On Tuesday, we posted an interview with former agent and ‘Skins cap guy J.I. ‘Jimmy’ Halsell regarding his work with new Broncos OT Russell Okung on his new contract. However, we had even more questions about the process of working with Okung and Jimmy’s thoughts on the reaction to the deal. We finish up our interview today.
How did you come to work with Okung on the contract? Did he approach you independently? Did the NFLPA play a role? Did you have a prior relationship with him? “When I read last summer that he was going to do his second contract without an agent, but with the assistance of an expert, I knew that was right in my proverbial wheelhouse. I then put on my recruiter hat and leveraged my connections to get in touch with him prior to the 2015 season. That said, Russ and I never talked until the end of the season as he began to turn his attention to his impending second contract. We quickly realized the mutual benefit and agreed to work together.”
What were the negatives you had going into free agency that you had to overcome? “Russ’ January shoulder injury was the biggest obstacle going into free agency. If Russ doesn’t incur that injury, then his free agent process is significantly different, even without the ability to talk to teams in advance of the start of free agency.”
Did Internet reaction to the contract surprise you? “Not at all, since last summer when Russ announced his intentions, one could see the skepticism from agents and, in turn, from the media. That said, the overwhelming majority of players need an agent to advocate for them; Russ is unique given his personality, intelligence, and willingness to act on his vision. The fact is that the media has misconstrued Russ’ contract at least in part (not in all instances) because there is a turf-protection agenda from some agents. However, many athletes will not go Russ’ route not because of the misconstrued contract he signed but because they don’t have the same tools Russ possesses, and that’s OK, because that’s what agents are for. So my overarching point is that, proverbially, everyone can eat.”
Do you plan on working with other players on their deals? Would you entertain such work if you were approached? “In addition to Russ, I’ve worked on a couple of other deals this offseason as a consultant to the certified agent. Regarding working directly with players, again, I don’t envision a lot of players having the confidence to pursue the path Russ did, but for those players who do have that confidence, then I’d absolutely be willing to be a consultant, just as I was to Russ.”
Make sure to follow Jimmy on Twitter here for his thoughts on the business of the game, with thoughts and analysis you won’t find anywhere else.