Heisman winner faces Monday NFL draft deadline
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Kyler Murray, a two-sport star, has a bright future.
But a tough decision also looms. The Athletics expect their firstround pick and Oklahoma quarterback to declare for the NFL draft, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, leaving the door open to questions about his baseball playing career. Among the unresolved issues: How would Murray juggle reporting for spring training in mid-February with preparing for and attending the NFL scouting combine that month?
The Heisman Trophy winner was selected ninth overall in the Major League Baseball draft by the Athletics in 2018 and received a $4.66 million
signing bonus with the proviso he play one more year at Oklahoma before reporting to spring training.
Things have changed since he won the Heisman and led Oklahoma to a 12-2 record and a semifinal spot in the College Football Playoff.
“I’d take him with the first pick in the draft, if I could,” new Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said in a video last year when he was Texas Tech’s coach. “I know he’s signed up to play baseball, but he’s a dominant football player. I would take him with the first pick.” Where things stand:
❚ What is his current situation? Contractually, he is signed with the A’s and is expected to report to spring training on Feb. 15 in Mesa, Arizona. If he pursues the NFL, the scouting combine begins Feb. 26. The Chronicle reported that the A’s are considering allowing him to attend the combine.
❚ When is the deadline to declare for the NFL draft? Monday. Declaring doesn’t guarantee he’d choose the NFL over baseball. The A’s retain his professional rights if he tried the NFL first.
❚ Did the A’s expect Murray to pursue an NFL career? They anticipated it after he won the Heisman. But they expect him to come to spring training.
❚ What happens to the $4.66 mil- lion signing bonus he received from the A’s? If he decides to pursue an NFL career, he would have to give it back to Oakland. The A’s would not get a compensation pick in the June draft.
❚ Why choose the NFL over Major League Baseball? Murray could receive a greater guaranteed sum if he’s drafted in the first round of the NFL and also would reach free agency far sooner than in baseball. It would take Murray six full seasons to reach free agency in baseball after a presumed minor league apprenticeship of at least one season.
❚ Could he play both sports? Not likely. It would require a great deal of goodwill from both organizations. While Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders played both sports with some success, the unique demands of the quarterback position would make juggling both sports untenable, perhaps impossible. The last quarterback to attempt simultaneous careers was Drew Henson, and his career in both sports was brief.
❚ What is his NFL draft status? ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay project Murray to be a first-round pick.
❚ If he chose a baseball career, what’s next? Murray would join the A’s at spring training and likely begin with the high Class A Stockton Ports of the California League.
❚ What happens if he chooses football? The A’s would still retain his rights. Should his NFL career not pan out, he could resume his baseball career.
Kyler Murray played quarterback for Oklahoma after being drafted by the Athletics.