Money Ball

The list of NFL quarterbacks Jaden Rashada will be making more than at the University of Miami is staggering

On Sunday, the college football world saw its latest NIL mega deal come and go when Pittsburg High School quarterback Jaden Rashada reportedly signed a $9.5-million dollar agreement with a private booster to join Mario Cristobal’s new-look Miami Hurricanes. The deal was reached after Rashada—who just finished his junior year and is the 7th-ranked QB prospect in the 2023 class according to 247Sports—reportedly turned down an $11-million offer from Florida’s Gator Collective to sign with The U.

If a four-star junior getting $11-million-dollar-a-year offers from middling ACC and SEC programs seems crazy to you, that’s because it should. That’s because it is. But buckle up, becauase Rashada’s deal gets even more bonkers in context … specifically the context of how the NFL’s young crop of signal callers are being paid.

Needless to say, nobody is going hungry on this list but Joe Burrow led the Bengals (THE CINCINNATI BENGALS!) to within a drive of winning the Super Bowl last season. Rashada is set to make half a million dollars more in 2023 than Burrow will this year. Blame it on inflation. Argue that college players deserve to be paid. You wouldn’t be wrong, at least not entirely, but it conflates the core issue:

This isn’t the way it was ever supposed to work.

The NIL was about giving players the opportunity to build their brands and be paid fair market value to do so. Much like Saudi Arabia’s hostile takeover of golf at the moment, however, the NIL has become an RPG for private benefactors, who are injecting artificial sums of money into vulnerable sports not for altruistic improvement, but to exert more control over them. Whether Rashada will become a casualty of this approach or a champion of it remains to be seen, but make no mistake: This deal (and others like it) isn’t a sign of the times. It’s a sign the times can’t last.