The USC Trojans have been in the market for some of the top quarterbacks in the transfer portal with Caleb Williams likely headed to the NFL in 2024. If Lincoln Riley and Co. wants quarterback Cameron Ward, it will reportedly cost a staggering sum.
Ward, 6-foot-2, first transferred to Washington State before the 2022 season. In two seasons as the Cougars’ starting quarterback, Ward posted a 48-16 TD-INT ratio, completing 65 percent of his passes with nearly 7,000 passing yards.
- Cameron Ward stats 2023: 3,735 pass yards, 25-7 TD-INT, 65.1 QBR, 66.6 percent completion rate, 7.7 yards per attempt, 8 rushing touchdowns
Now, Ward is back in the transfer portal looking for an opportunity to take the next step in his career. He’s the best quarterback available, with the Miami Hurricanes, Florida State Seminoles, and Trojans among the programs pursuing him. While schematic fit and NFL development are important for Ward, money could ultimately determine where he plays.
Bruce Feldman of The Athletic shared on The Rich Eisen Show that the word around the industry is that any team that wants to land Ward in the transfer portal will need to pay around $1.5 million.
“One of the things we’re hearing is, if you want to be in the Cam Ward market, you may have to pay $1.5 million.”Bruce Feldman on the reported NIL value cost to land Cam Ward
The $1.5 million price tag may push the Trojans out of the hunt for Ward. USC already hired defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn this winter and Riley has invested significant time bringing in defensive starters from the transfer portal.
If USC ultimately drops out on Ward, the next target would be Kansas State quarterback Will Howard. The 22-year-old quarterback visited the Trojans this past week, coming just days after a prior meeting with Riley.
A second-team All-Big 12 quarterback this past season, Howard doesn’t offer nearly the same physical skills as Williams or even Ward. However, he’s a proven winner at the Power 5 level and would provide Riley with another dual-threat quarterback to execute his offense.
Amid reports of Ward being worth $1.5 million in a potential NIL deal, On3.com estimates Howard’s NIL value at just under $1 million. The financial difference between the two could matter, considering the money USC already spent this offseason and the fact that Riley is one of the highest-paid college football coaches.