No, Caleb Williams will NEVER get an NFL ownership stake in the draft

In the pantheon of ridiculous NFL rumors and speculation, this one belongs in the Louvre. Old news is making the rounds again that USC quarterback Caleb Williams is seeking an ownership stake as part of the rookie contract he signs when he enters the 2024 NFL Draft.

This is categorically, unequivocally, never, EVER going to happen. It’s not even worth speculating on for a second, because in July the NFL banned teams from giving equity shares to players and employees, fearing this could be a negotiating tactic on the horizon as salaries continue to rise.

Even if we imagine for a split second this practice was allowed, nothing would spectacularly crater a draft prospect’s stock like requiring an equity stake. Seriously. Let’s say Williams’ agents did tell teams that he wouldn’t sign his rookie deal without a equity agreement, and pretend he stuck to that demand: The No. 1 overall pick would plummet to at LEAST the 3rd or 4th round without blinking an eye, with a solid chance he’d go undrafted all together.

There is a way to read a demand like this and say “Well, the face of the franchise is the reason the team is successful, so shouldn’t they share in it?” but when you scratch the surface the slightest amount this crumbles into dust.

Imagine for a split-second that a franchise quarterback finds an owner willing to give up equity. Now they’re getting paid on their NFL contract, and sharing in the profits of the team. What’s to stop a player of Patrick Mahomes’ caliber (for example) signing for the veteran minimum to warp the cap, take more ownership points to get his money, and assemble a team with every big player in the league while still being under the cap?

The valuation of teams is so varied that equity points inherently imbalances the league and gives the richest teams a vast advantage. It would effectively cost Jerry Jones 2 percent of the Cowboys ($9B valuation) to give a player an $18M ownership stake, while Mike Brown would need to give up almost 5 percent of the Bengals ($3.5B valuation) to match that deal.

There’s no doubt NFL players deserve to be paid. The system is still messed up to the point where we don’t have good answers on how players should be compensated fairly with guaranteed deals without putting the future of their franchises at risk — but taking that to active players acquiring ownership stakes is beyond ridiculous.

And it will never, ever happen.

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