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Clarifying the NFL contract rules regarding baseball

Cardinals GM Steve Keim says Kyler Murray is already the Week 1 starter while Kliff Kingsbury isn't ready to make that announcement yet. Who will get the final say in Arizona?

The Kyler Murray contract is identical to the Jameis Winston contract in that the Kyler Murray contract voids any future guaranteed money if Murray engages in any baseball activities. The Kyler Murray contract differs from the Jameis Winston contract in one key way.

Per multiple sources, the Jameis Winston rookie agreement revised the Standard Player Contract to allow the Buccaneers to seek an injunction that would stop Winston from playing baseball. Although Paragraph 3 of the Standard Player Contract gives the team the right to pursue injunctive relief for “engag[ing] in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.”

Joel Corry, a former agent who currently writes for, has pointed out that a side letter negotiated between the league and the union in 2018 banned the expansion of the injunctive relief power to baseball. As one source explained it to PFT, the issue came to a head because teams were revising rookie deals to list other activities beyond baseball as conduct that could be shut down via court order.

Another source explained that the side letter simply reaffirmed the existing rules of the CBA, specifically eliminating some language that clubs had been using. The current list of permitted activities does not include language regarding the playing of another sport.

As a result, nothing keeps Murray from giving up football for baseball, something that (theoretically) he could do if he decides after a year or two that he doesn’t enjoy football as much as he thought he would. To do that, he’d have to pay back the unearned portion of his $23.59 million signing bonus.

Winston wouldn’t have had that option, under the terms of his contract. As one source explained it, the Buccaneers would have sued to prevent Winston from paying back his unearned signing bonus and ditching football for baseball. Although Winston may have won before an arbitrator on the question of whether the clause violates the CBA, the contract as written gave the Buccaneers the ability to shut down any effort by Winston to change sports.

Again, Murray’s deal omits that language, because it’s now clearly established that the teams cannot apply a restriction of this type. So he could still pick baseball.

After one year, Murray would owe the Cardinals $17.69 million. After two years, he would owe $11.79 million. After three, he’d owe $5.89 million. By paying back the unearned bonus money, he’d then have no obligation to the Cardinals, and (in theory) could play baseball or do anything else he wanted to do.

This issue rarely comes up because very few players have viable, lucrative options in other sports. Murray does. And interested baseball teams surely will be monitoring his football career to determine whether he may be inclined to conclude at some point that, just like he did when paying signing bonus money back to the A’s to play football, he would be willing to pay back signing bonus money to the Cardinals to play baseball.