NFL may prove to be bet­ter op­tion for Mur­ray

Base­ball shouldn’t be def­i­nite for Mur­ray af­ter big sea­son at OU

The Dallas Morning News - - Sports Day - Twit­ter: @Tim­cowlishaw

For Kyler Mur­ray, this is the week for col­lect­ing hon­ors. The Davey O’brien Award and The As­so­ci­ated Press Player of the Year have been pock­eted. It’s a tight bat­tle with Alabama’s Tua Tago­v­ailoa, but I be­lieve the Heis­man Tro­phy will be handed to Mur­ray on Satur­day night in New York.

Then comes time for col­lect­ing his thoughts.

He has a game (or two) left to play for Ok­la­homa, to be sure, and pre­par­ing for Alabama may be fore­most on his mind. But what comes next?

The fore­gone con­clu­sion that Mur­ray would be done with foot­ball and be­gin his pro­fes­sional base­ball ca­reer next spring is no longer such a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

More and more, Mur­ray the NFL quar­ter­back makes more sense than Mur­ray the MLB out­fielder.

First of all, we have learned — if we didn’t fig­ure this out from his 42-0 record at Allen — that Mur­ray can play a lit­tle quar­ter­back. The pre­vail­ing thought that a 5-10 quar­ter­back has no place in the NFL gets di­min­ished with ev­ery Rus­sell Wil­son vic­tory. Baker May­field and Drew Brees aren’t the tallest quar­ter­backs to stand in the pocket.

As the NFL more and more re­sem­bles the wide-open col­lege game, Mur­ray’s chances to play and star at the high­est level in­crease. And he is not un­aware of this. In a re­cent ESPN in­ter­view with Tim Te­bow, Mur­ray, who signed a $4.66 mil­lion sign­ing bonus with the Oak­land A’s, was no longer say­ing it’s all about base­ball in 2019.

His fu­ture is up in the air, and the higher he gets pro­jected to go in the draft, the more sense it makes to stick with the sport that has made him fa­mous.

“That’s some­thing me and my fam­ily will talk about at the end of the sea­son,” Mur­ray said. “We’ll weigh out the op­tions of what the NFL thinks of me. Right now my fu­ture’s kind of planned out, but we’ll see what hap­pens.”

Kind of planned out does not sound so de­fin­i­tive. His base­ball agent, Scott Bo­ras, is stand­ing his ground, telling the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle this week that Mur­ray in­tends to ful­fill his agree­ment signed with Oak­land. “He will be in spring train­ing with the A’s,” Bo­ras said.

It has been re­ported that Mur­ray re­ceived $1.5 mil­lion of his first-round bonus with the rest due when he ar­rives in Ari­zona. Mur­ray could give back the money if he thinks his fu­ture is brighter in the NFL. And how could it pos­si­bly not be?

Mur­ray’s pass­ing num­bers are about as close to May­field’s as they can get. His run­ning num­bers are su­pe­rior. May­field went No. 1 over­all to Cleve­land, re­ceived a $22 mil­lion sign­ing bonus and $32 mil­lion in guar­an­teed money and, by rookie stan­dards and cer­tainly by Cleve­land stan­dards, has had a suc­cess­ful first sea­son.

If you don’t think Mur­ray is go­ing to be May­field, then take La­mar Jack­son, picked 32nd over­all by Bal­ti­more. He’s now play­ing and win­ning games af­ter Joe Flacco was in­jured. Even at the bot­tom of the first round, Jack­son’s sign­ing bonus was $300,000 more than Mur­ray’s Oak­land bonus. And Jack­son makes an­nual salaries in the $1 mil­lion range, which Mur­ray won’t see for four or five years. That road in­cludes plenty of mi­nor league buses.

While the NFL land­scape has changed to fit Mur­ray’s style, base­ball has gone the other di­rec­tion. On top of the fact he sim­ply hasn’t played much base­ball the last few years com­pared with other prospects, Mur­ray has plenty of speed but projects to have mod­est power. That might have worked in the St. Louis Car­di­nals’ out­field of the ’80s. It’s hardly what teams are seek­ing to­day.

Bob Melvin won AL Man­ager of the Year as the A’s won a stun­ning 97 games. They didn’t do it by grind­ing out runs with speed. Oak­land hit 227 home runs and stole 35 bases in 2018. If you’re go­ing to play the out­field in Oak­land, you have to launch the ball into the seats.

Mur­ray will prob­a­bly go into this de­ci­sion with as much ex­per­tise as one can pos­sess. His fa­ther, Kevin, played quar­ter­back at Texas A&M. His un­cle, Calvin, the for­mer base­ball player, works for Bo­ras.

But all it re­ally took was hear­ing Kyler say he plans to see “what the NFL thinks of me.”

Af­ter lead­ing the Soon­ers to 50 points a game and a play­off date with Alabama, af­ter see­ing the pre­mium that has been placed on mo­bile quar­ter­backs in re­cent years, the NFL will think plenty of Kyler Mur­ray.

The de­ci­sion is surely his to make, and there’s lit­tle doubt base­ball is the safer play in terms of his health. That can’t be tossed aside. But as both games evolve in the 21st cen­tury, foot­ball of­fers Mur­ray the much greater chance of con­tin­ued suc­cess and pros­per­ity.

Wt­[email protected]­las­


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