The NFL saw fewer college players turn pro when they still had NCAA eligibility this year than in previous years, and that’s because college players can now make significant money thanks to the rights to their name, likeness and likeness. :
Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed provided one example of how NIL money affects players’ decisions. Reed, who threw for 4,744 yards, 40 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season and was the New Orleans Bowl MVP, told TheAthletic.com’s Chris Vannini that when he put his name on the transfer portal, other college teams were promising that if he . transferred, he will earn NIL, which is comparable to what a late round pick would get.
“When the available money was put on the table, it was really difficult,” Reed said. “This is the money a late draft pick makes.”
Reed ultimately decided to stay in Western Kentucky, in part because of a NIL deal with a local real estate company. He also believes Western Kentucky is a place that could help him improve his own stock for the 2024 NFL Draft. (Reed’s predecessor at Western Kentucky quarterback, Bailey Zappe, was a fourth-round pick of the Patriots in 2022.
“Is money more important this year than the money that can be made down the road?” Reed thought. “If I go somewhere and have an average year, I’m just on the verge of being drafted. Or if I have another great year [at Western Kentucky]I can appear in the first three rounds.”
There was a time when the decision for a draft-eligible player was to either take the money or stay in school. College players now have options to earn NIL money at their current school, seek more NIL money through the transfer portal, or go to the NFL. It’s a better situation for the players, and one that will lead to some players deciding to wait another year before heading to the NFL.