The Oakland Athletics expect dual-sport sensation Kyler Murray to declare for the NFL Draft, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Slusser notes that declaring for the draft does not mean the Heisman winner will decide to reject his $4.66 million deal with the A's outright, but it does increase the chances of him ultimately choosing football over baseball.
She adds that another revealing sign could come on Feb. 15 when Murray and the rest of the A's position players are due at spring training. The NFL's scouting combine begins on Feb. 26, which Murray will likely attend if he chooses to go the football route. A source told Slusser that Murray is leaning toward football.
Multiple reports indicate that the 21-year-old could have first-round upside if he chooses the NFL route. He is currently ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the Athletics' system behind Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk and Sean Murphy according to MLB Pipeline.
“When you win the Heisman Trophy, you’re going to have a lot of information come to you to be looked at,” Murray's agent Scott Boras said at the winter meetings. “All I know is Kyler has a tremendous opportunity to be a great baseball player and he knows that. … He has every intention to be in spring training and advance that interest.”
Whether or not Murray's stance has changed since remains to be seen.
If Murray elects not to play baseball, he would have to return the signing bonus but Oakland would not receive any compensation picks in this June's draft, according to Slusser. The Athletics would retain his professional baseball rights should he join an NFL team, leaving the door open for a potential return to baseball later on. Slusser adds that there is no possibility Murray could play both baseball and football professionally at the same time.
Murray was selected No. 9 overall by Oakland in last year's draft but returned to Oklahoma for his Junior season, where he won the Heisman after tossing 42 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions. He led the Sooners to a 12-2 record in his first season as their starter.