Kyler Murray was drafted ninth overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 2018 MLB draft, but after a stellar season as the University of Oklahoma’s starting quarterback culminating in a Heisman Trophy, the 21-year-old has a chance to make it big in the NFL, too. Now, he must choose between the diamond and the gridiron.
Baseball is the safer, smarter choice
There is a multitude of reasons for Kyler Murray to pick baseball, but the most important is his safety. Football is an extremely dangerous sport in comparison to baseball. In the short term alone, he has a greater chance of injury in football than baseball, which could shorten or even end his career. In the long term, the biggest threat to a football player’s health is brain health: Football is one of the highest-risk sports in the world for head injuries and concussions. Head injuries can threaten a football career in the short-term, but they could also lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease that can lead to further health complications, including depression, suicidal thoughts, Parkinson’s, and progressive dementia. Meanwhile, the risk of brain injury is almost non-existent in baseball.
Further, the future is bright for Murray’s baseball career. Murray was selected ninth overall by the Oakland Athletics. With young stars like Matt Chapman and Matt Olson as well as multiple top 50 prospects, the Athletics have a promising future ahead of them of which Murray could be a part. Meanwhile, many football pundits say that Murray could succeed more quickly in football. However, there is no guarantee that this is the case, especially given that he is six inches shorter than the average NFL quarterback. Considering that very few quarterbacks under six feet tall achieve stardom, Murray’s road to success faces a difficult roadblock.
Lastly, Murray is already guaranteed $4.66 million if he plays baseball, and, if he leverages his position correctly, he could end up with as much as $15 million in his first contract. To build on an already-hefty guarantee, his career will likely last longer in the MLB. The average baseball career is 5.6 years long, compared to just 3.3 years in the NFL. Every additional year means Murray can make millions more in salary. If he becomes the player the Athletics project him to be, Murray could eventually sign a free agent contract for over $100 million.
Baseball is the safer decision for Kyler Murray, both financially and physically. And here, the safer choice is the better one.
The money is in the NFL
Kyler Murray should stick with the NFL to maximize his athletic potential. Murray appears to be a consensus top-15 pick in the NFL Entry Draft. The list of quarterbacks selected in that range over the past few years is filled with standouts like Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. In baseball, success would not come as quickly. Murray would likely have to toil in the minors for several years before finding his place with the Oakland Athletics. During this time, Murray would not be paid as much as he would make in the NFL. By choosing football, Murray is more likely to find success sooner rather than later.
Further, Murray must choose between playing quarterback and playing outfield. While both make exceptional salaries, NFL quarterbacks on average make $2 million more than MLB outfielders. Currently, the highest-paid player in the NFL is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who made over $75 million this season including endorsements. Meanwhile, the highest-paid MLB player is Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who made over $33 million this year.
The only reason Murray might have for choosing baseball over football would be an already guaranteed contract with Oakland, thus making them the safer destination. However, Murray is fairly certain to find a place in the NFL that would pay him a higher salary given that it is extremely unlikely for his drafting team to give up on him during his rookie contract. The NFL is most certainly a greater gamble, but Kyler Murray’s talent is worth betting on.
Editors’ Choice: Baseball
One thing is for sure: Kyler Murray has a bright future ahead of him wherever he ends up. We want to see Murray choose baseball, though, so he can stay safe for years beyond the end of what should be a lengthy athletic career.