Agents plan to educate NFLPA, players about what they do

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Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung recently raised a mini-ruckus by declaring that he intends to negotiate his next contract without the services of an agent. A recent article from Tom Pelissero of USA Today throws fuel on that fire, with quotes from other players (including NFLPA president Eric Winston) regarding the ability of guys to do their own deals.

“[I]f you know what he or she knows, then what’s their value?” Giants running back and NFLPA representative Rashad Jennings told Pelissero. (Jennings has proposed that the maximum agent fees be dropped from three percent to two; that proposal is still pending.)

Per multiple league sources, the agents are now determined to show that their value extends beyond doing research on the top contracts at a given position and trading offers and counteroffers until a deal is done. An aggressive effort already has commenced to demonstrate to the NFLPA and the players what agents do.

Ultimately, the question of whether a player will use an agent is a decision that each player will have to make. But it’s a decision that needs to be made with full understanding of what it means to have an agent, and what it means to not have an agent.

In the coming days, we’ll gather some of the pros and cons that any player wrestling with that issue will have to consider.

35 responses to “Agents plan to educate NFLPA, players about what they do

  1. Not a good look that agents now have to give classes on what they’re supposed to do. Agents have been part of the sports fabric since the 70’s; maybe earlier.

  2. I look forward to a bunch of guys who admittedly didn’t pay attention to college (or in many cases high school) classes attempting to negotiate with the trained lawyers teams hire to deal with contracts. Hey, it worked for Sean Gilbert, right?

  3. I look forward to a bunch of guys who admittedly didn’t pay attention to college (or in many cases high school) classes attempting to negotiate with the trained lawyers teams hire to deal with contracts. Hey, it worked for Sean Gilbert, right?
    Relative education levels don’t really matter for coming to contract terms in this context. The standard NFL player contract language is spelled out in Appendix A of the CBA. It’s pretty much a fill in the blanks job.

  4. Agents make a great deal of sense for actors and actresses. They sift through literally thousands of potential jobs, find you work, find you auditions, give you feedback on skill sets, and help negotiate contracts.

    In the NFL, they can’t sift through thousands of potential jobs. There are only 32 possible places for a player. They can’t really find you work because out of the 32 possible jobs, there are really only a small handful of potential openings. Any casual fan can find out who is probably leaving and staying. They aren’t really going to give a player feedback on their skills because they probably have not played the game. They can give you feedback on the realism of your salary demands but the feedback is somewhat inflated because the agent wants their cut.

    All they can really do is help negotiate the finer points of a contract. An intelligent player can learn to do that.

    The question is: do they want to pay 3% of their wages for someone else to do that? If you make $10 million, are you willing to give up $300,000 for someone else to take care of business? Probably so. But if you make $1 million, then giving up 3% hurts much more.

    Some will and some won’t, just as most sellers of homes are willing to give up a real estate commission for someone else to take care of the contact negotiations.

  5. Russell Okung’s article came across as very intelligently written. I don’t know anything about him off the field other than what I read in his article about not using an agent, but that article was very reasonable.

    I’ve worked in business as both an adviser to buyers and sellers of assets and as a buyer and seller of asset myself. The advisers in assets purchases and sales fill a role similar to that of sports agent. Sometimes they give great advice and really know the market well, but other times they’re just “winging it” and just put in a lazy, half-hearted effort to collect their fee.

    A bad and lazy agent may not even tell his client that an offer is low. The agent may be too lazy to have even done the work to figure out if the offer is good or bad. A bad agent may also have conflicts of interest, such as he has another client on the same team that is higher paid, so he recommends to his other client to accept a lower offer so that the team appreciates the agent’s help and then the team makes it up to the agent with a little higher offer to the star player. That’s just one of many possible examples of how a bad agent can hurt a player.

    Sometimes it is better for the parties to speak directly instead of through an agent. Consider the case of Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees in 2007. Rodriguez ended up firing his agent, Scott Boras, for mucking up Rodriguez’s relationship with the Yankees (Rodriguez was reported to have reached out to Warren Buffett for advice, whom Rodriguez had previously met).

    For a thoughtful, well-informed player who is ready and willing to do the work, not hiring an agent and instead just hiring a lawyer to review the contract may be the best course of action. “may be” not “is always”. It is an option worth considering for players suck as Okung.

  6. For what they’re paid they protect the Player in many instances…but they won’t know that an Agent would have helped them until it’s too late.

  7. How many appeals has the NFL PA won in its entire history.

    They pocked money and ensure the NFL makes even more by convincing fans they are a real union.

  8. Contract with the agent by the hour i.e. $400 an hour. They deserve to be paid for their expertise and experience but if it takes 40 hours to get a deal done why should their pay vary based upon how good you are as a player instead of how good they are as an agent.

  9. Agents, creatures low enough to crawl under the bellies of creatures that crawl under the bellies of creatures that crawl under the bellies of snakes.

    Also found in the dictionary under: parasite

  10. I think the one thing they can offer is a good, preexisting relationship with a few or many GMs. If you have done some good deals with a party before, chances are good that they will answer that party’s call. Also, an agent may be able to offer up more creative contract ideas and solutions when there is a conflict. Not saying they are necessary in most cases, just pointing out the things they bring to the table.

  11. Didn’t Ricky Williams and Bill Parcells settle Ricky’s contracts with a talk and a handshake between two men who worked out a mutually beneficial deal?

  12. Why don’t they just show a clip from a nature documentary of a lamprey attached to a fish? The narrator could explain how the lampreys could move to another fish and back at any time.


  13. Lol. How does any of you know what an nfl agent does? It’s a lot more complicated than buying a house. How many of you didn’t use a realtor or a title loan company?

  14. I understand not needing an agent for MLB or NBA contracts. Those are straight forward and guaranteed. But for NFL contracts there are all kinds of guarantees that aren’t guarantees, grantees that only kick in if a player is on the team on a certain date, offsets, language that claws back bonus money if something happens, and the list is endless.

    A few years 49ers corner back Terell Brown lost $2 million dollars because he skipped OTA but that money was attached to his contract as a requirement to attend OTAs. He fired his agent for failing to remind him of the clause and a good agent should have done it but come on now…….he himself should have been aware of such a major clause.

    Are players really up for that responsibility?

  15. Take a $30M contract for example:

    If an agent can get you $31M instead of you getting $30M, the math says that going with the agent is smarter business. (3% commission on $30M is 900K).

    Not only are you increasing your bottom line, you’re also buying the agent’s contract skills, ridding yourself of a tremendous headache and not having to listen how worthless you are from your employer.

    There’s my pro-agent advertisement for the day. All agents should give me 1% for this message.

  16. Half of the NFL players can barely get a 10 on the Wonderlic test and you dopes are expecting them to know the intracacy of contract law and negotiation? This isn’t buying a knockoff watch on the street for $7 instead of $10.

  17. drywormdryworm says:
    Jul 22, 2015 3:35 PM

    Lol. How does any of you know what an nfl agent does? It’s a lot more complicated than buying a house. How many of you didn’t use a realtor or a title loan company?


    That’s rich.

    You do know that the realtor works for the seller not the buyer, right? So why did it make you feel good to pay that 6% of the sale to that realtor? What exactly did they do for you as a buyer? Oh yeah, they pocketed 15 large of your money Mr. Buyer, for the right to buy that $250k house.

  18. I have to laugh at the thought of a player negotiating his own deal. Can you imagine when the team GM tells the player he’s not good enough to demand the salary he seeks. Does the player turn around and punch the GM in the face? Does the player feel insulted by the offer and walk away hurt?or does he accept the low ball offer believing the BS spewed by the GM?
    Not only does an agent research the current market, he can sift through the BS coming from the GM in negotiations which the player will never do.
    Now when it comes to drafted rookies, I agree that an agent is a waste of money but a free agent looking for long term deal an agent is necessary.

  19. Who else is going to write that recycled form letter that is in perfect English with bland non-apology apology verbiage when the player is arrested for some transgression? Otherwise the player will say something incredibly stupid that everyone makes fun of or put himself at risk for liability. It’s the agent’s job to schmooze with GMs and also to get endorsements. It’s the player’s job to focus on football.

  20. Come on people we see this nonsense all the time. In Real Estate, Insurance, and many other financial contractual agreements: Do you really think you know more than a licensed, experienced professional? The more complicated and wealthy you are, the more complicated your solutions and coverage becomes. Thus, it’s more likely for a millennial to contact Flo @ Progressive than to call their neighborhood agent. They’ll also be the first ones crying foul when they find out they didn’t have proper coverage on the policy they designed themselves! HA! But for people who actually have something to lose, it makes more sense to stand on the shoulders of those who do it professionally. The 3% agent fee provides immeasurable benefit and is hard to quantify.

  21. The career of a pro football player is very short, and the window for making millions is very small. The agents/investors should charge 10% of the earnings, and continue to help them invest their money for the rest of their lives. If the agents/investment firms continue to get 10%, it will be worth their while to make good investments for the retired players. The players that give 10% will end up with much more money in the long run, than those who keep 100% of their salary but go broke five years after retirement. A handful of NFL players were raised and educated in a way that they don’t need these services, but the majority of the players didn’t come from households where there was an abundance of good financial knowledge or sound advice.

  22. Players need agents when they first declare for the draft. The agent foots the bill for all training for the combine. The agent foots the bill for all housing , spending money, auto and other such things while the player is training for the combine. For the high rated players they even foot the bill for suits and watches and such to attend the draft. Yes there are experienced players smart enough to handle contracts down the road. But there is, like it or not, a large sector of players that simply are not smart enough or energetic enough to handle even a simple contract like any other business there are good agents, so so agents and putz agents.

    I see a need for the players needing guidance but I agree they need too lower their fees. One hint of good agents are those that do not do radio shows or give opinion to the press and media. The better agents for NFL players are never seen or heard by the general public.

  23. Good move. The agents provide a service, but it costs a fortune.

    A few percent doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up to many millions of dollars that the players are also paying taxes on before paying their agent.

    This would also lessen the risk of an agent having motives not in the players best interest, which happens quite often. True, WHEN the player finds out, they can fire their agent, but often times they find out AFTER something negatively impacts them.

    Jerry Maguire would be proud.

    Plus getting the players more involved in their own affairs teaches them something, and that might help them understand their finances a bit better, and hopefully mean that fewer of them blow through lifetimes of money in a decade or less and final for bankruptcy.

    The other question is, how much does the union want for this new service? If it’s no additional fee, then that would be awesome. If it’s a very, very, very small additional fee, then that would be acceptable.

    Besides, no one is saying you can’t have an agent for various things, like endorsements and appearances and stuff.

    Taking responsibility for your own actions, and learning some valuable knowledge is a good thing people.

  24. Forgot. The player does reimburse the agent for any and all money that was spent on the things I mentioned the players do before they sign a contract on top of the 3% fee

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