Thursday, a longtime friend from one of the top agencies in the business asked me to list recent players who had gone through the draft process without an NFLPA-licensed contract advisor. When I asked if he’d come across a player in the ’19 class who was weighing whether or not to hire representation, he demurred. His firm was just “getting its ducks in order,” he texted. Fair enough.
Anyway, I came up with five names of recent agent-less draftees. They were, in order of draft class, Florida SS Matt Elam (2013), Miami (Fla.) OT Ereck Flowers, Louisville TE Gerald Christian (2015), N.C. State QB Jacoby Brissett and Louisville QB Lamar Jackson.
Today in our Friday Wrap, we take a detailed look at all five (plus one more who almost went without an agent, but hired one late) and try to determine if their decisions to skip an agent helped or hurt on draft day. However, whether or not they were better off on draft day, there are common threads among them.
- All five played played high school or college ball in the Miami area. Elam, Christian and Brissett went to the same high school (William T. Dwyer in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.).
- The lion’s share of them are offensive players, and two are quarterbacks. It’s probably no surprise that touchdown-scorers come to think of themselves as needing less help, and that may be at work here.
- All of them played in the ACC or SEC (Brissett played in both, having transferred to N.C. State from Florida), and all of them were heavily recruited. When you’re used to being in demand and commanding the spotlight, it’s easy to believe there’s a market for you, no matter what you do. It’s no surprise you don’t hear of many small-school offensive linemen skipping out on an agent.
- Though it’s difficult to know exactly how much money they made or lost in the draft, it’s fair to say most of them could have made more money in marketing with professional representation (and some of them did hire marketing firms though not contract advisors). I heard consistently this winter that shoe and apparel companies were frustrated in their inability to get call-backs from Jackson’s people.
- Often, those who don’t have an agent initially get one eventually, especially if their NFL fortunes take a dip. Though Brissett remains without an agent, Flowers is now co-repped by Miami Beach, Fla.-based Rosenhaus Sports and his father. Christian has been in and out of the league over the last couple years and hired Huntington, W.Va.-based Rich Sports to help find him opportunities. For Jackson, it’s too early to tell what course his career will take, and it’s unknown if Elam has a CFL agent now that he’s playing for Saskatchewan.
- Could it be having an agent has a settling effect during a player’s career? Most of those who pass on agents cite the lack of a need for one during the draft process, but as veterans, most have had up-and-down careers. Elam is playing in the CFL, Christian is out of the league, Flowers is having a rocky time in New York, and Brissett is a backup and on his second team.
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UPDATE: A reader reminded us that there was actually one we forgot since 2013: Stanford DC Alex Carter, who went 3/80 to the Lions in 2015. Alex is a little bit of an anomaly, as he isn’t from Florida (he’s from Virginia), didn’t play offense (he’s a cornerback) and didn’t come from a major East Coast conference (Pac-12). He relied on his father, former NFL DB Tom Carter, to guide him through the draft process. Like many others, however, when his career stalled, he hired an established firm (Priority Sports) to help him reconnect.