Remember when everyone and their mom thought Kyler Murray was making a mistake by walking away from the $5 million Oakland Athletics signing bonus after they made it a number. 9 picks in the 2018 MLB Draft?
Pepperbridge Farms He remembers.
Today, his average annual salary is higher than Oakland A’s total for 2022. On Thursday, Murray and the Cardinal set that commitment in stone by agreeing to a five-year, $230.5 million contract that guarantees him $160 million. The average annual contract value of Murray of $46.1 million makes him the second highest paid player in the NFL. Fittingly, the extra half a million in Murray’s deal puts him a hair higher than Watson, who has an average guaranteed contract value of $46 million annually.
In the three years since he enlisted, Murray has had his share of ups and downs, but he’s also been electric enough to revitalize the Arizona Cardinals and establish himself as an outstanding quarterback. During the pre-draft process, Murray’s decision to quit baseball and risk his long-term health by pursuing a career in the NFL polarized the sports world.
It was small in size, and while it was a solid brown, it was hobbit-like compared to some of the physical specimens down the center. Soon after it was announced, Murray It was only predicted as a possible selection for the second or third round. Even as he started creeping onto the draft boards, the world was divided over which sport would provide him the most financial support. Numerous members of the media, baseball professionals, and even college football analysts advised Murray to follow the baseball path.
While that might be true for the average prospect, Murray wasn’t just any college football player. He was a phenom at quarterback who went 42-0 playing at the highest level of football in Texas, then won the Heisman Trophy in his first season as a starter. There was no way a guy like that was going to leave football behind to toil in the minors in the hopes of becoming the next Andrew McCutchen. His ceiling was to be a star in baseball and a household name in the NFL.
The highest annual 2022 salary for a player in the sport Murray left behind is Max Scherzer’s $43.33 million deal with the New York Mets. Granted, the lack of a 100 percent guaranteed contract is one difference between Murray’s contract and baseball’s most lucrative long-term deals, but given the way quarterback contracts are trending, that future may not be far off.
However, assuming Kyler Murray will play out his contract, the average annual value of his deal would make him the second-highest paid quarterback in NFL history. Scherzer’s $110 million contract is guaranteed for only three years, which still puts him $50 million behind Murray. In fairness to baseball, Murray’s $160 million guaranteed would only be the 13th highest guaranteed money in Major League Baseball.
While Murray’s peers in MLB have to navigate arbitration, he’s making the type of money the top players 25-and-under will have to wait years to earn in free agency.
The players earning more guaranteed money than Murray are Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Stephen Strasburg, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Joey Votto, and Mookie Betts. Lindor, who signed a 10-year, $341 million deal last spring at 27 is the youngest of that set of highly-compensated players.
Mets slugger Pete Alonso was drafted two years before Murray, made his major league debut on Opening Day of the 2019 season, won NL Rookie of the Year, and slugged 53 home runs to set a new MLB rookie record. That’s earned him a one-year $7.4 million contract with two more years of service time left before he can explore free agency.
Everyone gave their two cents on the economics of Murray’s choice to play football, but at the end of the day, he has proven with his play that he was worth more.