Clarifying the NFL contract rules regarding baseball

AP

The Kyler Murray contract is identical to the Jameis Winston contract in that the Kyler Murray contract voids any future guaranteed money if Murray engages in any baseball activities. The Kyler Murray contract differs from the Jameis Winston contract in one key way.

Per multiple sources, the Jameis Winston rookie agreement revised the Standard Player Contract to allow the Buccaneers to seek an injunction that would stop Winston from playing baseball. Although Paragraph 3 of the Standard Player Contract gives the team the right to pursue injunctive relief for “engag[ing] in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.”

Joel Corry, a former agent who currently writes for CBSSports.com, has pointed out that a side letter negotiated between the league and the union in 2018 banned the expansion of the injunctive relief power to baseball. As one source explained it to PFT, the issue came to a head because teams were revising rookie deals to list other activities beyond baseball as conduct that could be shut down via court order.

Another source explained that the side letter simply reaffirmed the existing rules of the CBA, specifically eliminating some language that clubs had been using. The current list of permitted activities does not include language regarding the playing of another sport.

As a result, nothing keeps Murray from giving up football for baseball, something that (theoretically) he could do if he decides after a year or two that he doesn’t enjoy football as much as he thought he would. To do that, he’d have to pay back the unearned portion of his $23.59 million signing bonus.

Winston wouldn’t have had that option, under the terms of his contract. As one source explained it, the Buccaneers would have sued to prevent Winston from paying back his unearned signing bonus and ditching football for baseball. Although Winston may have won before an arbitrator on the question of whether the clause violates the CBA, the contract as written gave the Buccaneers the ability to shut down any effort by Winston to change sports.

Again, Murray’s deal omits that language, because it’s now clearly established that the teams cannot apply a restriction of this type. So he could still pick baseball.

After one year, Murray would owe the Cardinals $17.69 million. After two years, he would owe $11.79 million. After three, he’d owe $5.89 million. By paying back the unearned bonus money, he’d then have no obligation to the Cardinals, and (in theory) could play baseball or do anything else he wanted to do.

This issue rarely comes up because very few players have viable, lucrative options in other sports. Murray does. And interested baseball teams surely will be monitoring his football career to determine whether he may be inclined to conclude at some point that, just like he did when paying signing bonus money back to the A’s to play football, he would be willing to pay back signing bonus money to the Cardinals to play baseball.

13 responses to “Clarifying the NFL contract rules regarding baseball

  1. Murray has said several times that he is not going to play baseball, he’s a QB and has no intention of leaving the NFL to go play baseball. He’s said he has always wanted to play football he just didn’t know how the NFL felt about him. He’s not going to leave behind a career where in the matter of a few years he could sign a deal worth over 140$$ Million Plus Dollars making well over $35+ Million per year plus millions more in endorsement deals all to go ride a bus around from city to city in the minor leagues making MUCH LESS money that he currently is all in hopes of making it to the Big Leagues. Even if he is put on a 40 man roster, he will still make far, far, far less money. His rookie deal is worth 6X more than the A’s were going to pay for crying out loud. Not to mention the Celebrity and status that comes with being an NFL QB, Especially a good one. It is pointless to keep beating this drum and cheerleading for Murray to play baseball, it is not going to happen. Murray is an NFL QB and that’s what he plans on being, if he wanted to play baseball he could have and didn’t. This narrative is old and tired.

  2. If talent was the only question, RGIII would have a $200 million contract. However, running QB’s don’t last long in the NFL. Murray is attempting to do something that’s never been done. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The kid is awesome. He’s exciting. There’s always a first time for everything. It gets boring watching non-athletic Tom Brady win the super bowl every year. Maybe this kid can re-invent the position. Re-invent the sport. Sounds simple enough.

  3. Bet the Bucs now wish the contract stated Winston had to play baseball and not football since he sucks so bad at it.

  4. If that baseball movie was accurate, Brad Pitt wouldn’t give up more than a vending machine to sign Murray.

  5. kohila79 says:
    May 12, 2019 at 1:07 pm
    Bet the Bucs now wish the contract stated Winston had to play baseball and not football since he sucks so bad at it.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    We have a winner!!!!

    Best comment of the week, maybe the month.

  6. @Hawkkiller – Your assuming he’s a success in your scenario. No one believes if he is succeeding that he will leave for baseball but after 2 or 3 years if he’s struggling there’s a good chance he goes and plays baseball.

  7. @CharlieCharger – Murray is not a running qb he’s a qb who can run, there’s a huge difference. Murray is a pocket qb who looks to throw 1st not run. If you watched him play you would understand that.

  8. charliecharger says:
    May 12, 2019 at 12:48 pm
    If talent was the only question, RGIII would have a $200 million contract. However, running QB’s don’t last long in the NFL. Murray is attempting to do something that’s never been done. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The kid is awesome. He’s exciting. There’s always a first time for everything. It gets boring watching non-athletic Tom Brady win the super bowl every year. Maybe this kid can re-invent the position. Re-invent the sport. Sounds simple enough.
    ++++
    There is no reinventing the QB position. You design plays to the QB’s strengths. It’s that simple.

    If your OC and HC can’t do that, it’s time to get new ones.

  9. If a player wanted to leave football to become a doctor, or a soldier, or professor of mathematics and was willing to pay back the unearned portion of the singing bonus no one would question their ability to do so. In fact, all three of these scenarios have happened.
    Desiring to play another sport should be no different. If a player pays back the unearned portion of their contract they should be free to pursue any opportunity that they desire.

  10. Pretty simple there Boss. You sign to play football, you can’t play baseball.

  11. Isn’t Russell Wilson playing baseball? Thought he attended spring training with the Yankees…so why the big who-ha over Murray and a non-baseball clause? Sounds like some people have a lot of doubts about this kids durability? ability to commit to a task? maturity?
    Many elite players participate in other “dangerous” sports in the off season in order to keep their reflexes and ability to focus razor sharp, stay fit and always maintain their competitive
    edge. Cross training has long been part of the diet for elite level athletes, so all this fuss to “protect the team’s investment” seems misplaced and really more an indictment of a player’s actual abilities to cut it, when the stakes are raised. What I’m reading is that the team isn’t sure it made the right decision, and is trying to insulate itself from as many “hazards” as possible short of keeping him in a bubble.

  12. The Winston provision is just as valuable as the toilet paper it’s written on. If Winston wanted to play baseball and the Bucs obtained a court order preventing that, do you think he’d play well at quarterback?

    Probably not. He’d most likely play even worse, those two INTs a game would probably turn into four, with an “accidental” fumble or two.

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