This time of year, I’m starting to hear from agents who were certified in 2013 and, despite having been in the business for three years, have never gotten a client on an active NFL roster. The NFLPA gives you three years to get a player on a team, even during the offseason when rosters are at 90-man limits, and if you don’t do it, it’s sayonara. You have to recertify — take the test again, pay your initiation fees again, the whole works. It’s a bad scene. It occurred to me that I’ve never addressed this on our blog, so I thought today would be a good time to do that, since we’re about two months away from the deadline.

August of your third year in the business is a bad time to satisfy the roster requirement. First of all, teams are looking to cut players right now, not add them. Though all teams maintain short lists, if your client hasn’t already made that list, he probably won’t be added late.
You have to be on a player’s standard representation agreement (SRA) prior to his addition to the roster. This means you have to play a guessing game, first identifying players that you think will be late adds, then approaching their agents and trying to sweet-talk them into letting you on the SRA (naturally, this requires begging, agreeing that you won’t steal the client, that you won’t accept any fees, etc.). Not an easy proposition.
Very often, an agent is scrambling in Year 3 because he blew off Year 1. This is easy to do. After all, being an agent is essentially commission sales, and that’s not an easy job. What’s more, you don’t get the go-ahead to start recruiting until after you’ve been certified, and you don’t even find out your test results until well into September. That’s after schools have had their agent days, and often players won’t talk to agents during the season. That means you’re left scrambling for leftovers in December/January, and at this point, it’s a pretty shallow talent pool.
For all these reasons, if you’re considering certification, or you’re waiting to get your test results back, make sure you don’t pass up Year 1. You just don’t want to be stuck making rookie mistakes in Year 2, and the later you start, the quicker the deadline arrives. We can help when you’re in dire straits — we do it all the time — but it’s not where we, or you, want to be.

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