The escalating costs of training draft prospects, along with even the lowest-ratest players’ expectations of training, has made the business of being an NFL agent an expensive proposition. There are a few ways of handling this without writing big checks.
The first way is to refuse to pay for training. There’s one big agent from the Midwest who represents several head coaches at big FBS schools, and he continually gets his coaching clients to (a) recommend him for representation and (b) encourage the players to train at the school, not at a combine prep facility. This works very well for the agent, but 99 percent of agents don’t have that kind of a coaching clientele. For the rest of the business, having a ‘no training’ strategy pretty much relegates an agent to the lowest of the lowest-rated clients, the longest of the long shots. Constantly going to bat for such players can be trying and can kill your credibility with the scouts and team officials.
A second way to deal with this is to offer to pay a set fee. You can call this a ‘stipend’ or a ‘signing bonus’ or an ‘allotment’ or whatever you want to call it. Your client can then apply it to his training, or to a place to live, or to nutrition, or whatever. What you often find in the business is that players take the cost of training for granted, and give their contract advisors very little credit for covering this. What they really want is something in their pockets. If you go this route, you’ve fixed your costs while also asking the player to take part in managing finances. Like the first strategy, this one is going to limit the prospects you can sign, but it’s also going to keep you from blowing through an unlimited wad of cash.
A third approach is to offer to split the training with the player’s family. This can be an awkward conversation, but if a player is truly looking for good representation and not just a free ride through the spring, it can work. More and more, parents are starting to get involved in the costs of training, but it can be hard to figure out what families have such resources. In this case, you’ll probably need to have a good trainer at the ready who’s nearby the player’s family so the living expenses can be reduced.
In all these strategies, you’ll need to find the right player to pursue this. Probably not one who’s being highly recruited, and one who has taken his studies rather seriously. We’ll talk more about finding players this week.