Cardale Jones Skips NFL, Might Have Cut Future Earnings by 87.5%

Cardale Jones announced Thursday afternoon that he would be staying at Ohio State, despite becoming an overnight sensation and a much-discussed name in relation to the upcoming NFL draft. In a press conference to announce his decision, Jones said, ” Being a first-round draft pick means nothing to me without my education.”

Jones’ story is unique; a third-string quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Jones has started only three games in his college football career — though it was those three games that secured Ohio State the national championship in the College Football Playoffs. This run shoved Jones squarely into the national spotlight as a possible candidate for a second or late first-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, reports ESPN.

In response, Jones set up a press conference Thursday at 4 p.m., the deadline for underclassmen to enter the NFL draft. And in a surprising move, Cardale Jones announced that he would be staying at Ohio State to complete his degree.

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Was Staying at Ohio State the Right Decision for Cardale Jones?

“My decision was simple,” Jones said, according to The Washington Post. “One of the most important things for me to do is graduate.”

For many, it seems like Jones’ decision to stay at Ohio State means he’s missing a huge opportunity. Jones has the national spotlight right now in a way that he might not next year.

In fact, as the third-string quarterback for the Buckeyes, he’ll be competing for a starting spot against teammates who have had the whole off-season to heal. If Jones is unable to start, his amazing win that led Ohio State to national victory could fade, causing him to miss the NFL altogether.

But for Jones, it seems that the risk of leaving his college degree unfinished is bigger than missing out on an NFL career.

There was no guarantee that Jones would have been drafted in the second or even third round of the NFL; The New York Times reports that Jones only started three games in his whole college football career, so taking Jones on would be a huge gamble for a professional team. Staying at Ohio State gives Jones a more forgiving playing field to hone his skills, as well as the opportunity to complete his studies in financial planning.

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What Cardale Jones Would Make as an NFL Rookie Vs. a Financial Planner

One of the most obvious downsides of Jones’ decision to delay the draft is missing out on NFL player paychecks. NFL players make a ton, but what could a rookie like Jones expect to make?

In the 2014 NFL draft, the No. 1 overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney, was signed for a four-year deal at $22.3 million — equal to about $5.6 million a year, according to Yahoo Sports.

But Jones was not projected to be the No. 1 overall pick, but a pick in the late first round or second round. NFL rookies who were drafted in that range in 2014 made considerably less than Clowney. Teddy Bridgewater, the last pick of the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, ended up making a quarter of Clowney’s salary — $1.4 million a year — reports Yahoo Sports. Rookies drafted as late-round picks made around $600,000.

It’d probably be safe to estimate, then, that Jones could have made around $600,000 to $1 million next year in the NFL.

Jones is studying to become a financial planner. How does that salary compare to the NFL? U.S. News reports a healthy median salary of $75,320 for a financial advisor.

If Jones were able to get a job as a financial advisor right in the median range, that’s obviously a huge loss from the $600,000 he would have likely made in the NFL next season. In fact, Jones would have to work as a financial planner for eight years making $75,000 to earn what he could have made in one year as an NFL rookie.

We hope Jones was aware of these figures and included them in his decision to stay in college. Overall, he seems confident in his choice; whether he ends up in the NFL or on Wall St., Jones will probably be more responsible with his cash than most college football stars.