At Inside the League, we focus on the representation and scouting side of the game. That’s why see the moves of Mike McCartney, Jaymeson Moten and Kyle Dolan (and their draft clients) from Chicago-based Priority Sports to New York City-based VaynerSports as pretty big.
We more than just broke the story; we devoted quite a bit of space to it at our main site. For garden variety NFL fans, it’s a blip on the screen, but for people who follow the business of the game, like yourself, it’s something much more. Here are a few questions, and our answers, in the wake of Vayner’s expansion.
Is this unusual?: Regarding the timing and the stature of the players, yes. Last year, Houston-based Nicole Lynn left Young Money APAA Sports for Klutch Sports Group the week of the draft, but she took only two players, and they were both Day 3 draftees (Alabama OG Deonte Brown went 6/193 to the Panthers, while North Carolina WO Dazz Newsome went 6/221 to the Bears). That’s the only transfer of agents and players between March 1 and draft day in at least the last 10 years.
What prompted this?: There are a lot of factors, but one of them has to be the social media expertise and bandwidth provided by the three agents’ new home. Though rival firms like Rosenhaus Sports, CAA and Steinberg Sports, among others, got into the name, image and likeness race immediately last July, Priority Sports wasn’t nearly as aggressive. The NIL era promises to change the face of player representation, and indeed, already has. Both of VaynerSports’ clients heading into the ’22 draft, Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder and Purdue WO David Bell, were their NIL clients starting last summer/fall.
What does this move say about the business of player representation?: That you’re either a big fish or your’s fish food, put very simply. Where once there was a solid cache of middle class agencies who could sign and manage a handful of mid-rounders each year, those firms are largely gone. The demands of the NIL era demand a larger commitment. In the past, an agency’s relationship with a player didn’t really begin until shortly before his draft year. Today, agencies are signing players barely out of high school, then expected to produce for 3-4 years. That’s a big ask for a smallish firm with meager resources.
What’s next for Priority Sports?: The cupboard isn’t entirely bare. Los Angeles-based Kenny Zuckerman, who has two projected mid-round picks in this draft (Virginia Tech OT Luke Tenuta and UCLA DT Otito Ogbonnia), has been an NFL contract advisor for three decades, and he remains with the firm. Zuckerman was tied for 56th in total clients in our latest count. What’s more, Priority’s Rick Smith represents 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Lions head coach Dan Campbell as well as, on the college side, Tennessee’s Josh Heupel and UTSA’s Jeff Traylor, two of the hotter young coaches on the FBS level. Time will tell if Priority chooses to restock its lineup with new agents on the NFL side.
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