For football agents, the Russell Okung contract debacle couldn’t have come at a better time.
As the true Okung details are being disseminated and digested, and as the initial (false) reports of a deal worth $10.6 million per year and “up to” $12 million annually are being disregarded, the NFL Players Association is meeting in Hawaii. Per multiple sources, the agenda includes consideration of agent fees.
Specifically, the NFLPA could be voting on whether to reduce agent fees from a maximum of three percent to a limit of two percent. Some agents are very nervous, and rightfully so, about the possibility of having their revenue slashed by 33 percent. Others are confident that the discussion won’t result in change.
“There are too many smart people in the room for the fee to be reduced,” one agent remarked to PFT on Friday.
Already, NFL agents have the lowest maximum fees in all professional sports. Baseball agents can earn up to five percent. Hockey and basketball agents max out at four percent. For tennis and golf, agents can make over 10 percent. And the industry standard for actors, musicians, and broadcasters is a whopping 10 percent.
For Okung, he paid zero percent to go it alone. It’s hard to imagine based on the quality of the deal that he wouldn’t have fared better with a competent agent having experience negotiating with teams, understanding the market, creating opportunities, and ultimately knowing not to sign a contract that gives the team so much power over a player’s short-term and long-term interests, with little or no financial certainty in return.
Of course, there are plenty of bad agents who would have negotiated a deal equal to or not much better than the one Okung negotiated on his own. The problem for all players is that, by reducing maximum fees to two percent, the good agents eventually will find something else to do with their time — like, for instance, representing baseball players, basketball players, hockey players, tennis players, golfers, actors, musicians, and/or broadcasters.