I would love to live in Hong Kong, or Sydney, or Buenos Aires. BUT THEY AREN’T ASKING ME. Nor should they.

    I’m not saying the people systems of sports is the poster child for how to manage human capital – it isn’t. But the same way I can’t demand to work and live where I want, they can’t. Their only choice, like mine, is not to play at all. That isn’t un-American. It is called free enterprise.

  42. THE DRAFT, which you are apparently against, protects fans from 2-3 big money teams winning everything. It spreads the wealth of athletes to small markets. But you would like to end that.

  43. Heres your leverage…A’s sue him for breach of contract, 2nd round washout from nfl where bonus pays off the breach of contract, no college degree….do you want fries with that? Or..welcome to wal mart?

  44. You’re making an assumption that he is that good of a player. His performance at the end of the season doesn’t reflect that. Just another Heisman wash out.

    ———————————————————————————————-

    Over 400 combined yards and 3 TDs vs Alabama. Uhhhhh, what?

  45. objectivefbfan says:
    January 15, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    As an employee of a multinational conglomerate, I would love to live in Hong Kong, or Sydney, or Buenos Aires. BUT THEY AREN’T ASKING ME. Nor should they.
    ===

    Your analogy is erroneous. If you wanted to live in another country, you could find a company in that country that does the same thing your company does, and you could try to get a job there doing exactly what you do now.

    Football players have no options. If they want to work for a different company, they literally have to change professions.

  46. Why are people getting so wigged out over this? He is a 22 year kid torn over two attractive job prospects. He has every right in the world to take the job that pays the most money. He has every right in the world to make the “wrong” career decision. But this isn’t a morality test or a question about his character. And believe me, both the National Football League and Major League Baseball will survive his decision.

  47. Jeez, Florio. You make it seem really awful to make hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars a year making a living. I’d hate to be able to retire for the rest of my life after a handful of years at a job. People with time-demanding and/or dangerous jobs choose before going into those jobs if the compensation is worth it. As many have already mentioned, most of these athletes received a college degree of some sort while also playing a sport they enjoy. If they decide that having to move away and possibly play for a team that hasn’t been successful isn’t worth the money, they can join the working class folk. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would rather be playing a sport for a living instead of doing what they do. Some even may have made similar sacrifices to make an obnoxiously lower amount of money to do so. These players are physically gifted athletes and have an opportunity the majority of people will never have. Being picky and selective with such an opportunity seems very foolish and comes across as ungrateful and selfish.

  48. I would be so angry if the Broncos even consider him at the 10th pick. That’s way too high for this guy. I would be surprised if any team picks him in the first round. He might turn out to be a great QB in the NFL but I seriously doubt it.

  49. If he doesn’t abandon one of them to fully commit on one sport, then he will be no good at either of them. If his agent thinks he’s a round 1 pick, he should join the NFL.

  50. If Murray is another Rickey Henderson, he should play baseball. I don’t think he’s the next Tom Brady. If Rickey was beginning his MLB career right now, he’d be worth $1 Billion.

  51. If he were considered a more solid NFL QB, this would make sense. Eli and John pulled it because they were considered cant miss QBs. There are teams that will not have a first round grade on him and there are teams who many not consider him until day 3. So by leveraging his already shaky market, he may be ensuring a trip back to the MLB. It’s in his best interest to commit to one or the other, lest he ends up failing at both. His doesn’t have near the leverage this article insists he does.

  52. NFL teams know that Murray is playing them to get more money from the A’s. Fortunately, the A’s are not biting.

    He who chases after two birds often ends up with none.

  53. As an employee of a multinational conglomerate, I would love to live in Hong Kong, Sydney, or Buenos Aires. BUT THEY AREN’T ASKING ME, Nor should they.
    ________________

    If you have the requisite skill, training, and experience, you can live in any of those places and work for whatever company that you wish. That should not be a problem for you, janitorial skills are transferable across industries.

  54. Too many grown men hating on kids. If you worked as hard and had the same talent in your field, you too would have the pick of the litter career wise. These guys work their behinds off for opportunity’s like these. These are earned, not given. Make the best decision for you and your family, young man. Kyler will be a top-10 pick

  55. realitypolice says: “You missed my point. The original commenter described using drafts, salary caps and revenue sharing to create a level playing field as an “american ideal”.”
    ==========================

    Within the NFL ecosystem, parity IS the American ideal. Every team faces the exact same challenges to win the Super Bowl:
    – 11 players on offense
    – 11 players on defense
    – $178m salary cap
    – same NFL rulebook applied
    etc.

  56. The rant here against the draft system is pretty weak. The NFL is a SPORTS COMPETITION, and competitions are only worthwhile if they are relatively fair. An uneven playing field is bad for business AND competition. Equal opportunity is also as American a goal as it gets.

  57. Why do you make a living reporting on a league that you obviously cannot stand? This stand up against the man stuff speaks volumes, Mike, and what it says is not very good.
    ——————
    Great point. Have thought this for years.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!