Lamar Jackson continues to be a tough guy to track down

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Quarterback Lamar Jackson continues to be one of the biggest puzzles of the 2018 draft, due in part to the fact that Jackson doesn’t have an agent. Because he doesn’t have an agent, some teams continue to have a hard time getting in touch with him to arrange pre-draft visits and/or workouts.

Per a league source, one team tried at least seven times to contact Jackson. The team in question wasn’t able to reach him, and the team as of earlier on Thursday had not heard back from him.

And make no mistake about it — Jackson has decided to go without an agent simply because he believes that there’s nothing for an agent to do when the time comes to negotiate a contract.

“I know coming in as a rookie, an agent doesn’t really negotiate anything,” Jackson told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “You’re going to get the salary you’re going to get. I decided I don’t need him. He’s going to be taking a big cut out of my paycheck . . . and I feel I deserve it right now.”

It’s a horribly short-sighted and ill-informed decision, overlooking the fact that a good agent can get a player drafted higher than he otherwise would have been drafted, and paid more than he otherwise would have been paid. As part of this effort, a good agent can fend off the efforts of other agents to promote their own clients while knocking other players. (And, yes, that happens all the time.)

A good agent also can handle external threats to a player’s draft fortune. When Bill Polian was pushing the notion that Jackson should switch to receiver, a good agent could have tracked down Polian, explained to Polian that Jackson would not be moving to receiver, and politely asked Polian to knock it off. (And if politely didn’t work, a good agent would have handled the situation impolitely.)

Not surprisingly, Richard Sherman (whose decision to represent himself wasn’t an isolated lark but part of a crusade to wipe out agents altogether) supports Jackson’s decision, claiming that “in terms of improving his draft stock or the amount of money [Jackson] receives, there isn’t much they can do.” All due respect, that’s just not accurate — and it reveals that Sherman simply doesn’t understand what good agents do to help their clients get drafted as high as possible and, in turn, get paid as much as possible.

Here’s a quick summary of the things a good agent can do for a rookie, as posted previously in other PFT items regarding rookies choosing to go it alone.

First, despite the relative simplicity of the rookie wage scale, players selected in the first round need to be able to navigate certain nuances and hot spots in the draft order relevant to offset language, guaranteed pay, cash flow, and other structural devices.

Second, a good agent will get the rookie the best possible pre-draft training, ensuring that the player is ready for the various aspects of the pre-draft workouts that follow, and a good agent will cover those expenses.

Third, a good agent will prepare the player for the Wonderlic test, boosting his score to something higher than it otherwise would have been. (Whatever Jackson’s score was — and we’ll post none of them here — having a good agent wouldn’t have made it worse and likely would have made it better.)

Fourth, a good agent will advise the player on whether and to what extent to engage in Scouting Combine activities, and whether and to what extent to engage in pre-draft team visits and private workouts. A good agent will prepare the player regarding what to say and how to say it when meeting with teams. A good agent will serve as the buffer between the player and teams that may not be happy to hear that, for example, the player won’t be visiting the facility or throwing privately for its coaching staff.

Fifth, a good agent can help the player establish a network of mentors and advisors who will help prepare him for the draft and for life in the NFL. Recently, former NFL fullback Michael Robinson took to Twitter to plead with Jackson to get in touch with Robinson so that others with a skill set similar to Jackson’s can help him. If Jackson had an agent, Robinson and those hoping to help Jackson would quickly be able to connect with Jackson, through the agent.

Sixth, a good agent will study rosters and depth charts and coaching staffs and schemes, identifying the best destination for the player’s short-term and long-term interests and embark on a plan to get him there.

Seventh, a good agent will sell his client relentlessly, working scouts, coaches, owners, and media to make the players as desirable as possible.

Eighth, a good agent will try to thread the needle, getting the player in the best spot to thrive. For some players, it’s not about getting drafted as high as possible; it’s about getting drafted in the right spot. A good agent can help make that happen. By having no agent, the player is rolling the dice.

And what’s it really worth to avoid paying agent fees? In 2017, pick No. 15 received a $12.6 million contract, fully guaranteed. Pick No. 17 received a $11.596 million contract, fully guaranteed.

The total difference between No. 15 and No. 17: $1.004 million. The total fee paid by the 15th pick, at a maximum rate of three percent: $378,000.

So if an agent could get Jackson drafted by the Cardinals (who need a quarterback) at No. 15 instead of the Chargers (who need a quarterback) at No. 17, the contract value arising from two-spot difference would pay the entire fee, with more than $600,000 left over.

Sherman is going to continue to believe what he believes, for reasons that perhaps only he knows. The truth continues to be that good agents provide a valuable service to their clients. It’s abundantly clear that Jackson would have benefited from those services, and that those services may have paid for themselves, and then some.

23 responses to “Lamar Jackson continues to be a tough guy to track down

  1. On one hand Rosenhaus convinced the Bills to draft Willis Mcgahee in the 1st round knowing full well he would miss his entire rookie season.

    On the other hand, Christian Hackenberg has an agent too and he hasn’t played one snap in the NFL and is about to get cut.

  2. If I was an NFL team I would look at him as non caring in 2 ways. #1-He couldn’t care less about letting teams meet with him, showing he is above the team, and #2-it is all about me, me, me, which no team or locker room is going to want that. He is hurting himself bigtime.

  3. I can’t disagree with any of this. I would add that I would question this kid’s “coachability.” Independence is admirable, but this seems a bad time for it.

  4. Whatever Lamar does, it seems to end up working in his favor. First of all, he obviously isn’t interested in playing for the team that called him 6 or 7 times without getting an answer. Secondly, the news getting out gives him a lot more cachet with the other teams. Especially if he did return their call. They’ll be thinking, wow, someone really wants this guy, but it looks like he’d rather play for us. Moves him up a round or two on their board.

  5. Florio why don’t you offer to be his agent? And your only payment in return is his appearance on your show every week!

    You’re welcome.

  6. NBA rookies are essentially slotted salary wise and fully guaranteed. There are no mine fields like guaranteed for injury, offsets, etc. I can see an NBA rookie going without an agent but even most of them will get an agent for endorsement deals etc. NFL contracts are too cut throat and teams are too ruthless to go at it alone.

  7. Leave the man alone it’s his choice and his life. People always think they know what’s best for others while they live their own mistake filled lives.

  8. Sometimes it’s just better to leave it to the pros, unless you are willing to take the time to understand and become vested in contract negotiations. If there is a contract that needs no agent it would be the rookie contract as it is fiod the most part, slotted. I see Jackson’s point but I can’t help and cringe about him not returning calls to teams, it’s just unprofessional and doesn’t guarantee said team still isn’t gonna draft him. There is only so much you can do to ci to where you go but avoiding potential suitors is not the way to go.

  9. Someone get Sam Bradford’s agent on line 1!!! Jackson will be picked 1st overall. lol

    I’m with Jackson, as a drafted rookie in the first couple rounds…. I don’t see much upside in hiring an agent. If I’m not willing to call the browns or jets back, I’m willing to accept that not playing for one of those teams could result in a loss of $$$ based on draft position. Drafted QBs to each of those teams are likely not to make it anyways.

    Browns QB’s picked since 2010: Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Johnny Manziel, Cody Kessler, Deshone Kizer.

    Jets Qbs drafted; Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Geno Smith, Tajh Boyd, Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg

  10. If nothing else Lamar Jackson is a BB type of QB off the field. He’s making headlines for not making headlines.

    Well done Lamar. I’m rooting for you.

  11. Or maybe, just maybe, the kid wants to be drafted based on his play – not what some snake oil salesman is peddling on his behalf. And who knows, maybe he is grounded enough to handle the sudden wealth that comes with a first round pick… I’m just thinking that there are probably a few of us on this site that have gone out to get a job without a headhunter doing all the grunt work ahead of time… Different scale, but same issues.

  12. So if an agent could get Jackson drafted by the Cardinals (who need a quarterback) at No. 15 instead of the Chargers (who need a quarterback) at No. 15

    How do both the chargers and cardinals have the 15th pick? Is that something a good agent does as well?

    All you’re saying is a “good agent” is a rah rah guy. Not needed.

  13. Another worthless fake QB. His coverage this offseason will be longer than his career actually playing for a professional team with players over four foot tall.

  14. The QB is supposed to be the leader to the team. One of many qualities a strong leader should have is recognizing when they need to seek council/help. This guy’s proving that is not is not a quality he possesses.

  15. If I was an NFL team I’d select him earlier knowing I could sign him without having to haggle until September over offset language and guaranteed money.

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