INDIANAPOLIS (BVM) – The college football transfer portal is drawing comparisons to free agency because of NIL money. Nick Saban said it best when he referred to name, image and likeness rules in that it “creates a situation where you can basically buy players.”
“Make no mistake – a good quarterback in the portal costs $1 million to $1.5 million to $2 million right now,” Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule said about 2024 transfer portal QBs.
Over 1,300 FBS scholarship football players entered the transfer portal for the 2023-24 cycle. The NCAA prohibits schools from directly paying athletes to play – so NIL collectives have taken on the burden of retaining and/or luring talents with top dollars. Note that an NIL collective is essentially an organization that collects funding from donors to provide NIL opportunities to athletes at that school, according to On3.
Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward is supposedly being offered at least a million dollars in the transfer portal from 10 different programs.
“Let’s just say I heard from one source, and a pretty dialed-in one, that Cam Ward has 10 seven-figure deals waiting for him,” FOX college football analyst Brock Huard shared on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. “He has 10 different deals from around the country that will pay him seven figures to come be their quarterback.”
College coaches are speaking up about how players on their rosters are being enticed with NIL cash. Then-UH coach Dana Holgorsen stated that Cougars wide receiver Matthew Golden was being offered six figures in NIL money from other programs. His comments came just a month before Golden announced his decision to transfer to Texas.
“He’s been offered six figures… these numbers are bonkers,” Holgorsen said on his weekly radio show in November. “I don’t know if they are true or not but he’s getting offered a lot of money to go play for SEC schools. Hope he stays. We have to continue to elevate our NIL program if we expect to retain guys like that.”
Coaches, such as Colorado State HC Jay Norvell, have even asked fans to donate to NIL collectives to help retain players. Norvell revealed that Rams quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi was offered $600,000 by another program to transfer, according to The Coloradoan. Regardless, he remains committed to CSU.
“It’s incredibly important that people that care and love CSU get involved in this NIL collective,” Norvell told The Coloradoan. “It’s the only way we’re going to be able to compete and stay with these teams… We’re doing all we can to fight off a lot of these wolves that are trying to poach our roster and take our young players.”
College football players are playing the NIL game. In some cases, top talents are putting their name into the portal just to see how much they are worth.
“There are schools offering anywhere between $500,000 and $5 million for a player, depending on the position,” one prominent NIL agent told OutKick. “This is now a business and the athletes have figured out how the NIL game works. One quarterback who is currently in the transfer portal is looking for $4.5 million for one year, but this is the market we negotiate in now.”
Overall – with a mix of elite talents and dedicated fanbases with deep pockets – these NIL deals aren’t expected to slow down anytime soon.