MESA, Ariz. — When Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy, the Oakland Athletics knew there was a chance he might chose football over baseball.
That is exactly that happened.
On the day the A’s started spring training workouts, Murray said he will pursue a career in the NFL.
“We took the best athlete on the board and who we thought was probably the best baseball player on the board, too,” Athletics general manager David Forst said. “We’ve known all along this was a possibility. We knew he had a great option in the NFL, so we’ve known for a while that there was a chance this was going to happen.”
Murray was the ninth overall pick in last June’s baseball amateur draft, and the outfielder agreed to a minor league contract with Oakland for a $4.66 million signing bonus. He is a football quarterback and is eligible for this year’s NFL draft, which starts April 25.
Oakland had a locker with a No. 73 jersey waiting for him.
“I am firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback,” Murray tweeted . “Football has been my love and passion my entire life. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100 percent of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships. I have started an extensive training program to further prepare myself for upcoming workouts and interviews. I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft.”
Murray’s baseball deal called for him to receive $1.5 million within 30 days of the deal’s approval last summer by Major League Baseball and $3.16 million on March 1. While there is a provision for a team to get an extra draft pick in the following draft if it fails to sign a player selected prior to the fourth round, there is no such provision for a player who signed and then decided not to play.
Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders played both football and baseball, but Jackson was a running back and Sanders a cornerback.
“Quarterback is a very demanding position, as is being a Major League baseball player,” Beane said. “To say somebody could or couldn’t, I’m not here to say that. Something like that is something that is part of our private discussions.”
“He’s one of those rare athletes, who I think any sport that he played, he’d probably excel at,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Murray passed for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns for Oklahoma last season. He ran for 1,001 yards and another 12 scores, posting the second-best passer efficiency rating in FBS history.
“Obviously the fact that he would want to play quarterback, if he chooses the football route, is a little different than Deion or Bo or some of those guys,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said in November. “But he athletically is so gifted and can transition between the two.”