NFLPA looking into Cowboys’ direct dealing with players

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On Wednesday, NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo pointed out a dynamic that the Dallas Cowboys haven’t tried all that hard to hide: Their propensity for cutting out the middleman and dealing directly with players who are represented by agents.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL Players Association views the situation as “not good,” and currently is doing its due diligence before taking any official action and/or issuing any formal statement.

It won’t be hard for the union to piece together evidence. On Wednesday, owner Jerry Jones essentially confessed to 105.3 the Fan in Dallas that the Cowboys like to cut out the middleman whenever and however they can.

“[T]hat’s always been the issue with me and my approach to managing the Cowboys,” Jerry Jones said, via Jon Machota of TheAthletic.com. “When you cut out the people in between the money and the player, we all know that agents, attorneys have their agenda. By the way, they are all taking money out of the pie too when they’re there. The straighter it goes from the source to the one receiving it, nine times out of 10 that’s more efficient.”

Ten times out of 10 that’s better for the team, which would love to be able to run roughshod over players who don’t have agents protecting their interests. And it surely seems as if the Cowboys routinely go straight to the player to get deals done.

Consider this comment from Cowboys COO Stephen Jones at the camp-opening press conference regarding the team’s ability to work out a deal with defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence: “We sat there forever and then all of a sudden, we had a good little visit with DeMarcus and things happened like quickly. Inside of like 24 hours you’re home.”

That’s likely one of the reasons why running back Ezekiel Elliott is holding out. If he’s not in camp, the Joneses can’t put the squeeze on him. And they have no choice but to deal with his agent, Rocky Arceneaux.

Which they’d rather not do. Which is the best evidence of the value of having a good agent. And perhaps conclusive evidence that the Cowboys are taking liberties that the NFLPA will be compelled to challenge.

65 responses to “NFLPA looking into Cowboys’ direct dealing with players

  1. Sports agents don’t care about the players they represent, only the dollars they can extort from the player by representing them.

  2. If I’m not mistaken Jerry doesn’t sign for the players. If a player agrees to a deal without his agent then that’s something that should be worked out between the player and the agent. Any penalty from talking directly to the player cant be too bad if the Jones talk about it so openly.

  3. should be a 500,000 fine and a loss of 1rst round pick. nfl should suspend jones for at least a season too. extremely aggregious violation

  4. T]hat’s always been the issue with me and my approach to managing the Cowboys,” Jerry Jones said

    ———————————–

    4 total playoff wins from the 1996-2018 seasons, How’s that for proper management of the Cowboys. The FACTS don’t lie.

  5. Ain’t gonna happen with Rocky & Marshall. These Louisiana Gentlemen have it under control. Thank’s for helping Marshall get to SDSU Rocky. Go Aztecs!! #21? Stir up your finger (again) You’re about to be paid.

  6. Those of you who oppose this apparently don’t comprehend the concept of representation. I guess it’s an easy stance to take until you get maimed in an accident, then you better be cool with the insurance company excluding your attorney from settlement negotiations.

  7. “Ten times out of 10 that’s better for the team, which would love to be able to run roughshod over players who don’t have agents protecting their interests.”

    Yes, trying to make a player the second highest paid at his position sure is running roughshod over that player.

  8. If players didn’t have agents, they wouldn’t have to pay them a percentage of their salaries. So, when Jerry says he will give you 35 million guaranteed, the player would be able to keep it all without having to pay an agent.

  9. So based on the comments here workers shouldn’t have unions to protect their interests and negotiate bargaining agreements after all the unions just want your dues

  10. Punishment is unlikely given that the man who would dole out the punishment Aka Goodell was hired and is paid by the owners. Its like HR in real life. They aren’t there for you. They are there for the company.

  11. I’ve always wondered how the Cowboys signed a then young and promising LT to a 9 year contract…9 years!!…it made no sense from Smith’s point of view…I knew something shady happened there…and they took advantage of him behind the agents back…

  12. My guess is that this is what happened anytime you see a player fire his agent, hire a new one, then immediately sign a new contract. If you think the Cowboys are the only team guilty of this, you aren’t paying attention.

  13. John Henry’s Hammer says:
    August 28, 2019 at 8:54 pm
    D144zzz… why start at 96 go a bit further back…. agree or not he has managed 3 Super Bowl teams…
    ——————————–

    All true Cowboy fans know Jerry Jones was just riding the coat tails of what Jimmy Johnson
    did. IT’s when Jerry decided to take full control of the team and the results, well that’s
    history. Jerry should of stuck to signing checks and the marketing of the team.

  14. So after Zeke’s agent (you KNOW that who this is coming from) putting this out there effect negotiations? How bout when the the NFLPA asks Dak if they tried the same thing with him, and he says yes? (because of course they did)

    I’m wondering on both sides. Do the cowboys try to play hardball to penalize them? Do the players play hardball because they know the cowboys are going to lose a pick (and a chance to replace them)?

    Always fun in jerruh world

  15. alongthegulf says:
    August 28, 2019 at 8:42 pm
    Agents are like dealing with lawyers. Is it truly your best interest they focus on, or theirs?

    ___________

    In most cases, they are the same thing. Unless you are saying the agent should consider how well the team can play other guys, which seems exactly the opposite of what they should be doing. The more money an agent gets a player, the more money the agent gets himself, and that includes the imaginary “outside money” that apparently gets paid to players for being Cowboys.

    The same is basically true of lawyers (except litigation attorneys, who are in fact leeches). If they win, they make more money going forward. If you are a defense attorney, and all your clients are getting a max sentence, you won’t get many more clients.

  16. Does everyone here really think the Cowboys are the only team doing this? Circumventing agents has been going on since agents first appeared on the scene. Now, maybe the Cowboys partake of the practice more often than most teams but make no mistake–they’re all doing it. The NFLPA should have put a stop to it long ago if it was such a big deal but their success at the end of the day is tied to the NFL’s success. Personally, I have no problem with it if teams are getting away with this. Much bigger problems for the union and the league to deal with nowadays.

  17. IMO, it’s too bad that too many of the players seem to forget that the agent works for them, not the other way around. They should take control more, or at least keep themselves informed, of the negotiations. And they should step in and tell the agent they want a deal done, period – provided that is really what the player wants. I do not doubt there are cases where the player has told his agent he wants to be the highest paid at his position, so that is what the agent is trying to do. But too many times you read quotes where the player just says “I’m going to leave all that contract stuff up to my agent” and they do not seem to be active at all in determining their own future.

  18. “why start at 96 go a bit further back…. agree or not he has managed 3 Super Bowl teams…”

    It’s widely known that Jimmy Johnson put together those Super Bowl teams, not Jerry Jones.

  19. The talk about agents not caring about their players is nonsense. Agents care more about their players than the NFL teams care about those very same players. Owners don’t like the agents because the agent puts their client first, instead of the team.

  20. Look maybe Jerry and Co. are crossing some technical lines here and there, but let’s be real. Are Cowboy’s players being underpaid? Absolutely not. Lawrence got $105m with $65 guaranteed! The Cowboys are not trying to screw Zeke. They’re trying to give him a very good contract while also having other big names to sign and keep the team together. There is this thing called a salary cap. The letter of the law is not the same as the spirit of the law, and on this one I side with Jerry. Agents are advising their client to take absolutely the most money possible and do anything to get it. That’s fine. That is their job. But how many times do you think an agent gives their client the real deal info about the salary cap and the broader picture? Rarely I’m sure.

  21. If players didn’t have agents, they wouldn’t have to pay them a percentage of their salaries. So, when Jerry says he will give you 35 million guaranteed, the player would be able to keep it all without having to pay an agent.
    ——-
    Except the agent can sue and win if they can prove they got you most of the way to that $35 million via their negotiations. Which is exactly what’s happening with Zion Williamson.

  22. Not against the rules to deal directly with players that are free agents or under contract. Agents are reps of the players and like lawyers, can be be dismissed or excluded by the player. Not a thing one the NFLPA or the league can do about it.

  23. If this were a real issue, there’d be tons of complaints by agents and attorneys lodged with the NFLPA or the league against the Cowboys.

    But there’s nothing apart from some attention-grabbing headlines.

  24. Who needs structured representation or, perish the thought, union support when negotiating with powerful corporate organizations. Everyone knows powerful organizations always deal fairly with individuals and would never abuse the almost total power advantage they hold over the individual.
    Having effectively demonized unions in this country to the point where organized labor has little or no influence over establishing compensation levels for American workers, the corporate power structure has made sure that wage and salary growth has kept pace with inflation. Ask anybody.

  25. suncawy says:
    August 28, 2019 at 8:55 pm
    If players didn’t have agents, they wouldn’t have to pay them a percentage of their salaries. So, when Jerry says he will give you 35 million guaranteed, the player would be able to keep it all without having to pay an agent.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________

    While agents do represent their clients during contract negotiations, there are way more parts to being an agent. They are looking over the legal language of the contract, trying to get the player endorsement deals, as well as being a PR person for the player. They’re not only working during contract years.

    Players do not have to hire an agent. It’s smart of them to do that though.

  26. You say 10/10 better for the agent, and I don’t pretend to understand all the law that goes into it, but it does seem to me if agents aren’t getting a cut of the contract then more of that gets to go to the players….but this is me assuming that agents get paid a percent base of the contract and not a flat fee.

  27. jacunn2000 says:
    August 29, 2019 at 7:50 am
    So you are saying the players are not quite smart enough to make their own decisions?

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    Respectfully, it’s a different kind of “smart.” Just like an agent may be able to recognize and Cover 2 Weak Side Blitz, a player may not recognize some of the verbiage in a contract. The agent’s emphasis is on getting the most for their client, be it contract with an owner or endorsements. The player’s emphasis is on the field and being successful on the field, in order to garner large contracts and endorsements, among other things.

    There may be some players that could handle that, but they are few and far between. That’s why they pay the agents.

  28. The player has to agree to speak with the leadership without his agent. Dont act like the owners are threatening the players to have a one-on-one conversation. The conversation is helpful to both sides because like any story told through a filter the narrative changes. The agent has the power to add or with hold information from either side that could hinder an agreement for his own personal gain. He has a stake in it as well just like everyone else so dont think that his personal agenda doesnt come into play.

  29. Not sure how this can be “looked into.” The team can obviously talk to their employee so it’s on the player to tell them “Sorry, you need to talk to may agent about that.”

  30. Kelly Arvin says:
    August 28, 2019 at 8:10 pm
    Sports agents don’t care about the players they represent, only the dollars they can extort from the player by representing them.

    True yet its still better for the player to use the agent in negotiations with management. Some people think its just a matter of here’s the money we want to pay you, player says ok, and boom done. There’s so much more that goes into it. First, the agent is trained in the art of negotiation. They are by their very nature emotionless. They don’t care of the team has other guys they want to pay, when it comes to the stars it’s all about that guy they are representing. As already mentioned, players are emotional. They are by their very nature, loyal. They want to make money but also make their coaches happy. That’s why agents exist. To protect the player from his own nature. So while yes the agent is a money hungry pain in the butt, they also are very good at what they do which is keep their players well paid. This isn’t the other 3 major sports we’re talking about here. In the NFL you may have only 1 shot, for those not named QB, to earn a great contract. If you let owners chip away at the player-agent dynamic, all that does is empower ownership even more and in this sport trust me that is not a good thing for the NFLPA.

  31. Eh…Im an Eagles fan. I love when the Cowboys get busted on stuff, but to me this is a non issue. If a grown man agrees to a contract, so be it. I don’t care if they went behind the agents back. That’s on the player, not on the team if you ask me.

    Don’t think they should be punished in any way really.

  32. John Henry’s Hammer says:
    August 28, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    D144zzz… why start at 96 go a bit further back…. agree or not he has managed 3 Super Bowl teams…
    ________________________
    “Managed”

    Didn’t take long to find a myopic Dallas fan that just HAS to made an example of.

    When you want to compare Jerry’s “Cowboys” and Jimmy’s “Cowboys”, it’s not even in the same solar system.

    Let me know when you want to compare player personnel ( and the means to aquire them whether from trade/draft/FA) from ’89 to ’93 and from ’94 to WHENEVER.

    Any owner can pay talent. That’s what owners do. But getting it is another story.

    Jerry can’t even take credit for Romo. That was Bill Parcells! LOL

  33. Why is this so surprising? Everyone knows there are two sets of rules in this world – one set for Jerry and one set for the rest of us

  34. A player should have counsel review contracts and that is best done by an agent that is also an attorney. However the team can talk direct to any contracted player.

  35. What exactly is the issue? The clubs are not permitted to negotiate with an agent/player representative that is not certified by the NFLPA. The CBA authorizes individual players to negotiate on their own behalf and I could find no mandate in the CBA requiring the NFL to negotiated solely with an identified player representative. It seems to me that if there is an issue it is between the agent/player or agent/NFLPA and not with the league or individual clubs. In the link, Florio stated it violates the CBA but he did not cite a paragraph. I’m not saying it isn’t in some other agreement but it does not seem to be within the CBA itself. Again, if so, what is the issue with a team and player coming to an agreement?

  36. I am not sure what the rulebook says so I will leave that up to the Internet lawyers on this website. But the bottom line is this, Jerry Jones is his own worst enemy so when he or anyone of the other 31 teams in the NFL begins to screw up in a big way, its best to step aside and don’t interrupt them.

  37. yetipro says:
    August 28, 2019 at 8:24 pm
    Aren’t all of the players adults?

    —————-
    Contrary to those giving you up votes, history has actually proven that, no, many of them are not truly adults (outside of chronological age), and are not at all capable of taking care of themselves, much less their financial future.

  38. Some of us remember the days before agents when all the owners cared about was making the players happy and were concerned with their well being above all else.

  39. If agents and attorneys have the players best interests as most important, why are so many former professional athletes go bankrupt?

  40. Jones successfully lobbied for himself to get into the HOF and you can’t tell me they didn’t know about this kind of nonsense he pulls.
    Pat Bowlen has to wait until he was dead to get in and we never heard anything but good things about him. Not pushing people out of the way to get in front of the camera.
    I still remember Jerry grabbing the super bowl trophy out of his head coaches hands because he thinks he is the reason they won.
    I can imagine the kind of uncomfortable atmosphere he creates with players to strong arm them into doings deals without proper representation.
    Agents may suck but they are the only way for players to be treated fairly

  41. If it is in the CBA that Jerry and Stephen cannot cutout an agent when negotiating contracts and they are doing that then it is a NLRB issue, the NFL owners would care only because they would have full access to investigate at least the Cowboys, but may also include the rest of the league and NFL league office. To that point it would be in the best interest of the other owners and protection of the shield along with new CBA talks to force Jerry to sell the Cowboys. Not to mention, if Jerry is found to have violated the NLRA their would be a small fine (for him) but he may be forced to pay many players more money (may affect the cap) and pay any previous players that were coerced into a unfavorable contracts.

    It is a world of hurt the NFL owners would like to avoid so the other owners will call on Roger to punish the Cowboys or force him to sell.

  42. Let the NFLPA look all they want. I back Jerry Jones 100% on the way he deals with his players. He has the stones to tell them we’re not going to be forced into paying you more than you’re worth.
    I wish other owners would do that, too.
    I dislike the Cowboys and everything about them, but I have to stand with Jerry Jones against guys like Elliott.
    Hold the line, Jerry!!!!!

  43. twinfan24 says:
    August 29, 2019 at 1:58 pm
    yetipro says:
    August 28, 2019 at 8:24 pm
    Aren’t all of the players adults?

    —————-
    Contrary to those giving you up votes, history has actually proven that, no, many of them are not truly adults (outside of chronological age), and are not at all capable of taking care of themselves, much less their financial future.

    —————————————————————————————–

    If they didn’t waste their time in college, maybe they’d be smart enough to know how to handle their finances!!!!
    These players are adults!! They have the opportunity to get the best advisors money can by!!
    The problem is, they have grown up in this “everyone-gets-a-trophy” coddling mentality that prevails in this 21st century millennial society we all live in!
    They are 25 years old, going on 15!!

  44. Lol I was trying to explain this to a coworker earlier. Jerry knows exactly what he’s doing by talking to the player one-on-one. The player has no idea what’s in their best interest monetarily, Jerry knows that and sees it as a loophole to take advantage during negotiations. It’s brilliant to be honest. He spent his whole life selling salt to slugs.

  45. Anyone feel Lawrence got a bad deal? 5/105 65M Guaranteed. Not sure how much Lawrence left on the table. Agents in the NFL get 3%…for doing very little. I could have negotiated the same deal for Lawrence and I would have asked for only 1% :).

    Step one find similar player and recent contract
    Step two adjust a few numbers in the contract to best fit the market value of your client
    Step three have attorney scrub agreement for any nuances in CBA (if changed since contract that was compared)

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