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Volume 27 No. 5
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Money Ball: The Numbers Behind Kyler Murray's NFL Bet

The debate about whether Kyler Murray made the right decision when he opted to give back a $5M signing bonus from the A’s to enter the NFL Draft has quieted of late, as speculation swirls that the Cardinals might take Murray with the No. 1 overall pick. However, with Murray taking part in Oklahoma's Pro Day today, an examination by THE DAILY at career earnings by similarly situated players in both sports -- QBs and baseball position players drafted out of college -- reveals that, from a financial perspective, it was a clear-cut decision all along. While baseball vs. football might be a close call for some players, it is an easy one for a QB -- and especially for a QB who does not also pitch. Comparing first-round QBs to first-round college baseball position players (non-pitchers) in each of the last 15 draft classes in both sports, the median QB had higher career earnings than his baseball counterpart in all 15 years. QBs had both far higher ceilings and far lower floors, as the highest earning QB outpaced the highest earning position player in 14 of 15 cases and the lowest earning QB earned more than the lowest earning baseball player in every case. From '04-15, the lowest earning QB in each draft class still collected career earnings of at least $10M. In only one of those years did the lowest earning baseball player crack $2M. So great is the disparity, the lowest earning QB has outpaced the best compensated baseball player in eight of 15 years. The study does not include players from junior colleges, thereby excluding '10 No. 1 MLB Draft pick Bryce Harper.

POCKET PRESENCE: Even the MLB players who became stars were outpaced by the highest earning QB drafted in the same year. For example, Giants C Buster Posey (No. 5 pick, '08) has earned $107.6M, while Falcons QB Matt Ryan (No. 2 pick) has earned $163.2M. Additionally, Giants 3B Evan Longoria (No. 3 pick, '06) has earned $77.3M, while former QB Jay Cutler (No. 11 pick) has earned $122.2 million. Even if a player's clock is set back three years to account for time in the minors, QBs still earn more.

CAREER EARNING OF FIRST-ROUND QUARTERBACKS AND COLLEGE BASEBALL POSITION PLAYERS
 
YEARS
HIGH
PLAYER
LOW
PLAYER
MEDIAN
AVG
MLB
'18
$7,025,000
Joey Bart
$2,250,000
Seth Beer
$4,660,000
$4,574,211
NFL
'18
$22,329,440
Baker Mayfield
$5,448,471
Lamar Jackson
$13,965,846
$14,732,093
MLB
'17
$7,005,000
Brendan McKay
$2,820,200
Logan Warmoth
$3,850,000
$4,208,000
NFL
'17
$21,504,146
Mitchell Trubisky
$9,713,635
Deshaun Watson
$11,762,661
$14,326,814
MLB
'16
$6,200,000
Nick Senzel
$1,772,500
Will Smith
$3,286,700
$3,309,786
NFL
'16
$23,677,990
Jared Goff
$6,422,593
Paxton Lynch
$22,588,656
$17,563,080
MLB
'15
$7,694,050
Dansby Swanson
$1,490,830
Chris Shaw
$2,123,200
$3,420,338
NFL
'15
$25,258,894
Jameis Winston
$24,239,134
Marcus Mariota
$24,749,014
$24,749,014
MLB
'14
$5,049,950
Kyle Schwarber
$2,035,500
Casey Gillaspie
$2,860,400
$3,391,749
NFL
'14
$40,654,802
Blake Bortles
$7,707,913
Johnny Manziel
$12,850,238
$20,404,318
MLB
'13
$19,731,848
Kris Bryant
$1,839,400
Eric Jagielo
$3,170,248
$5,208,905
NFL
'13
$9,685,300
E.J. Manuel
$9,685,300
E.J. Manuel*
$9,685,300
$9,685,300
MLB
'12
$9,271,468
Mike Zunino
$1,525,000
Victor Roache
$2,422,293
$3,383,721
NFL
'12
$97,107,998
Andrew Luck
$11,537,954
Brandon Weeden
$48,377,226
$51,350,101
MLB
'11
$31,500,000
Anthony Rendon
$1,175,000
Levi Michael
$6,506,724
$11,062,890
NFL
'11
$104,692,164
Cam Newton
$12,546,345
Jake Locker
$16,056,427
$37,337,841
MLB
'10
$21,565,000
Yasmani Grandal
$1,359,000
Kolbrin Vitek
$2,000,000
$4,931,867
NFL
'10
$130,022,863
Sam Bradford
$9,687,500
Tim Tebow
$69,855,182
$69,855,182
MLB
'09
$21,397,500
A.J. Pollock
$900,000
Tim Wheeler
$2,993,267
$6,741,557
NFL
'09
$178,278,969
Matt Stafford
$28,328,824
Josh Freeman
$74,223,773
$93,610,522
MLB
'08
$107,615,000
Buster Posey
$1,150,000
Allan Dykstra
$14,119,383
$20,918,837
NFL
'08
$178,707,925
Matt Ryan
$147,800,000
Joe Flacco
$163,253,963
$163,253,963
MLB
'07
$54,934,217
Matt Wieters
$1,575,000
Beau Mills
$3,741,178
$15,997,893
NFL
'07
$39,365,000
JaMarcus Russell
$10,927,102
Brady Quinn
$25,146,051
$25,146,051
MLB
'06
$77,300,000
Evan Longoria
$1,976,000
Matt Antonelli
$9,618,271
$24,628,135
NFL
'06
$122,196,087
Jay Cutler
$18,810,000
Matt Leinart
$35,390,000
$58,798,696
MLB
'05
$155,817,500
Ryan Braun
$1,998,500
Tyler Greene
$55,740,943
$66,020,195
NFL
'05
$204,044,529
Aaron Rodgers
$24,454,500
Jason Campbell
$146,475,000
$124,991,343
MLB
'04
$59,843,443
Stephen Drew
$1,820,000
Landon Powell
$2,853,500
$16,842,611
NFL
'04
$235,280,004
Eli Manning
$12,306,500
J.P. Losman
$195,102,260
$159,447,756
*Only QB taken in round 1
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Murray 1

SLOT RECEIVERS: Another way to look at it is to compare players taken at the same point in their respective drafts. Because no player from the last three MLB Draft classes has made the majors yet, we limited comparisons to '04-15. Using those metrics, QBs still have fared far better, though it is closer if you look at six QBs taken in the bottom quartile of the NFL Draft in the last 15 years.

NFL DRAFTEES QUARTILE COMPARISON
FROM '04-15
LOW
HIGH
MEDIAN
AVERAGE
NFL Q1
$12,586,002
$235,280,004
$39,365,000
$75,938,220
NFL Q2
$9,685,300
$187,286,864
$12,546,345
$44,765,123
NFL Q3
$7,707,913
$204,044,529
$12,306,500
$60,378,975
NFL Q4
$5,448,471
$12,850,238
$6,422,593
$8,240,434
NFL 1/1
$22,329,440
$235,280,004
$100,900,081
$100,248,832
NFL Not #1
$5,448,471
$204,044,529
$20,042,595
$47,896,852
NFL Q1, Not #1
$12,586,002
$202,917,656
$29,203,473
$57,237,748
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Murray 2
MLB DRAFTEES QUARTILE COMPARISON
FROM '04-15
LOW
HIGH
MEDIAN
AVERAGE
MLB Q1
$2,834,100
$155,817,500
$15,400,000
$37,812,771
MLB Q2
$1,575,000
$59,843,443
$4,105,000
$10,567,125
MLB Q3
$1,150,000
$128,396,285
$2,309,780
$10,201,940
MLB Q4
$900,000
$6,506,724
$1,839,400
$2,181,870
MLB 1/1
$7,694,050
$7,694,050
$7,694,050
$7,694,050
MLB Not #1
$900,000
$155,817,500
$3,232,263
$16,313,724
MLB Q1, Not #1
$2,834,100
$155,817,500
$15,956,477
$39,067,718
* Includes position players taken from '04-15
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Murray 3