I don’t talk about it much, but I think one of the themes of this blog is that to be successful in this business, you must be ‘your own man.’ You must be creative. You must be willing to go your own way.

J.I. Halsell of NFL Contract Metrics had an instance during his time with the Washington Redskins that his ability to think a little differently was a key asset.

The team had just drafted LSU SS LaRon Landry as the sixth pick in 2007. Landry would give the ‘Skins a pair of aces at the safety position as he teamed with FS Sean Taylor, the team’s athletic superstar at the back of the secondary. The problem was that though Landry, like Taylor, was an athletic freak (4.35 40 at the combine), the position where he’d be playing would not lend itself to easy incentives. Box safeties don’t rack up sacks and interceptions; they’re more like linebackers whose value is in stopping the run and intimidating at the line of scrimmage. That meant J.I. would have to come up with other ways to compensate him without the usual incentives.

“(Landry was) not a ball-hawking free safety like most first-round safeties,” J.I. said. “He was a box safety that went in top 10. Back then, there was a lot more leeway about how (a contract) was structured. There were not many box safeties in the top 10. How do you create an incentive package for a guy that wouldn’t get a lot of turnovers and interceptions? How do you judge his productivity, while also mitigating the team’s downside so that the team didn’t have a lot of risk?”

He said the ability to think outside the box (no pun intended) is key whatever side of the table you’re on.

“Once you get to a team, or to an agency, you have to think creatively so you’re compensating the player or the team accordingly. LaRon was just as much a freak (as Taylor) in terms of his testing at the combine. He didn’t have the length, but he could run. We had two freak athletes at safety, and how do we compensate these guys?”

J.I. was able to craft a deal that had the right mix of base salary and incentives that were enticing to Landry and his agency, New York City-based Lagardere Unlimited, and the team was able to get him to camp on time, signing him shortly before camp started in late July.

I think this is important if you want to work in this business because there’s no real formula for success. You can try to storm the gates of NFL teams in an attempt to be a scout, or you can save your pennies and take a shot at being an agent, but if you’re creative, you might be able to find your own way to the football heights.