Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray Enters NFL Draft

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner says he wants to play in the NFL. On Monday, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray announced that he has entered the 2019 NFL Draft, which likely means forgoing an opportunity to play professional baseball and join the Oakland A’s. 

In theory, Murray can still alter his plans and join up with the A’s, who may be willing to rework his contract in order to match his potential earning power in the NFL. But, if Murray can convince teams that he is absolutely serious about playing football, he may be able to put himself in the first-round mix, which would result in a hefty four-year guarantee.

Right now, NFL scouts estimate that he’ll be a second- or third-round pick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. But, given his tremendous athleticism and upside, it’s not hard to see him as a Day 1 selection.

Most evaluators have also told Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter) that Murray projects as a Friday pick, meaning Round 2 or 3. However, QBs tend to inch up the board as the draft draws near, which is why we’ve had 13 first-round QBs taken in the last four years versus just two second-round signal callers in the second round.

In his first season as a starter, Murray threw for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns and ran for another 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Sooners. Oklahoma reached the College Football Playoff semifinals with Murray at the helm but fell to Alabama 45-34.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Kyler Murray’s Future

Oklahoma QB and Heisman winner Kyler Murray is now expected to enter the NFL draft and is leaning towards a football career despite a report last month indicating that he would follow through on his baseball commitment after being selected by MLB’s Oakland A’s with the No. 9 overall pick in last year’s draft. However, the A’s are not going down without a fight.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Athletics GM Billy Beane and other members of the team’s front office are meeting with Murray today in an effort to convince him to stick with baseball (the deadline for Murray’s application for entry into the NFL draft is tomorrow). As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, the A’s don’t necessarily need a firm decision from Murray today. All they need is for Murray to not slam the door on baseball, because until he does, there’s a good chance that no NFL team will spend a first-round pick on him. And if Murray is not going to be a first-round choice, he may be inclined to stay with baseball.

Much of that has to do with simple math. The A’s gave Murray a $4.66MM signing bonus, which he would be required to pay back if he chooses to play football, and as ESPN’s Chris Mortensen observes, the last pick in the first round of the 2018 draft (Lamar Jackson) got a $4.97MM signing bonus (Twitter link).

Mortensen reports that Murray is still expected to apply for the NFL draft, regardless of how convincing Beane’s pitch is, though he will have 72 hours to change his mind.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Fitz, Wilson, Henry

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald did not announce that he would return for the 2018 season until mid-February of 2018, and it appears that we could have a similar wait in 2019. Fitz told ESPN’s Adam Schefter earlier this week that he would take some time to collect his thoughts after a difficult 3-13 season, but that the team’s recent hiring of new head coach Kliff Kingsbury would not sway him one way or another. If Fitz does decide to play, he would technically be eligible for free agency, but it is impossible to imagine him playing for a team other than Arizona.

Now for more from the league’s west divisions:

  • This probably doesn’t mean much, especially in light of last week’s reports on the matter, but Kingsbury has said that he would consider drafting Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray with the Cardinals‘ No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, per ESPN’s Sam Ponder (via Twitter).
  • The Seahawks are set to begin contract negotiations with quarterback Russell Wilson, and in a piece that is well-worth a full read, Joel Corry of CBS Sports says that Wilson’s new deal will pay him at least $35MM per year.
  • After being activated on Monday, Chargers TE Hunter Henry is expected to play in the team’s divisional round showdown in Foxborough this afternoon, per Albert Breer of SI.com.
  • We heard yesterday that Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell will be a top target of new Broncos coach Vic Fangio, and Mike Klis of 9News tweets that Donatell is currently deciding between staying in Chicago or following Fangio to Denver.
  • Former Buccaneers defensive line coach Brentson Buckner will join the Raiders in the same capacity, per Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • 49ers defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina will not be returning to the team, per Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Twitter).

Cardinals Won’t Trade Rosen, Draft Murray

The Oakland A’s expect Kyler Murray to give up on baseball in order to pursue his NFL dreams. The buzz in the football world is palpable, and speculation has built around a possible union between the Cardinals and the Oklahoma quarterback, with the Cards trading 2018 first-rounder Josh Rosen. Such a scenario is “ludicrous” and “not happening,” a Cardinals source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

New Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury has referred to Murray as a “freak” in the past and lauded his immense potential. Still, giving up on Rosen so soon in favor of a talented, but undersized, QB prospect, would be incredibly gutsy. You can never say never on anything – particularly when the Cardinals already went way outside of the box to hire Kingsbury – but the odds of this happening do feel unlikely.

The Cardinals have a number of needs to address on both sides of the ball and trading Rosen for pennies on the dollar to replace him with another rookie QB would not make a whole lot of sense. Instead, the Cardinals would probably be best served by going with another position with the No. 1 overall pick, or trading down in order to take care of multiple areas of need.

Rosen, 22 in February, finished out with a 3-10 record in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

A’s Expect Kyler Murray To Enter NFL Draft

The Oakland Athletics own Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray‘s baseball rights after selecting him in the first round of the 2018 MLB draft, but they expect him to declare for the NFL draft this weekend, according to Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle.

Simply declaring for the NFL draft doesn’t necessarily mean Murray will decide not to play for the Athletics, although one source does tell Slusser that Murray is reportedly leaning towards football. If Murray does opt to play football, he’d be required to pay back the A’s more than $4.5MM. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) NFL decision-makers believe Murray is “magic” and predict he’d come off the board on Day 1 or 2 of the draft, so he’d be able to make up that lost money in short order.

Murray and his agent Scott Boras have never officially ruled out the NFL despite persistently denying interest in deviating from an MLB-based plan. The Athletics would retain Murray’s baseball rights, but playing both baseball and football is not an option for Murray, per Slusser. The time commitments afforded to modern day professional sports simply make a dual-sport athlete nearly impossible.

Murray will likely need to make a decision by the end of February, as Slusser reports. He’ll be expected to attend Spring Training at that point, while the impending NFL Draft Combine would also require his attention, meaning the Heisman winner’s hand will likely be forced.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Murray, NFL Draft, Brown, Giants, Butler, Raiders

Kyler Murray’s Oklahoma Sooners were eliminated from the College Football Playoff last night, and the watch is officially on to see whether or not he’ll enter the NFL Draft. Murray is a two-sport athlete who was drafted ninth overall by the A’s to play baseball. The A’s gave him a nearly $5MM signing bonus to play baseball, but his Heisman winning season has left open the possibility that he’ll decide to play football instead.

Speaking before the game against Alabama, Murray didn’t shut the door on an NFL career even though his baseball agent has insisted he’ll be playing pro baseball, saying “it’s never bad to have options” according to Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com.. It’s unclear where Murray might go in the draft if he declares, and reports have him going anywhere from early in the first round to late on Day 2. With spring training for MLB teams set to begin in just a couple of months, we should know more about his intentions very soon.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of the draft, today’s Week 17 slate gave us some much anticipated clarity about the 2019 NFL draft order. The top 18 is officially set, per ESPN, with the Cardinals picking first overall. The 49ers, Jets, Raiders, and Buccaneers will round out the top five. The Cardinals will likely have a new coach and possibly new front office making the decision, and plenty of the top teams could be looking to trade down with teams more in need of a quarterback.
  • Guard Jamon Brown has played well for the Giants since being claimed off waivers from the Rams earlier this year, but New York hasn’t tried to negotiate a new contract with him yet, a source told Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. Brown is set to be a free agent this offseason, and could land a decent sized payday. He’s been a solid starter in his career, but was waived by the Rams shortly after returning from a two game suspension.
  • Raiders tight end Paul Butler has been inactive for both games he’s been on the 53-man roster, but the team apparently thinks highly of him. Oakland promoted him from the practice squad because the Lions were trying to sign him away, a source told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Twitter link). Butler is a rookie UDFA from tiny school California University of Pennsylvania.

Latest On OU QB Kyler Murray

Although Oklahoma quarterback — and Oakland Athletics first-round pickKyler Murray has committed to pursuing a career in MLB, there are signs he could be positioning himself for an NFL tenure, as well. For one, Oklahoma recently submitted Murray’s name to the Collegiate Advisory Committee for draft feedback, according to Kalyn Kahler of Sports Illustrated.

Typically, per Kahler, schools will only submit their players’ names at the request of said player, but Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley declined to give any specifics about his team’s process. And asking the CAC for feedback doesn’t tie Murray to the NFL — it’s simply a request for scouts to evaluate his chances of becoming an early pick in 2019.

Still, the mere fact that Murray is still — at least tangentially — poking around in NFL circles is notable, especially given his agent Scott Boras’ recent comments at the MLB Winter Meetings. “When you win the Heisman Trophy, you’re going to have a lot of information come to you and be looked at,” Boras said, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. “All I know is that Kyler has a tremendous opportunity to be a great baseball player. He knows that.”

That’s a notably softer tone from Boras, who previously — and strongly — indicated Murray would only pursue an MLB career. On top of that that, Murray’s contract with the A’s includes a provision that would require him to pay back or forgo a large part of his signing bonus if he decides to play in the NFL, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB Network. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, such a clause is hardly surprising, but Murray could make much more via a rookie NFL contract that he will under his $4.6MM deal with the Athletics.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kyler Murray To Pursue Major League Baseball

Newly-anointed Heisman winner Kyler Murray will not be playing football for a living, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes. Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics selected Murray with the No. 9 overall pick of the 2018 MLB draft and handed him a contract that allowed him to play football for Oklahoma this year. However, Murray’s agent, the one and only Scott Boras, told Rapoport that, once Oklahoma’s season is over — the Sooners will take on Alabama in the College Football Playoff in a few weeks — Murray’s contract commits him to the A’s.

Of course, Boras has plenty of personal incentive to make sure that his prized youngster continues to pursue his baseball destiny. And, as a general rule, it makes more sense — from a health and financial perspective — for athletes like Murray to play baseball rather than football at the professional level. That may be especially true in Murray’s case, as the scouts that Rapoport has spoken with suggest that Murray would be at best a second-round choice if he were to enter the NFL draft, and is more likely to be a third-round selection.

However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter hears differently, and a GM that he has spoken with believes that Murray could be a first-round choice, especially in light of the success that Murray’s predecessor at OU, Baker Mayfield, is having in his rookie campaign (Twitter link). Murray has expressed a desire to play baseball and football, though he concedes that such an aspiration is probably not feasible. Nonetheless, he seemed very much on the fence when asked about his future several days ago.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, Murray needs to firmly commit to football if he wants to be an NFL quarterback. But given his recent comments and his existing baseball contract, even if an NFL club was inclined to overlook his height (5-10) and make him a first-round choice, it would be hard-pressed to do so. The ever-increasing market rate for viable NFL signal-callers could make it tempting for Murray to eschew his baseball aspirations, but the smart money right now appears to be on his fulfilling his commitment to the Athletics.

If baseball does not work out, he could give the NFL a shot in a couple of years, though he would be facing a steep uphill climb at that point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.