College players can now get paid, how will that affect the NFL

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A recent Supreme Court ruling allowing players to get paid for their likeness has turned the college sports world upside down. Now, instead of the poor kid from the projects having to pretend he found a way to pay for a new car while not working a job, he can make money by shilling for the local car dealership in awkward TV ads.

This will obviously have a massive impact on college sports, but will the effects trickle up to the NFL?

The main effect on the NFL is the timing of players entering the draft. When players couldn’t get paid, they had every reason to enter the draft as soon as possible, since even late round picks make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. But now they may not want to take the risk.

In the modern NFL newly drafted players make a relatively small amount. The players who end up being good in the pros also end up being underpaid for years until their rookie deals expire. It was a no-brainer before, it’s still a lot more money than they’d get in college. But now it’s harder to say.

Trevor Lawrence came out early and will make $9 million per year on average during his first four seasons. That’s $9 million more than he was making before, but with the new rules it’s entirely possible that he could have made that much in sponsorships given that he was the biggest star in college football.  And now that he’s in Jacksonville, and the NFL, it’s entirely possible that he doesn’t live up to expectations and his marketable value plummets.

We could see a future where the top players end up staying in school longer, as they choose the guaranteed income in college over the risk of going to (and failing in) the NFL.

In practice, this means we could see relatively weaker drafts over the next couple of years as top talent stays in college. But over the long term those players will eventually make it to the NFL, and when they do, they will be older, more experienced, and more ready to go from day 1.

This will make draft picks temporarily less valuable, but in the long term they become more valuable as teams are able to play them sooner and exploit their cheap contracts for longer.

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07/27/2021 2:47 am

SCOTUS didn’t go far enough to suit me. ALL those kids deserve to get paid.

07/26/2021 11:25 am

I see a lot of the female athletes getting deals to shake their moneymaker as well.

Reply to  ArrowFan
07/27/2021 2:45 am

Excellent point!

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