Teams can’t talk to Okung during negotiating period, even though he’s his own agent


In the two-page memo circulated earlier this week by the NFL to all 32 teams regarding the rules of the looming pre-free-agency negotiating period, only one sentence was emphasized with an underline: “If a player is self-represented, clubs are prohibited from discussions with the player during the negotiating period.”

This means that Seahawks tackle Russell Okung won’t be allowed to talk to other teams until the free agency period officially opens on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Even then, it won’t be easy for Okung to get a deal done because he doesn’t really know the market or where he fits in it, especially as he recovers from shoulder surgery. And while he plans to work with the NFL Players Association and to hire a consultant on a flat fee (Okung reportedly has hired former NFL agent J.I. Halsell), there’s really no replacement for someone who has the relationships in place with all teams, knows how to determine the contours of the marketplace, and ultimately knows how to bluff (if need be) to get the best possible offer from a team that could be worried about whether another team is about to make a move.

Football players are experts in playing football. While Okung may be infatuated by the prospect of doing his own deal and avoiding a three-percent fee, he’ll never know whether the 100 percent that he finagles on his own is more or less than the 97 percent he could have gotten if he’d been represented by someone who is an expert in being an agent.

The problem is that Okung will never admit that he didn’t get as good of a deal as he could have gotten with an agent, primarily because he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Besides, he’s far too invested in proving that his unconventional decision was right that he’ll never entertain the possibility that it may have been wrong.

After studying this industry closely for 15 years, I’m willing to bet more three percent of everything I own that Okung ultimately won’t get on his own what he would have gotten if he’d hired a good, experienced, and connected agent. And I’m happy to explain that directly to Okung or any other player thinking about representing himself, for free.

At least they’ll be getting their money’s worth.

18 responses to “Teams can’t talk to Okung during negotiating period, even though he’s his own agent

  1. Inevitably, there will be people blasting the league over that rule. The league couldn’t care less about it. That rule is there because the union and agents want it, not the NFL.

  2. The man who represents himself has a fool for a client.

    I’ve had a lot of clients want to negotiate lower percentages but honestly you get what you pay for. You don’t try and negotiate with your cardiologist, why try with your lawyer. Just because you watch Suits and took a business law class in college doesn’t mean you should be representing yourself. Might as well go hire MasterP

  3. just resign with the Seahawks for 2 @ 8 million a year. You’re not “elite” and you’re not healthy.

  4. If he gets a contract that satisfies him, maybe a little extra he could have gotten with an agent really won’t matter to him.

  5. fumblenuts says:
    False starts and a glass body……DRAFT his replacement!
    Just plug Bailey in there he did fine

  6. I see player agents as more Real Estate Agent and less lawyer.

    And when I buy and sell a house I get the cheapest real estate agent and the most expensive lawyer.

    And really isn’t a player agent more real estate agent? I bet he is a player who understands the market and doesn’t want to loose out because of an agent demand. So good for him.

    Now if he doesn’t get a lawyer to review the contract he truly is a fool.

  7. For a $25 million contract (assume that’s the gteed $$$) that 3% is $750k.

    It is only in his interest to hire an agent if that gets him an extra million at the margin.

    If he is happy with say $40 mil ($25 mil gteed) over five years…Leave the guy alone.

  8. FYI: An investment bank only charges one quarter of 1% (0.25%) for any agent or placement fee.

  9. Players that represent themselves in the NBA or even MLB have an easier go at it. Their contracts are fully guaranteed so there’s less to negotiate.

    In the NFL you have to negotiate signing bonuses, guarantees and whether the guarantees are guaranteed for injury. On what day a salary for a given year becomes fully guaranteed. NFL contracts are complex monsters and even agents themselves have a number of assistants that help them keep track of all the details, NFL rules, and NFL PA rules.Okung will have to do all that while rehabbing and training for the upcoming season.

  10. Mike didn’t write this, he was merely the mouthpiece for his “unnamed source” Drew. This is nothing more than pab designed to promote agents.

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