These have been pretty interesting times for Jameis Winston, college football quarterback. Winston is coming off a storybook freshman season, leading the Florida State Seminoles to the National Championship at 14-0 (11-3 against the NCAAF odds) and winning the Heisman Trophy in the process. Only one other freshman has won the Heisman: Johnny Manziel. And just like Johnny Football, Winston’s name is all over the gossip rags these days.
Too bad it’s for the wrong reasons. We’ve heard about the sexual assault allegations and the botched investigation surrounding them. We’ve seen the attempted five-finger discount with the crab legs. Manziel looks like a saint in comparison, drinking champagne on his inflatable swan. But the latest Winston news is all about business. Big business. And it tells us something very important about his immediate future with the Seminoles.
A Business of Caring
According to Sunday’s Yahoo Sports report, citing a source close to the situation, Winston has taken out a massive insurance policy with between $8 million and $10 million in “loss of value” coverage. Here’s the deal: Winston is a projected Top 10 pick if he decides to enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Rookie contracts in the NFL are based on draft position – the higher Winston goes, the more he’ll make.
But what if he gets hurt playing for the Seminoles this year? Or what if Winston eats some bad crab and gets sick? That could send his draft stock spiraling, which would cost him millions of dollars. Probably about $8-10 million over four years if Winston falls out of the first round. So to hedge his bets, Winston is willing to pay an estimated $60,000 annual premium. Where’s he going to get the money? That’s another story for another day.
The Company You Keep
The top prospects in college football take out insurance policies like this all the time, although getting “total permanent disability” coverage through NCAA channels is a bit more standard – that’s what South Carolina Gamecocks DE Jadeveon Clowney (now with the Houston Texans) did going into the 2013 campaign. QB Sam Bradford (now with the St. Louis Rams) was the last returning Heisman winner to buy the “loss of value” version, before his 2009 campaign with the Oklahoma Sooners. Both Bradford and Clowney survived their junior seasons unscathed and were drafted No. 1 overall.
Which brings us to the larger story about Winston. If he’s taking out this policy, he’s much more likely to play only one more season at Florida State, and then enter the 2015 Draft. Just two weeks ago, Winston’s father Antonor told AL.com that the family was planning on Jameis staying with the Seminoles for two more years and finishing his degree. That could still happen, but nobody seems to believe it will.
Our Plans Are Based on Yours
There’s another wrinkle to this story: What if Winston decides not to turn pro? He’s not only a quarterback at Florida State – he’s also the closer for the Seminoles baseball team, and a very good one, striking out 31 batters in 33 innings this year with a 1.08 ERA. Winston is even a projected Top 20 pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. Unless he can convince his future owners to allow him to play both sports like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders (not likely these days), Winston is going to have to make a choice.
He could certainly choose to give the NFL a miss. That’s what 1993 Heisman winner Charlie Ward did after quarterbacking the Seminoles to the National Championship; Ward opted for a career in the NBA and turned out to be a fairly average point guard, but he lasted for 11 seasons and got paid very well for his efforts. Best of all, Ward was sacked a total of zero times in the NBA. Now that’s peace of mind.