Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger discuss Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud’s announcement that he will enter the 2023 NFL Draft, and talk about the possibility of NIL collectives being able to keep players in college in the future.
PAT FORDE: The sooner you start your clock in the NFL, the closer you get to the second contract when you become generationally wealthy.
DAN WETZEL: CJ Stroud, Ohio State quarterback, kind of teased the Buckeye fans a little bit. I don't know if he did it on purpose or not. Got a few hopes up that he was going to return to Columbus for a final season. And sure enough, he went pro.
The money is just enormous, obviously, particularly for a quarterback, you know, on these deals. And so he-- I think it was like up-- you can make $40 million guaranteed as the number-one pick. I think $32 million as the number five, which he may not drop past. Kind of got to do it.
However, there was the concept that, you know, could NIL make it so a kid like CJ Stroud says, you know what? I'm going to make-- I'm already making good money. My family's not destitute. I get another year to develop. I get another year to actually go to college and get a degree that I might be interested in. I get another year of trying to finish the job at Ohio State, win a national title, be with my friends, all of those things.
And in the past we saw-- we have seen quarterbacks do this. Peyton Manning was the number-one pick. He returned to Tennessee in '98. Andrew Luck was the number-one pick in 2010, I think. Returned to Stanford for another year. Matt Leinart returned to USC. Justin Herbert returned to Oregon.
So those kind of quarterbacks, all of whom come from upper-middle class to really wealthy families, at least in the case of the Mannings, had the option to make that decision. And NIL, it would seem to me eventually, one of these guys is going to say I'm going to do it, even though CJ Stroud grew up one of four kids, I think of a single mom, right? Didn't have that, but now he does.
So it didn't work out this time, but in the future, one of these guys is going to do this, right?
ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah. It's a matter of--
DAN WETZEL: Yeah. Yeah.
ROSS DELLENGER: It feels like a matter of time thing, you know? But I don't know that he was the guy because of, like, his upbringing. I think most people know his backstory now, but obviously he's got a lot in his personal life.
But it does feel like a matter of time type of thing of when a big, high-profile player, a first-round pick, maybe a top-10 pick will get, you know the $10 to $15 million NIL deal and loves college and wants his degree and hasn't won a championship yet or something and wants to stay to pursue that.
That was the big thing with this situation-- Pat can probably speak more on it-- is that, you know, we had heard that that was the big thing was that he wanted to win a national championship, and that was really kind of maybe pulling him back. And, you know, I'm sure that Ohio State's NIL collective folks were doing what they could do. But man, it's just, you know, the money is just-- it's not even close when you start getting into it.
PAT FORDE: Yeah. No, that's the thing. Dan, I thought your column was good in terms of pointing that out, you know, that the sooner you start your clock in the NFL, the closer you get to the second contract when you become generationally wealthy.
DAN WETZEL: Right.
PAT FORDE: And while, yes, staying another year in college for $5 million sounds great, it's not as good as getting closer to a, you know, six-year, $200-million deal or whatever the number would be. So he had to go.
And yes, somebody will do it. Sure, somebody will do it, I think. Now, the interesting thing--
DAN WETZEL: But it weakens-- it eases that. It's not zero to everything, right?
ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah.
PAT FORDE: No. Right. Right. Exactly. It's not. It's not the old days--
DAN WETZEL: Like, again, those four guys-- Manning Leinart, Herbert-- they all had that opportunity and all sat there and said, yeah, I can wait a year.
PAT FORDE: Right. Yeah. That's the thing. And the-- yeah, you're not just playing for your letter jacket and whatever anymore. I mean, you can stay in college and make a very good living, depending what it is.
The interesting thing to me that we're still-- I think we're a ways from figuring out is where's the sliding scale between a decreasing amount of money as a draft pick as you go down through the draft versus the amount that you can make in NIL, and where do those intersect? But, you know, for later-round picks-- for guys that are not top five or whatever, where will be that intersection point where it becomes as lucrative or nearly as lucrative to stay in college? So the problem is we don't really know what these collectives are doing, you know, in terms of actual numbers because this stuff isn't very public.