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Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

Former FO writer J.J Cooper is still at his day job over at Baseball America, and he looks here into the question of whether Kyler Murray should play baseball or football. Basically, compared to someone like Jeff Samardzija, playing the quarterback position changes the numbers significantly. Quarterbacks get paid more than other positions, and they last longer. So Cooper's estimate is that Murray would make more money and make it sooner if he declared for the NFL draft instead of joining the Oakland A's after Oklahoma's season is over.

Comments

14 comments, Last at 12 Dec 2018, 3:22pm

1 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by ddoubleday // Dec 07, 2018 - 12:41am

I don't think he's right. There are no 10 year, $250M guaranteed contracts in football, even for QBs.

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2 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by ddoubleday // Dec 07, 2018 - 12:42am

And he's much more likely to have a CTE-free post-career life.

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6 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by dmstorm22 // Dec 07, 2018 - 3:10pm

MLB definitely has a higher upside, even if you are a QB, but there's no guarantee he's going ot be good enough to make a 10yr/$250mm deal.

NFL will get him moire sooner, and if you risk-adjust getting that post-FA contract in baseball, it is probably a close discussion.

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7 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by dank067 // Dec 08, 2018 - 3:16pm

On top of this, if you assume that Murray is a legitimate first-round talent, does that already tell us that he's more likely to achieve the level of success we're talking about as a QB compared to a baseball position player drafted at #9 overall at 20 years old? There are so, so many MLB 1st round picks that never come close to the majors, let alone make it as an everyday starter, while he would basically be guaranteed a chance to start in the NFL.

In terms of odds of success, consider that MLB prospects are also competing against an international player pool that doesn't enter the draft.

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10 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by Pat // Dec 10, 2018 - 10:57am

"There are so, so many MLB 1st round picks that never come close to the majors, let alone make it as an everyday starter, while he would basically be guaranteed a chance to start in the NFL."

Eh. You're making it out to be like it's massively more likely he'll succeed in football than in baseball, and it's not *that* different. Don't get more wrong, he's still more likely to succeed in football if he's a high first rounder, but it's probably only like 2-3x more likely, not 10x more likely. Actually, in terms of "bust rate" (as in, players who basically don't have a career at all) it's pretty close between the two sports.

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11 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by dank067 // Dec 10, 2018 - 11:37pm

I would certainly defer to any numbers that have been calculated, but it does seem to me like there should be additional value to Murray given that he has more information about how close he is to playing in the NFL - in baseball terms, he may already a top rising prospect in AA/AAA about to be promoted into the everyday lineup, rather than just about to enter the minor league system next season.

Of course, if he isn't a 1st round pick that totally changes the math. Been seeing more discussion of him as a mid round pick the last few days.

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13 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by Pat // Dec 12, 2018 - 9:05am

The problem, to me, is simple: he's short. It's easy to say "he can succeed in spite of that!" but... He doesn't have to. There's no problem in baseball.

Scouts and teams might be willing to take a flier on him, sure: but it's still a flier. The odds are definitely against him in the NFL, and it's quite possible he doesn't like the risk.

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3 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by SFC B // Dec 07, 2018 - 9:31am

As a QB of any talent he's also likely to be the face of a franchise. That sort of publicity allows for marketing opportunities far beyond what he'd get as a baseball player.

The only way he's likely to come out ahead financially should he play baseball is if he's good enough to get a 7+ year contract, whether as a free agent or the team buying out his arbitration years. Assuming he's good enough at baseball the A's, while their recent history has been... frugal... are apparently lined up for a new stadium. He could be in a position to get locked in to a decent contract if the team gets the new stadium.

But I think Cooper is right that, as a QB, he's almost certainly going to be better-off financially to play in the NFL.

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4 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by RickD // Dec 07, 2018 - 2:01pm

The claim that QBs last longer than pitchers doesn't really stand up to scrutiny. We are witnessing the career ends of a couple of massive outliers on the QB endurance scale.

The argument that Matt Stafford's career would likely be longer than Clayton Kershaw's is mind-boggling. Even though he's no longer pitching at an MVP level, Kershaw is still a top 10 pitcher in a league that employs ~150 starting pitchers. Stafford is roughly a 20-25 level QB in a league that employs only 32 starting QBs. One cannot simply say "Brady and Brees are still starting, therefore QBs are more likely to last long than pitchers", especially when comparing a mediocre QB to a Hall of Fame pitcher.

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5 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by Ambientdonkey // Dec 07, 2018 - 3:03pm

I'm no Stafford fan, but he's a bit better than 20-25.

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8 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by J.J. Cooper // Dec 09, 2018 - 1:06pm

You describe it as an outlier, but as I laid out in the story, there are 7 NFL starting QBs this year that are 35 or older (Brady, Brees, Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger, FItzpatrick and Rodgers). That's nearly 25 percent of the league, not a stat being skewed by one or two outliers.

Lets back up a decade. In 2008, there were five NFL starting QBs who were 35 or older (plus backups Trent Green, Brad Johnson and Jon Kitna who played some).

Lets back up another decade. In 1998, there were eight NFL starting QBs who 35 or older (plus 7 35+ backups).

I don't see any outliers here. If you're a quarterback it's quite reasonable to think that you may be able to play into your late 30s. It happens all the time.

On the other hand, there were only 11 players in baseball this year who qualified for the ERA title or the batting title who are 35 or older. Let's lower the threshold to 100 innings pitched for pitchers last year. There were 7 starting pitchers who met that criteria. Lower the criteria to 50 innings (which includes a lot of relievers) and you get only 17 pitchers 35 or older (and as you note, there are a lot of more roster spots in baseball than there are starting QB spots). Of those, 10 of those 17 contributed less than 1 WAR last year, which makes then fringe roster players. If we expand on the NFL side Josh McCown, Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel and a few other backups are kicking around on rosters at 35 or older this year.

As a whole, NFL QBs can expect their careers will be longer than that of MLB players.

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9 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Dec 09, 2018 - 4:51pm

You need to adjust pitcher longevity for seasons-played. A bunch of pitchers are in the MLB before they are of a draft-eligible age for the NFL.

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12 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by Cuenca Guy // Dec 11, 2018 - 2:11pm

And a bunch make it to the majors later. Kershaw made the majors at 20, one year before he would have been draft eligible for the NFL. Yet a guy like Clemens made it to the majors a year after he would have been draft eligible in football. Corey Kluber didn't make his debut in the majors until he was 25. Sonny Gray made his debut at 23. James Paxton was almost 25. Max Scherzer was nearly 24. Justin Verlander made his debut at 22. He only played in the minors a short time, but he, like many baseball players, went to college first. Those are the random pitchers I searched (I don't follow baseball much), and I left no one that I looked up off this list. While there are a handful of guys who make it perhaps a year before they would be eligible for the NFL draft, there are many who make the Majors a year or more (sometimes quite a few years) later.

I expect that if you made that adjustment, MLB pitchers would come out further behind. If they do have some advantage, it would be very slight and likely would only show up with the best of the best.

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14 Re: Financially Kyler Murray Would Do Better in the NFL

by RickD // Dec 12, 2018 - 3:22pm

You're conditioning the data wrong. It's not "percentage of starting QBs that are over 35". It's "percentage of QBs that enter the league and last until they are 35."

If you could say right now that Kyler Murray will play at a Hall of Fame level in the NFL, then sure, he should go to the NFL. But MLB pitchers don't have to reach the same elite level to have that kind of longevity. And there are a lot more of them.

As for the word "outlier", I mean from a historical perspective. Brady (and Brees to a slightly lesser extent) are reaching new ground in terms of longevity. If you want to consider average career length, it might make more sense to average that out over a larger set of QBs. Saying that Murray will be able to play as long as Brady and Brees is a statement comparable to advising a high school basketball player to skip college and go straight to the NBA, because, after all, that worked out well for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Moses Malone.

Ultimately there is a problem here that the set of MLB pitchers is so much larger than the set of NFL QBs. That makes any kind of projective forecasting of estimated salary problematic. And there's an issue of whether we're taking a point from a set (which is standard sampling) and starting with a point and trying to determine what set it is in (which is...well, unusual).

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