The floodgates are open, and plenty of people are going to be trying to get a drink.
Amid concerns that agents certified by the NFLPA to represent players for pro football contracts may use an NIL relationship to lay the foundation for a future NFL relationship, the NFLPA has provided very general guidance to the agents it regulates.
In an email sent to all contract advisors, a copy of which PFT has obtained, the NFLPA explains that agents “are permitted to enter into NIL marketing agreements with a college player, which agreements are not generally the subject of the NFLPA’s Regulations.”
“However, under the Regulations, it is the [agent’s] responsibility to monitor and ensure that they are in full compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, as well as NCAA rules that impact the player’s eligibility,” the email states. “Further, any NIL contracts entered into with college players by a Contract Advisor should be wholly separate from any future Contract Advisor services involving the negotiation of player contracts with NFL teams; for example, an NIL contract should not include any terms that require or condition any NIL terms on the player later hiring that Contract Advisor for NFL contract services.”
The concern that ha been raised by some agents isn’t that an NIL agreement will include an express term requiring the player to hire the agent for the player’s NFL contract. The concern is that devices like marketing guarantees will be used to funnel immediate cash to the player, as part of a broader wink-nod arrangement that goes a long way toward setting the stage for the eventual deal. The fact that the NFLPA has not expressly prohibited marketing guarantees creates a loophole that would allow the agent to give a college player a significant advance on future NIL rights, with that advance potentially helping get the eventual representation agreement for NFL contract purposes signed.
As one agent put it, the union “punted” on the thorny issue of marketing guarantees. As other agents may put it, “Let’s go spend some money now to make more money later.”