Linebacker Bobby Wagner recently signed a new contract with the Seahawks. Without a traditional adviser to represent his interests, Wagner got advice from plenty of people. Including a fairly well-known basketball player.
“You have to lean on people, you have to ask people,” Wagner told reporters on Sunday. “There are certain people that I talked to. You know I’m with the Jordan Brand. It’s cool, I can talk to Mike and he can give me his advice because he owns a team. I asked his advice.
“I asked different people’s advice and how they would look or feel if a player came and try to do his deal, what are you looking for, what do you expect a player not to know, what you want him to know. You just ask that, ask these questions, try to get as much experience as possible or as much knowledge as possible and hope it turns out for the best.”
Wagner explained that his decision to handle the negotiations on his own came in large part from a desire to eliminate a third person to whom the team would criticize Wagner’s skills in order to justify offering him less.
“I didn’t want them to say all the bad things to the agent,” Wagner said. “I wanted them to say it to my face. I can take it. Especially nowadays, you have Twitter and you got somebody telling you you’re trash every day. It can’t be worse than Twitter. As long as they don’t go outside of that, we’re good, at least I could see their face. [With] Twitter, I can’t see their face.”
Helping Wagner’s cause, as one league insider explained it to PFT, is the fact that there isn’t much bad that can be said. Wagner is regarded as the best inside linebacker in the game. So the negotiation basically entailed taking C.J. Mosley‘s contract with the Jets and pumping up the annual average.
Another source explained that the negotiations essentially consisted of Wagner meeting with the team, taking breaks to calls his lawyer and other advisers, and then re-entering the room to continue the negotiations. While that was the right decision for Wagner, it’s not the right decision for every player.
When making the decision, the last reason for doing so should be avoidance of the agent’s fee, because a good agent will typically get more than the contract and his percentage (a maximum of three percent), likely putting the player ahead of the game without having to enter an arena where he may feel intimidated or inadequate. Having a knowledgeable third party will serve as protection against a team’s temptation to take advantage of a player who doesn’t understand the nuances of the process, ensuring that the right structure is used, preventing a situation where the NFL Players Association would have to approach the team to soften the terms of a grossly team-friendly contract that was negotiated directly with the player and not through an agent.