Dual sports star Kyler Murray’s decision to give up an MLB contract with the Oakland A’s to enter the NFL Draft paid off on Thursday, when the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the first overall pick.
Continue Reading Below
Murray is projected to sign a fully guaranteed four-year contract with the Cardinals worth roughly $35 million, including a $23 million signing bonus. By comparison, the former University of Oklahoma standout’s initial deal with the A’s included a $4.66 million signing bonus.
Murray’s future in professional sports was a subject of widespread debate until February, when he announced his intention to pursue an NFL career. The 21-year-old returned $1.29 million of the initial $1.5 million payment he received from the A’s, and forfeited the remaining $3.16 million he would have received on March 1 if he had chosen baseball, ESPN reported.
While top-tier MLB stars sign much larger contracts than the NFL’s biggest names, Murray would have faced a lengthy trek through baseball’s minor leagues and salary arbitration system before reaching free agency, with no guarantee that his production would warrant a major deal. Instead, Murray will get the chance to be the Cardinals’ starting quarterback from day one, earning significantly more at this stage than he would have as a minor league baseball player.
Murray is on track for net pay of $20.4 million from his first NFL contract when accounting for taxes, according to Robert Raiola, director of the sports and entertainment group at PKF O'Connor Davies. His deal will contain a team option for a fifth season at higher pay.
Murray won the Heisman Trophy as an Oklahoma Sooner in 2018, tossing 42 touchdown passes and more than 4,300 passing yards.