When it comes to Kyler Murray’s commitment to football, actions will speak much more loudly than words. The problem for the NFL team that picks Murray could be that his ultimate action — a return to baseball — comes only after a draft choice has been squandered on him.
Yes, Murray says he’s fully committed to football. But with the A’s still committed to pursuing Murray, Murray’s commitment can flip back to baseball just as quickly as his commitment flipped away from it.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Oakland A’s remain determined to sign Murray to a baseball contract. Rosenthal also explains that the A’s have the power to offer Murray a baseball contract over and above his now-forfeited $4.66 million signing bonus, unlimited by the constraints of the NFL’s rookie wage scale.
This means that, as a practical matter, the NFL team that drafts Murray could find itself in a bidding war that it can’t win, because its bids will be restricted to whatever the NFL’s CBA allows for whatever spot Murray is selected in.
Sure, Murray says he’s playing football. Per Rosenthal, the A’s believe the statement posted on Murray’s Twitter account was written by agent Erik Burkhardt as a first step in persuading the NFL powers-that-be that Murray won’t pull a Bo Jackson, who opted for baseball after the Bucs made him the first overall pick in the 1986 draft. While it’s unlikely that Murray would scoff at becoming the first overall pick, there’s surely a floor below which his commitment to football will begin to wane.
When that begins to happen is anyone’s guess. And for the team making that guess, it’s a risk that could be too significant to bear.
That’s why the A’s handling of Murray continues to be brilliant. By not rescinding their rights to Murray but instead remaining steadfast in their interest to employ him, the A’s create what few NFL draft picks ever have: A viable alternative to signing on pro football’s dotted line.
While Murray may be flattered by Oakland’s ongoing interest in him, the reality is that the A’s are doing his football career no favors by continuing to be supportive and patient and possibly ready to give him more money than what an NFL team could offer.