Looming launch of NIL rights has some NFL agents mobilizing

In this photo illustration 100-dollar bills seen displayed
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The NFL Players Association regulates agents for the purposes of negotiating contracts with NFL teams. The NFLPA does not regulate agents for the purposes of handling marketing rights for players. That loophole could soon be creating an interesting dynamic, with several states (like Texas and Florida) poised to allow college athletes to generate revenue from their names, images, and likenesses as of July 1.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, some agents already have begun approaching college players regarding the possibility of representing them in their efforts to market themselves. Some agents, per the source, already are offering six-figure marketing guarantees to college athletes. Some players have been offered, we’re told, $500,000 as an advance on future marketing earnings.

For example, an agent will offer to represent a player for marketing purposes, and the agent will advance an exorbitant sum against which the player’s future marketing earnings are credited. For years, some agents have provided such marketing guarantees as part of the broader effort to sign players for NFL contract purposes. With NIL laws soon becoming effective in several states, agents are focusing solely on marketing deals for now, with those same guarantees.

For the agents, it provides an introduction to the players for future business dealings — specifically, their NFL contracts. If a player who remains multiple years from entering the draft hires an agent for marketing purposes, that agent already has a clear foothold for the potentially more lucrative relationships once the player turns pro.

Efforts are underway to make the NCAA, the NFLPA, and various state legislatures aware of the issue, in the hopes that rules will be promulgated in order to prevent agents from essentially funneling cash to players that will be credited against marketing earnings, and that as a practical matter will make those players more inclined to hire those agents when the window opens for entering the draft. Right or wrong, those agents will gladly fork over significant sums now under the guise of marketing advances in order to lay the foundation for representing those players when they head to the NFL.

For the agents who do it, there’s a calculated risk. The player who receives a guarantee may never realize the marketing dollars to pay it off. Likewise, the player may never become an NFL prospects who earns significant dollars through his draft position or his subsequent NFL contracts. In turn, the agents who don’t do it will operate at a real disadvantage, since the agents who make the marketing guarantees will have a clear head start on the broader business relationship.

It remains to be seen whether the various organizations with the power to oversee such transactions will do so. The NCAA may not care; as long as the players are earning money elsewhere, the inevitable reckoning for colleges that generate billions from the players’ efforts can be delayed. The NFLPA also may not care. Indeed, the union has allowed agents to use marketing guarantees as an inducement to sign draft-ready players for years.

Ultimately, it depends on whether state legislatures will get involved in the issue or, more broadly, whether the federal government will pass a law that creates a uniform set of standards regarding whether and to what extent agents can distribute significant payments to players on the promise/potential that those players will ultimately earn sufficient marketing dollars to offset the marketing guarantee — and on the hope that those players will eventually hire those agents to represent those players later.

However it plays out, it’s an unintended but hardly unforeseeable consequence of the effort to allow players to make money not from playing college sports but from capitalizing on the fame generated therefrom. Maybe the NCAA, the NFLPA, the state legislatures, and/or Congress will be fine with it. Maybe they won’t. Either way, it’s an issue that quickly is coming to the forefront, because agents are capitalizing on the ability to establish relationships with college athletes who otherwise are months if not years from otherwise being eligible to be recruited by NFL agents.

8 responses to “Looming launch of NIL rights has some NFL agents mobilizing

  1. This will be a mess,we are going to see agents buying homes for the parents of athletes,loaning money in advance to a degree that the player that doesn’t do well in the NFL won’t have any money left and probably owe! We will be more likely to see gambling problems and point shaving.

  2. If the NCAA prohibition rules hadn’t been ripping off college athletes all these years, the natural evolution of representation rights and agent’s rules & regulations would already have been developed. It’s time has come.

  3. Double edged sword. Yes, they’ll get paid. And for as much money they bring in for these schools, it’s a fair trade. It’s a real fair trade. But they also won’t remember what it was like to NOT get paid. They won’t remember what it was like to have to work their butt off for no monetary gain in order to get to the NFL. Sure, there’s motivation to make MORE money…but that’s nothing compared to the motivation to get something when you’ve never had it.

  4. I fail to see how this is an issue. It is much better for the player to have an advisor who is experienced in the area and has the necessary connections to achieve endorsements.

  5. Good or bad, NIL compensation will lead to the collapse of big-time college football with 5 years. It is impossible for the NCAA to regulate and a complete waste of time for states or the federal government to pass legislation in a futile attempt to control compensation for fair labor. College football as we know it is dead.
    The NFL needs to start planning for a full time professional minor league system right now.

  6. Prediction:Transfer Portals will be jammed in future years as players who have productive years will look to cash in and transfer to better paying schools.

  7. An 8th grader will get a seven figure shoe contract in the next 5 years. Book it.

  8. ijustateabreakfastsammich says:
    June 21, 2021 at 9:01 am
    An 8th grader will get a seven figure shoe contract in the next 5 years. Book it.

    Who cares? If an 8th grader can get a million dollar contract more power to him. Let’s not punish the talented regardless of their age.

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