Posted by Tom Fornelli
Earlier today the news broke that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was going to return to Stanford next season instead of entering the NFL Draft. It was a surprise to most, seeing that Luck has been projected as the top pick in the draft, and it seems Jim Harbaugh is on his way out of Palo Alto to cash in on the NFL riches his quarterback is passing up.
In his post on the subject, the honorable Adam Jacobi said that it may not be the wrong decision for Luck to stay in school. He brought up some good points too, pointing out how college quarterbacks without a lot of starts under their belt have a history of struggling in the NFL. He even brought up the example of David Carr. Still, in spite of all that, I'm of the firm opinion that Luck is making a costly mistake to stay in Palo Alto.
There are a lot of things out of Luck's control with this decision that nobody can predict. Should he have gone on to the NFL, there's no guarantee he'd have succeeded. Staying in school, there's no guarantee that he'll get through another season or two healthy, or be rated as highly of an NFL prospect ever again.
Here's the one thing we do know about Luck: had he gone to the NFL, he'd have gotten paid. Not paid like you or I get paid, but "I can't choose between these yachts, so I think I'll buy both of them. Oh, and the Bentley too," paid.
We don't know what the future of the NFL holds. There may be a lockout next season, there may not be. What we do know is that as the top pick in the draft, and a quarterback at that, Luck would have landed a huge deal from the Carolina Panthers. Look at what Sam Bradford got from the St. Louis Rams with last season, signing a deal with $50 million guaranteed.
All indications are, whether there is an NFL lockout or not, one of the changes the NFL will be making is to put a cap on all rookie contracts. Which means that the difference between entering the 2011 draft and the 2012 draft could mean around $45 million for Luck. That's a lot of money to just give away.
Luck is a good quarterback. Will he be a great quarterback, I don't know. None of us do for sure. Still, I really don't think going back to school for another year will really help his chances. If Luck is destined to be an NFL great, he will put the work in to get better and become one. If it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be.
Whatever the case is, I'd rather be a failed NFL quarterback with $50 million in my bank account than one with $5 million. If Luck does become a great player, he'll end up being paid either way. It's just, in this decision, the risk is not worth the reward for Luck. Yes, that degree from Stanford will be nice, but football isn't a sport anybody can play until they're 70 years old. He'll have plenty of time to go back and finish his degree if it means that much to him.
But the opportunity to break the bank, and set yourself and your family up to live comfortably for a few generations doesn't come around very often. I fear Luck may have just blown his.