You’ve heard me say in this space before that players hold all the cards in the agent-client relationship. That’s one reason why this is such a crazy business, and why things are so volatile for contract advisors. I came across a real-life illustration of this last week.
In December of 2013, a first-year-certified agent contacted me to tell me it looked like he had his first client, and he was in an all-star game, to boot. I shared his excitement and congratulated him, but as we went forward with the conversation, it became clear my friend had only received a commitment, and not a signed Standard Representation Agreement (SRA). That’s something else entirely. His would-be client was getting ready to go to an all-star game, a place that would be crawling with agents. Early in the week, agents would be able to access my list of players without representation and cherry-pick the best prospects. I explained all of this to him, and urged him to get a signed SRA as soon as possible.
Well, just as I had feared, disaster struck. The young man went to his game, got recruited by an experienced agent (a good guy who’s also an ITL client) and signed with him. Along the way, he gave his ‘first agent’ some cockamamie story about getting pressured by game organizers to give an agent’s name, and because he hadn’t technically signed an SRA with the first guy, he felt he had to pick representation at the game.
At any rate, I got behind on my agent termination lists this fall and got caught up last week. In the process of doing so, I noticed that the player had already switched from his first agent. That’s not altogether unusual; once a player makes an NFL team, he’s often taken under the wing of a veteran, and one of the first things the vet does is introduce him to his agent. However, it was quite unusual to see that, the following month, he changed again, to a third agent. That made three formal agent agreements (plus a ‘commitment’ to the first agent) in the space of 12 months. That’s pretty wild.
I can’t say this is usual — in fact, it’s quite unusual — but there’s certainly nothing barring him from changing representation every month of his NFL career. Of course, his first agent is still getting paid on the deal the young man signed when he entered the league, but as long as there are agents out there willing to ‘work’ for him without getting paid until his next deal, he can keep firing and signing, firing and signing.
That’s one of the unusual aspects of the NFL, but one you need to understand if you’re weighing becoming a contract advisor.