Kyler Murray officially became a part of the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday when the first-overall pick signed his rookie contract with the team. His deal, according to multiple reports, is a standard four-year contract with a fifth-year option. He’ll be earning over $35.2 million guaranteed over that time with a $23.6 million signing bonus.
Earlier this year, Murray was faced with a choice to stick with the Oakland A’s and a career in baseball, or enter the NFL Draft for a potential career in football. The dilemma became the source of intense debate over which sport would be the “smarter” decision for his future. Those who have a tendency to care about the health and safety of fellow human beings would immediately blurt out “baseball!” given the health risks that come with a career on the gridiron, and the gargantuan contracts that baseball stars have made over the years. This argument was so common that when Mike Trout signed his $430 million deal, Murray’s name also started trending from all of the people telling a 21-year-old “I told you so!” for making a career choice he thought was best for himself.
Murray ultimately chose football, and the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the first pick in the draft. From that moment on, it became clear that he had made the smarter financial decision—today’s official signing was nothing more than a formality of that fact. Why? Because what those pro-baseball arguments often forgot to mention was how fucked MLB’s financial system is towards younger players.
The path between Murray and his big baseball pay day was going to be littered with hurdles like minor league salaries below what constitutes a living wage, ugly working conditions and service time manipulation. If he was able to make it past all of that while avoiding major injury and maintaining an All-Star level of pay, then that big check would be his. With football, on the other hand, all he had to do was show up to the Cardinals facility and he was guaranteed $24 million before even taking the field. Not only does that beat out his one-year, $4.7 million with the A’s he signed after getting drafted, it also gives him more money than 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts will make this year.
There’s also the fact that Murray is very likely going to be the day 1 starter for the Cardinals because of the Josh Rosen trade, whereas he would have had to wait a few years before getting called up to even just be on Oakland’s 40-man roster. While it’s important to note that the only correct decision Murray could have made was the one that he believed was ultimately best for him, most people would agree that being a starting quarterback for an NFL franchise beats out playing summer ball somewhere in the Midwest in front of a crowd of a couple thousand.