Best of luck to Jaden Rashada in all that comes next. Hopefully he’ll get to be the one who actually carves out his own fate. (Photo via Under Armor Next All-American Game.)
We’re now in the phase of the Jaden Rashada saga known as the “postmortem.” The ill-fated pairing of Florida and Rashada was officially broken off last month, but in this postmortem phase, more and more details are becoming known about what actually went down.
And those details are very telling, and illuminate exactly how this whole ordeal went down.
To hear The Athletic tell it, Jaden Rashada is a quiet, humble kid. Indeed, that is the picture that multiple recruits I’ve spoken to paint of him. But you wouldn’t know it by the terms of the NIL deals that came his way- terms that are difficult to believe he himself came up with.
First, there was the rumored deal that the Miami-affiliated company LifeWallet offered, which began while Rashada was in high school. Because Rashada lives in California- where NIL payments are allowed to be made to high school kids- this was legal. Around $500,000 were promised to be deposited into his bank account in his senior year of high school for duties that included shooting a commercial; the amount that Rashada was promised once he’d actually enrolled at Miami was said to be a lot more.
But then Florida and Gator Collective came and took him away with a deal that was worth approximately $13.85 million, and today, the details of this deal were finally unveiled.
To kick off the deal, Jaden Rashada was to be paid $500,000 up front, matching the promised deal from Miami. For each month of his freshman year at Florida, Rashada was to be paid $250,000 per month. For each month of his sophomore year at Florida, Rashada was to be paid $291,666 per month. For each month of his junior year at Florida, Rashada was to be paid $375,000 per month. And as a senior, he would be paid $195,833.33 per month.
In exchange for these monthly payments, Jaden Rashada was to fulfill four simple obligations. One, he was to establish residence in Gainesville, FL. Two, he was to make one branded post on twitter and one branded post on Instagram per month. Three, he was to sign up to 15 pieces of merchandise a year. And four, he was to participate in eight “fan engagement” events per year, which could include in-person appearances at Gator Collective events such as TAILGATOR and Fan Fest, interviews on podcasts and radio shows, or interviews (none of which would exceed 120 minutes).
The Athletic article also included the fact that Gator Collective held the right to terminate the agreement at its “sole and absolute discretion” at any time, a right that was exercised in December. According to sources of Outkick, the Florida booster who was originally willing to put up the money for this deal changed his mind. Which passes the logic test: it’s perfectly reasonable to conclude that it isn’t worth agreeing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per month to a kid who’d never stepped on campus, and the escape hatch of “sole and absolute discretion” written into the contract seems to make this about-face kosher.
But Rashada still wanted to be a Gator, even after the deal fell apart, and thus his camp and Gator Collective went to work trying to craft a new deal behind the scenes while he remained verbally committed. That needs to be made clear. Even after the $13.85 million mega-deal imploded, both Rashada and Gator Collective remained adamant that they wanted Rashada to be a Gator, and both sides kept trying to make something work for over a month after the original deal was nixed.
It wasn’t to be, though, and when the two sides could not agree on a reduced deal- which, let’s face it, is nearly impossible to do after a deal of $13.85 million falls apart- Rashada eventually ended up requesting a release from his letter of intent, getting it, and signing with Arizona State, presumably for a fraction of what he was set to earn at Florida- if anything at all.
To anybody following the saga from start to finish, the sum of these facts should cause eyebrows to raise, and questions to be asked. Jaden Rashada knew he wouldn’t receive close to $13.85 million at Florida once the booster backing the deal changed his mind- he just had to know that. It’s impossible to convince a reasonable person otherwise.
Yet he insisted on remaining committed and at least attempting to work out a new deal in the meantime. That indicates he was willing to play for less, at Florida, mind you, from the very onset.
But all signs indicate that the “adults” around Rashada derailed the match. Between the source at Outkick outright saying that “gentlemen were trying to outbid each other” to the demands from Rashada’s camp that his deal be worth the unprecedented amount of nearly $14 million when everyone around Jaden Rashada says he is the exact opposite of greedy and attention-seeking, the information that has arisen so far tell the tale of a kid whose talents throwing a football placed him in the middle of a bidding war between grown adults with nothing better to do. And if that is indeed the case, it’s a nauseating tale, and hopefully one that everyone involved can learn from.
For college football’s sake, I sure hope it is.