Monday night, we welcomed former Titans scouting executive Blake Beddingfield for our final monthly Zoom session aimed at rookie agents fighting to get their first-ever clients onto NFL rosters. Obviously, for the newest contract advisors, every shred of advice from good counsel matters, so Blake’s input was critical. The best part of having a seasoned former NFL exec around means learning, and that goes for me as well as everyone on the call.
This session was different because one thing Blake said was contrary to what I’ve always preached. One participant asked Blake if there was value in reaching out to all 32 NFL teams to remind them of an agent’s clients and their workout numbers, and Blake encouraged him to do so.
My approach has always been that, with the APT Coalition and the cooperation between teams on workout numbers, most scouts would see such communication as unnecessary and maybe even less than trustworthy. Blake’s take was that he’d rather have the chance to sift through all the numbers and make his own decision on what’s valid and what’s not. That makes sense, as long as contract advisors don’t get the impression they can lobby their clients onto NFL rosters. I think that’s a misconception that’s been long-held by some of the lesser prospects in each draft class. At the end of the day, there’s something to be said about making sure your client is front of mind on Saturday.
Here are a few other things we discussed that I found intriguing.
Not all teams are good at developing players, and you need to know which ones are and aren’t before you make a UDFA choice. Blake mentioned the Seahawks as a team that’s very good at making Day 3 players into stars, and that extends to UDFA signees. Indeed, Seattle got a lot of mileage out of two Day 3 cornerbacks, Cincinnati’s Coby Bryant (4/109) and UTSA’s Tariq Woolen (5/153), last year. Remember this if you’re weighing a post-draft offer from the Seahawks and a rival team.
Don’t lose hope if your client doesn’t have a home on Saturday. Rookie mini-camp invitations are not preferred, but they’re better than nothing, and sometimes they aren’t extended until Monday, Tuesday, or even later. It’s even possible a player get a UDFA offer Sunday or later.
There’s value in “accepting” an offer now, especially if it’s a rookie mini-camp invite. No one is going to be angry if your client gets a UDFA deal, but it’s OK to make a gentleman’s agreement on a rookie mini-camp nod before the draft. Of course, this is strictly illegal, so don’t tell anyone, but it happens all the time.
The $3,000 signing bonus mark is a pretty good measure of how invested a team is in your UDFA client. The real graduations, Blake said, are $5,000 or more (highly invested), $3,000 (reasonable investment) and $1,000 or less (these players are strictly a dice roll for the team and not at all expected to make the roster).
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