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Payton Talks About The Undrafted Free Agent Process

Plenty of you have asked about the procedure for signing rookies after the draft.
And since some of you still think we just make stuff up (and, as far as the rest of you know, we don’t), we’ve decided to explain the system with the assistance of someone who always tells the truth all the time.
A football coach.
Saints head coach Sean Payton addressed the process on Friday in a media session after a rookie minicamp practice.
Basically, it’s like recruiting, but it isn’t.
“It’s like you have two hours where with recruiting there’s a time frame that exists for months where you can build up a relationship with a player and a coach and a family member,” Payton said.  “But when the draft ends, you’re really selling on the phone for two hours.
“Hopefully you’ve been able to make contact with a scout, maybe a prior phone call to build a relationship so when that time comes there is some familiarity with a scout or coach to bring the player to the forefront. . . .  It’s a very similar process throughout the league.  Once the draft is winding down, you’re looking at your board and getting on the phone and trying to make sure that you’re answering all of their questions.  The challenge is that the agent and the player are getting calls from five or six different teams and the challenge is making sure that that’s organized.”
At times, a team will get a given player by offering more up-front money.  But some players, like Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, will take less money if he thinks he’ll have a better chance of making the team.
“Some team might decide to pay a player $15,000 as a bonus as opposed to $5,000 and that might sway a player,” Payton said.  “The one thing I do think, though — and the agents have done a good job with this — is that they have studied closely the depth charts and tried to find the best place for their client.
“The additional five, six or seven thousand dollars really is not going to offset the opportunity to make a roster.  You’ve heard me talk about our experience in Dallas with Tony Romo, after the draft as a free agent when he had eight or nine teams calling and he took less money to come to Dallas.  I think the decision was good on his part because he looked closely at the depth chart and felt like that was a place where he had a chance to make the team.”
The reality remains, however, that even with a seven-round draft, undrafted free agents face an uphill climb.  It’s not impossible, as Romo’s experience shows.  But it ain’t easy.

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7 Responses to “Payton Talks About The Undrafted Free Agent Process”
  1. Paulitik says: May 9, 2009 2:06 PM

    Yeah, but Tony Romo sucks. He’s not worth a 7th rounder now. He should pay the NFL for the right to play. 😀

  2. rayg says: May 9, 2009 2:48 PM

    An undrafted QB gets you how many playoff wins, again? With the talent the Cowboys have had over the last 3 years, it’s inexcusable. Thanks, Jerruh. All of us in the NFC East appreciate it. Keep up the good work.

  3. jersey73 says: May 9, 2009 3:01 PM

    Work ethic is the key. Bust your ass in mini-camp, pre-season, and so on. Show you can do the little things (or anything asked.) Then, if there is an injury, step in an shine.
    It happened with the Saints three years ago with un-drafted Pierre Thomas out of Illinois. Undrafted out of college, went to the Saints, injuries gave him playing-time, and now he has some value.

  4. jbizzle99 says: May 9, 2009 4:01 PM

    I am not a cowboy fan but get off romo’s balls. he led his team to a 13-3 season which only three other teams can say in the last 2 years. People said the same about manning not winning play off games too.

  5. hay1111 says: May 9, 2009 4:40 PM

    “It happened with the Saints three years ago with un-drafted Pierre Thomas out of Illinois. Undrafted out of college, went to the Saints, injuries gave him playing-time, and now he has some value.”
    Work ethic is the huge factor in Pierre’s case because there’s nobody on the Saints roster that busted his azz more than Thomas when trying to make the team and he’s now in line to be the Saints #1 rusher this year (Bush doesn’t count b/c he does a little of everything).

  6. TheDPR says: May 9, 2009 8:44 PM

    I agree that it’s about the hard work and also the willingness to play special teams. A prima dona who thinks he’s settled at this position or that won’t do well. Do what you’re told, study hard, work hard, and make plays.
    It’s harder for a QB, probably, because you’re not going to be put on special teams, even if you’re fifth or lower on the depth chart. In a QB’s case, you just need to show that you’re smart and determined and hope for the best.

  7. mn62980 says: May 11, 2009 2:12 PM

    But I guess Lance Moore proves that having a strong work ethic and preforming exceptionally well when given the chance doesn’t always translate to teams knocking down your door come free agency. And as a Siants fan, I couldn’t be happier to have Moore still on the roster.

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