Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

Trevor Lawrence Must Resist Bolting CFB for Quick Pre-NFL Cash

David Kenyon

At this very moment, Trevor Lawrence is worth millions of dollars. If the Clemson quarterback were available in the 2019 NFL draft, he could be the No. 1 overall selection.

But he's not.

For players to become NFL-eligible, they must be three years removed from graduating high school. So, after leading Clemson to a national championship as a true freshman, Lawrence still has two years until he meets that criteria.

Technically speaking, he doesn't have to play college football. The obstacle is that no reasonable alternative exists. The Canadian Football League and Alliance of American Football mirror NFL rules, and the XFL's policy is a work in progress.

One powerful voice is trying to exploit that loophole.

Don Yeewho is Tom Brady's agenthas a vision of Lawrence as the centerpiece of the Pacific Pro Football League. Yee is a co-founder of the league, the inaugural game of which is planned for July 2019, and he explained the grand plan for Lawrence during an appearance on 104.5 The Zone (h/t Sports Illustrated).

"Our player population will be players such as Trevor Lawrence at Clemson," Yee said. "We would like to make him an employment offer, professionalize him right away, be our Joe Namath."

Yee also mentioned the potential for an endorsement deal from Adidas, one of the league's founding sponsors. That sponsorship could be worth millions of dollars.

Worth considering, right?

Lawrence has massive future earning potential; 2018 top pick Baker Mayfield signed a four-year contract worth $32.7 million, per Spotrac. For the next two seasons, though, Lawrence will be an unpaid superstar bringing in millions of dollars for the university all while risking career-altering injury.

And his coaches—from Dabo Swinney to the assistants—will be cashing hefty checks. Per USA Today, Swinney is the seventh-highest paid head coach, and Clemson's assistants rank No. 2 nationally.

Look, there's a strong argument against the current NCAA rule. Players should be able to profit on their own likeness, and Lawrence would benefit immensely if that were allowed.

However, let's save a deep dive into that discussion for later. The appeal of seven-figure earnings is plainly understandable.

According to Eben Novy-Williams of Bloomberg, Vanderbilt University sports economist John Vrooman said Lawrence being required to wait two more years for the NFL means not making another 11 percent of theoretical earnings, if otherwise allowed. Going to the Pacific Pro League would shrink that gap.

But is an early payday more valuable? The answer is a simple nounless you believe Lawrence is the key to overhauling the football landscape as we know it.

If he leaves Clemson, does anyone follow?

Lawrence is slated to spearhead an offense that returns its top three receivers in Justyn Ross, Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers. They combined for 160 catches, 2,511 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2018, and they were all freshmen or sophomores.

Barring an exodus of college football's top talent, Lawrence's best route to continue his development is at Clemson, surrounded by All-American-level teammates.

If top defenders don't also join the league, the competition level will be poor. Then, if Lawrence underwhelms in any way, it could drastically alter the perception of him before the 2021 draft. A shaky day or two against ACC teams would easily be more forgivable.

That's only the beginning of the uncertainty.

Yee touted a chance to learn an "NFL style game" as a selling point. But isn't Lawrence already doing the same at Clemson, which produced an immediate NFL star in Deshaun Watson?

And who are the coaches in the Pacific Pro League? Would they better prepare Lawrence for an NFL future than Swinney's staff at Clemson? That involves everything from game-planning to technical skills to weight training. Mike Shanahan will apparently develop the protocols, but where does his involvement end?

There are too many unknowns for Lawrence to chase a check.

Harry How/Getty Images

Granted, the argument in favor of doing that is similar. He's facing an enormous risk in college, handling hundreds of snaps per season while one tangled leg could reshape his life. If it happened as a pro, at least Lawrence would have some money, right?

This is a prime example of opportunity cost. Could Lawrence solidify his draft status in a brand-new league? Would the money earned now compensate for any potential value lost in two years?

Yee's comments were a calculatedand successfulattempt at publicity. Many probably weren't aware the league existed or forgot it's a thing that's happening, and mentioning Lawrence has garnered the headlines Yee wanted.

But the league isn't working from a position of strength. It's an unproven entity with vague ideas that, at this point, happens to have recognizable names attached. Legitimizing the league will take proof—not just one valued prospect.

Perhaps Pacific Pro becomes a real alternative in the future. Should that happen, it may even force the NCAA to finally allow athletes to profit on their own likenesses.

Lawrence, though, shouldn't rush to be a trendsetter in pursuit of uncertain money. He can leave that risk to someone else.

          

Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

   
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