Could Caleb Williams Be Angling For An Eli Manning-like Power Move in USC Trojans Departure?

Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Time is running out for USC Trojans QB Caleb Williams to declare for the 2024 NFL Draft. With Monday’s deadline closing in, we have to ask, what is Williams waiting for? He doesn’t have many options.

It’s either return for another year playing USC football or go pro. But what if Williams is trying to find a way to control his destiny in the NFL, too? After all, while it would be nearly unprecedented, what if Williams decided to sit out for a season and see which teams are set to have a top pick in 2025? That decision may be far too risky.

Then again, there could be another way Williams and his eventual management team ‘picks’ his NFL destination.

Like Committing To USC Trojans, Caleb Williams May Want Control Over NFL Destiny

caleb williams
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

In college, the most talented players like Caleb Williams essentially get to pick and choose which teams they want to play for. When you’re as good as Williams, you get to land on a team like the USC Trojans.

Yet, once players turn pro, their ability to have any say over where they play disappears entirely until after their rookie contract expires. And that’s if they’re even good enough to land a second NFL contract. Many players can’t.

However, not many NFL Draft prospects come as highly regarded as Williams. Some have suggested he’s the best QB to enter the NFL in at least the past four years. When you have that kind of hype, you start to have some ‘pull.’

Every year there are teams who need quarterbacks, yet sometimes, players just don’t want to play for the teams they’re drafted to. We saw it with Eli Manning back in 2004, when his camp pulled a power move to land on the New York Giants instead of the San Diego Chargers.

What if Williams did the same?

Related: NFL Reporter Sheds Light On How Teams May Perceive Caleb Williams, Potential Off-Field Questions

Could Caleb Williams Have a Specific NFL Team in Mind?

Right now, the Chicago Bears hold the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. This is a team that has never been able to develop a franchise quarterback, and while their coaches now have nothing to do with the historic misfortunes at the position in the past, a certain perception exists among some.

Then, there’s the group of pass-catchers, with D.J. Moore and Cole Kmet establishing themselves as proven playmakers, but not much else with Darnell Mooney set for free agency. Add in a coaching staff that could still be overturned in the near future, and the Bears may be perceived as a team that the USC QB isn’t exactly eager to join.

Then we have the Washington Commanders, who hold the second overall pick. Guess who’s a Washington, D.C. native? You already know, it’s Caleb Williams.

Related: 2024 NFL Mock Draft

Aside from the possibility that Williams may prefer to play for his hometown team that’s finally under new ownership and likely ready to spare no expense in pursuit of a Super Bowl trophy, his cast of receivers in Washington would be much better than Chicago currently offers.

With the Commanders, Williams would have his top two receivers locked in with Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, two players who will be under contract through at least 2025. A third receiver, Curtis Samuel, is set for free agency, but the Commanders may bring back the reliable receiver or invest one of their five picks in the top 100 selections toward another weapon. Of course, to acquire Williams, the Commanders would also have to part with something valuable, even to move up one pick.

Either way, the Commanders may be able to offer Williams both the advantage of playing close to home, while having a stronger foundation in place. After a whirlwind college football career spanning Oklahoma and USC, Williams trying to ensure he lands in a favorable scenario in the NFL could be his next big move.