What will life look like on the other side of the coronavirus — presuming we ever get there? I don’t know. But I’m willing to make a few predictions on how football will change, especially as it relates to how agents, scouts and trainers work. Here are a few.
Video visits will become capped: Now that we’re all more comfortable with Zoom, it’s become a lot easier to work remotely. Before this year, the only way teams could bring a player “in-house” was with their allotted 30 visits in March and April. Teams are getting around this now, however, with Zoom visits; New Orleans Football chronicled a detailed visit the Saints had with Utah St. QB Jordan Love this week. The NFL’s Competition Committee is pretty rigid about eliminating any advantages one team might have over another. I could see the league either lumping these in with the 30 visits, or creating a new rule for total number of virtual visits.
Trainers will put in a coronavirus clause: Combine prep trainers are the IRS of the agent industry. Many complain about them and feel like they are way too much trouble and demand too much money. I wonder if contract advisors still feel this way after several trainers have risked state sanctions to open their venues for workouts, or have reached out to me to find ex-scouts to run pro days. Most trainers are excellent at what they do, but they don’t have big staffs who can set up pro days. It’s the kind of mission creep trainers hate, but that agents expect. Trainers often struggle just to get payment for their services; I could see most of them strictly defining their services going forward, and restricting all provision of services beyond training until they’ve received full compensation.
Traditional scouting becomes newly valued: About two-thirds of pro days were cancelled this year, which means there’s a drastic cutback on the triangle numbers of hundreds of prospects. This means there will be a lot more evaluation done the old-fashioned way. My hope is that teams use this time to reinforce old-style film breakdown with the new wave of young scouts who’ve been hired the last 4-5 years. I also hope that teams draw on their scouting reports rather than falling in love with a prospect’s well-rehearsed in-person interview. Finally, I hope it also means some veterans get extended, or at least not axed. You gotta keep some of the gray-haired guys around sometimes. They have something to offer.
We’ll take a further look at how people in the game are dealing with the crisis today in the Friday Wrap, which comes out this evening. If you haven’t already, register for it here.