I wanted to wrap a week of discussions on the NFLPA’s move to make 1.5 percent agent fees the default option with a couple thoughts based on discussions I’ve had with agents and trainers, this week and in the past.

  • One of the biggest ways new and/or young agents can do to improve their chances of success is by partnering with bigger agents (I call it having a ‘big brother’). The way it usually works is that the smaller agent develops an excellent relationship with a top prospect, but knowing he can’t ‘close’ the player, pairs up with a major agent/agency late in the process (we regularly help pair up these parties, by the way). In the past, this was easy. Once the training fees and costs of recruiting were covered, the big and small agents split the 3 percent. Now they’re splitting 1.5 percent unless they can talk the player ‘up’ to 3 percent. There’s so little money to be made now that this partnership probably doesn’t work anymore.
  • As trainers have come into the game and become a bigger part of the draft process, they’re often derided as making hundreds of thousands of dollars with no risk. Though ultimately they get paid whether the player is drafted or not, I can assure you they carry plenty of risk. Trainers almost always provide training up front, then often get paid once it’s complete. The temptation now, for less scrupulous agents, could be to stiff trainers completely.
  • As a person who’s pretty comfortable with the ideas of capitalism, I think that, generally, the best producers are compensated the best, and to get the best people, you must be willing to provide a good wage. When you cut a fee that was already lowest among the three major sports in half, you’re going to hurt the service to your constituents. That goes not only for the lesser players, but ultimately for the players that really matter in the league. I feel the NFLPA is discouraging talented, smart young people from succeeding in the business as well as considering entering it. The number of people wiling to get certified by the NFLPA has always been almost insatiable, but that could end if steps like this continue to be taken.

For what it’s worth, this move has not been made officially. Not yet, anyway. But it definitely seems to be coming. We’ll see if the outrage generated by contract advisors so far is heeded by the NFLPA. Let’s hope the players association is listening.

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