America’s Team apparently has no problem with the concept of violating America’s labor laws.
According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Media (which is a gutsy move for him since the Cowboys partially own the outlet), an unnamed agent said that the Cowboys have a reputation for trying to circumvent agents in order to deal directly with players.
Make no mistake about it: Dealing directly with players who are represented by agents violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and it violates applicable federal labor laws.
“He said that team is notorious for trying to go around the agent, going right to the player and getting the player to believe, hey, it’s better to be a Dallas Cowboy and take [less] money and be here,” Garafolo said of the unnamed agent, who has dealt with the Cowboys in the past. “He said in this case the difference is [Ezekiel Elliott] and even Dak [Prescott] and Amari Cooper, they’re not buying it. They’re actually listening to their representation. So he feels like maybe Jerry Jones is starting to get a little frustrated, because some of his old tricks aren’t working in this case. And certainly you can’t get that access as long as Ezekiel Elliott is not there, so I’m sure that that is part of the reason why Zeke didn’t show up in the first place, but why his camp doesn’t want him to show up, because they don’t want these mind games by Jerry and Stephen Jones to work on the player.”
Remember that quote whenever the question of whether players should represent themselves is raised by those players who love to raise it. As we’ve said many times before, owners would love nothing more than to be able to negotiate directly with all players, because that would allow the owners to pay less money to each and every player.
For some teams, it would mean putting a competitive team together while still keeping plenty of cap space, which if unused becomes raw, unadulterated, rare-guitar-and-or-piano-buying profit. For others, like the Cowboys, it means finding a way to hold a great team together and to ensure that the backups will be better than the late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents on which teams that pay market value to their core players must rely.
Having no agent becomes an invitation to be on the wrong end of a power play that ownership is well versed in executing. Indeed, the teams negotiate all the time. Most players have a maximum of two or three negotiations during their entire careers.