There’s been a good bit of hand-wringing in this space over the NFLPA’s new policy setting 1.5 percent as the default agent fee (though savvy contract advisors may still seek a maximum of 3 percent from their clients). Here and here and here are some examples of agents’ concerns, and here and here and here are thoughts from combine trainers, who’ll probably have to make a few concessions, as well.
However, after a few conversations with members of big firms, there may be good news for small and mid-sized firms that may see the new SRA as a doomsday scenario.
In the past, big firms spent the spring and summer recruiting players (juniors and seniors) projected as Top-100 picks in the coming draft. As the season unfolded, they’d either lose interest in some of their recruits, or be rejected, or some other scenario that might lead them to look for other prospects. At this point, they’d reach out to scouting contacts, who would in turn update them on the players who’d improved their status. The big firms would then barge in and soak up these players, usually pushing out the smallish firms who’d spent spring and summer forging relationships with them. It was really, really bad news for the upstart agencies. The bullies on the block always won.
This year, however, I’ve been told by two agents I highly respect (and who come from Top 10 agencies) that their agencies will cut back this year by reducing the number of players they sign. In the old days, they could pay for training on their long shots with the premiums paid by big players, but now that fewer will pay 3 percent (though both told me their agencies will still fight for 3 percent), there’s less margin.
This still means the guys out there hustling to make names for themselves will have to spend the summer and fall building relationships. However, just maybe, those relationships won’t go for naught as often in the age of the de facto 1.5 percent agent fee. At least, I hope so. There are a lot of good agents out there working hard and who deserve to be rewarded for their efforts.