Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
But with rumors circulating that Murray will instead choose a career in the NFL, the Athletics are reportedly making a pitch to Murray to reconsider, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
Bob Nightengale @BNightengale
The Oakland #Athletics have a contingent, led by president Billy Beane, meeting today with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray in hopes of persuading him to forego the #NFL and play baseball for them. They drafted him 9th overall last summer and gave him a $4.66 million bonus.
According to a report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 9, the Athletics have expected Murray to declare for the NFL draft and that the team “might consider allowing Murray to go the [NFL Scouting Combine], a move that would require the approval of Major League Baseball.”
Per Slusser, Murray would have to pay back his signing bonus if he chose football over baseball, though the Athletics wouldn’t receive a compensation pick for losing Murray.
“That’s a huge problem, not getting a draft pick back,” a source told Slusser. “That would be really bad.”
A part of his agreement with the Athletics after he was drafted was that Murray would play one year at Oklahoma before reporting to spring training with Oakland. But Murray promptly emerged as one of college football’s brightest stars this past season, throwing 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions while also rushing for 1,001 yards and 12 additional scores.
That earned him the Heisman Trophy and called into question which sport Murray would ultimately choose. The fact Murray is considered “a lock as a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft,” per B/R’s Matt Miller, further makes the NFL a viable option.
As one scout told Miller:
“I’ve gone back and forth. I’m kind of stubborn and old-school, so I’ve said hell no for the last two months. But in today’s game—in a wide-open offense—he has a chance. I mean, he’s been the best player by far at every level he’s played at, so I can’t be surprised if he’s a solid quarterback. His tape is hard to evaluate because it’s so many 10-second plays holding the ball. He never sets his feet in the pocket and he’s tiny. But in all honesty, I kind of think Baltimore would’ve been better with him than Lamar [Jackson] this past Sunday.”
Another scout added that Murray had the talent to play in the NFL but his small stature—he’s listed at 5’10″—could be an issue.
Murray could also try his hand at being a two-sport star, though trying to balance the responsibilities of being an NFL quarterback while playing an entirely different sport seems untenable. Murray is going to have to ultimately choose, and all indications are pointing to him picking football.