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Could Kyler Murray be re-thinking his decision to drop football for an MLB career?

Yahoo! Sports logo Yahoo! Sports 12/5/2018 Jack Baer
a baseball player holding a bat on a field: Kyler Murray has definitely been enjoying himself at Oklahoma this season. (AP Photo) © Provided by Oath Inc. Kyler Murray has definitely been enjoying himself at Oklahoma this season. (AP Photo)

Even with the seemingly impossible-to-fill shoes of Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has taken the college football world by storm.

Murray currently leads the country with a 205.7 passer rating and 51 combined touchdowns between his 40 through the air and 11 on the ground. The former five-star quarterback has been setting records, pulling the Sooners back into the College Football Playoff and arguably became the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy in a dream season.

In his first chance to be the true QB1 for a college football team, Murray has shattered all expectations.

So that all begs the question: Just how committed is Kyler Murray to his $4.66 million contract with the Oakland Athletics?

Kyler Murray doesn’t rule out NFL career in ‘College GameDay’ interview

Murray was famously drafted by the Athletics ninth overall in the 2018 MLB draft, then reached an agreement with the A’s to play his junior year for Oklahoma football before jumping to baseball. It was an unusual arrangement in which the Athletics had to hope and pray that Murray got through the Oklahoma season with his body intact, lest they end up losing some of the value from their top 10 pick to a needless injury.

As it turned out, that probably shouldn’t have been Oakland’s biggest worry. Murray simply may be turning out to be too good at football to leave the sport behind.

That would be awful news for the A’s. MLB teams are reimbursed with an equivalent pick in the next draft if they fail to sign a player drafted in the first two rounds, but Murray did sign with the team. Him moving to football would mean that pick is automatically a bust.

That was the context in which Murray sat down with Tim Tebow on ESPN’s “College GameDay” and hinted that he may still have some thinking to do about an NFL career, as noted by The Athletic’s Julian McWilliams.

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“I think that’s something me and my family will talk about at the end of the season,” Murray said. “Weigh out the options of what the NFL thinks of me. Right now, my future’s kinda already planned out, but we’ll see what happens.”

Murray did rule out going back to Oklahoma for his senior year, but saying he still wants to weigh out his NFL options might not be a good sign for the Athletics.

Kyler Murray’s agent says A’s are still the plan

Outside of that interview with Tebow, Murray has maintained to reporters throughout the season that joining the Athletics in the offseason is still the plan. His agent Scott Boras reiterated that in a statement to Fancred’s Jon Heyman on Monday.

Of course, those words haven’t stopped Murray from invoking famous two-sport star Bo Jackson in a Twitter photo.

Or “borrowing” his Twitter profile picture from a graphic of a story entitled “We Cannot Let Kyler Murray Stop Playing Football.”

Those are some, shall we say, mixed messages.

Just how risky would an NFL jump be for Murray?

Until his breakout this season, the math was simple for Murray. A $4.66 million contract with the Athletics and the prospect of baseball’s long careers and juicy free-agent contracts were too safe to pass up for a career in the NFL, which is not known for being friendly to players.

But all of that might have been under the assumption Murray was simply a good college quarterback rather than the elite talent his numbers suggest. If Murray really is an NFL talent, then the calculus changes.

Throughout the season, Murray’s profile in the football world has risen. Mayfield, who signed a rookie contract worth $32.68 million guaranteed, proved last year that NFL teams will take a chance on undersized QBs with massive college production if the arm talent appears to be there, and Murray could be trending in that direction.

On the flip side, Murray really isn’t guaranteed to make much more than that $4.66 million in his MLB career. History is littered with top-10 picks that failed to make an MLB impact, including ones with promising football careers. Sticking with the A’s would mean spending years in the minor leagues with little pay beyond his signing bonus and hoping he can hit in the majors.

Murray would still face the infamous health risks of a pro football career and those should absolutely not be discounted, but there’s a decent chance baseball may no longer be the more lucrative option for him. All of that could make for a very interesting decision this winter for the 21-year-old.

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