Now that he has declared for the NFL Draft, let’s take a look at what his potential earnings may be.
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback and Oakland Athletics 2018 draftee Kyler Murray officially announced his intention to declare for the NFL Draft on Monday, ending a nearly two-day saga in which fans awaited his decision.
Murray, as many of you know, won the Heisman Trophy for his outstanding quarterback play at Oklahoma. He also was picked in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, where the Athletics drafted him ninth overall as an outfielder.
With the deadline to declare for the NFL Draft on Monday, Murray had to make a decision: fully commit to playing professional baseball, or pivot to playing football. Murray can still play baseball, but with the news on Monday, the door remains open for a professional football career. Had he not declared for the NFL Draft, professional football would not have been an option. By declaring, however, he has made his intentions clear.
The news is important. The Athletics and Major League Baseball reportedly met with Murray in an attempt to dissuade him from making this decision, even going as far as offering him an opportunity to earn more money on top of his $4.66 million signing bonus.
Money obviously was an important factor in Murray’s decision, and now that it is all-but-certain that he will be playing in the NFL, let’s take a look at how much money he can expect to earn as a first round quarterback draft pick:
The above chart shows the rookie contracts for every quarterback selected in the first round of the NFL Draft in the past five years. Considering most first round NFL Draft picks earn fully guaranteed contracts, separating out the signing bonus from the overall contract value might just be a formality here. Signing bonuses are always fully guaranteed, but Murray will probably be paid out in full nonetheless.
The average first round quarterback earns just shy of $20 million over their four-year rookie contract, with a $12.7 million signing bonus.
A lot of this has to do with where Murray is picked. The Arizona Cardinals currently have the first overall pick, and since they selected a quarterback last year, it is unlikely he will be the top choice. The same goes for the second, where the San Francisco 49ers will be selecting. They seemingly have their long-term answer in Jimmy Garoppolo. Barring a trade, Murray won’t go first or second overall.
Marcus White at NBC Sports Bay Area (h/t Yahoo Sports) aggregated three mock drafts to see where Murray will be selected. The Athletic had him at No. 15 overall to the Redskins, USA Today had him No. 27 overall to the Raiders and CBS Sports had him No. 29 overall to the Patriots.
Using the five years of data that I collected, I was able to create a scatter plot showing the impact of pick position on overall contract value for first round quarterbacks.
The polynomial trend line that I created in Excel has a R-squared value of 0.913, making it the best option to reduce variability among this data. Therefore, we can use it to have a decent idea of where Murray’s resulting contract may lie.
If Murray is picked at 15th overall, the trend line projects him to earn $12,509,025 on his rookie contract. The best comparison for that scenario is Deshaun Watson, who was selected at 12th overall and earned $13.85 million. If he falls further, to 27th or to 29th, he’d expect to earn about $8 or $9 million.
Of course, Murray could earn a larger sum, considering draft bonuses increase every year. He could also use his leverage to earn more money than otherwise expected by threatening to play baseball, similar to how John Elway threatened to play baseball when the Colts drafted him in 1983.
Still, conflicting reports arose about whether Murray demanded the Athletics pay him $15 million more to play baseball. Jeff Passan of ESPN pretty much shut those down. But, in a world in which the Athletics did offer him $15 million more to continue to play baseball, he would have made $19.66 million playing baseball before even stepping on the major league diamond, a number that I don’t think he’ll be able to get playing football.
Devan Fink is a Featured Writer for Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DevanFink.