How the Eagles Built a Front Office That Built a Champion

Lost in last weekend’s pre-Super Bowl hypefest was a story in the Baltimore Sun with a hidden Eagles subtext. In the story, which announced that GM Ozzie Newsome would hand the reins to Assistant GM Eric DeCosta after the 2018 season, was this paragraph:

“The Ravens have struggled in recent years with losing scouts such as Joe Douglas, Andy Weidl, Ian Cunningham and T.J. McCreight. All four currently work in the front office of the Philadelphia Eagles. . . They had 55 years of working experience combined in Baltimore.”

It’s worth noting that the Eagles won this year despite going against the NFL hiring grain in almost every way when it comes to how its front office was crafted. To wit:

  • Owner Jeffrey Lurie pulled off the unusual move of demoting the de facto GM, Howie Roseman, while keeping him in the building. Equally surprising: Roseman accepted the exile, then returned stronger and better after a year of growth on the business side.
  • When hiring GMs, the league tends to pick from the Packer, Seahawk or Patriot tree. Two of the last four GMs hired in the last two months (Cleveland’s John Dorsey and Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst) were well-rooted in the Packers’ ways, while the three hired in 2016 (Miami’s Chris Grier, Detroit’s Bob Quinn and Tennessee’s Jon Robinson) came off the Patriots’ branches. But the Eagles have gone their own way. Except for Senior Personnel Executive Trey Brown, none of their senior executives are from those three organizations.
  • You could argue that the Eagles put as much emphasis on the pro side of scouting as any team in the league. While most teams put most weight on the college side, the Eagles have six scouts with ‘pro’ in their title. While numbers aren’t available for other teams, that total is likely to be among the highest, if not the highest, in the league.
  • Unlike teams that rely on continuity in their scouting staff, the Eagles have been aggressive about making changes until finding the right mix. Joe Douglas, the V.P. of Player Personnel, has been with the team less than two years. Assistant Director of Player Personnel Andy Weidl was hired the same day as Douglas. Director of College Scouting Ian Cunningham, Player Personnel Executive J. McCreight and Director of Pro Scouting Dwayne Joseph all have two years or less in the Eagles’ front office.

Winning a Super Bowl often means boldly going in a direction that defies conventional thinking in a league full of copy cats. Credit Owner Jeffrey Lurie with having the courage to go with his gut and trust his instincts in assembling a winning front office.

For a different look at how the Eagles built their roster into a Lombardi Trophy-worthy outfit, take a look at Shawn Zobel’s analysis of the team. His piece leads off this week’s ITL Friday Wrap. It’s free, and it goes out to more than 4,000 people across the football business each week. It’s free, and you can register for it here.

Shawn is a scout with experience working in the NFL at the team level and for the league office. He owns and Zobel Sports Consulting; hosts the Football Headquarters Podcast with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities; and has won three state championships as an assistant at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School.





Calling an Audible: Four Questions with James Walker

One of the best things about going out on the all-star circuit is the people I meet. Pretty much, if you’re at the Senior Bowl, you’re either part of the business or you’re hoping to become part of it. One of the people I met at this year’s trip to Mobile is part of both of those groups.

James Walker recently left ESPN to become a part of Adeptus CPAs. Moving from sports media to numbers-crunching is not a particularly common path, so I wanted to dig into why and how he wound up with Adeptus. My questions and his answers follow.

Why leave sports media for sports accounting?

“The timing couldn’t be better. It’s no secret that sports media is having issues. Recently ESPN, my former employer, had two rounds of layoffs last April and November that impacted hundreds of talented people. Fortunately I wasn’t part of those layoffs. But it did force me to rethink my career and decide if this was a battle I wanted to fight for the next 25 years, because I’m still in my 30s. Over the summer I decided getting out the business entirely was the best long-term play. So I began discussing this with my business contacts in August and received some good feedback and interest. I was very happy to ultimately land with Adeptus CPAs.”

Why was Adeptus a good match?

“They are creative and forward thinkers, and so am I. What other CPA firm would hire a sports reporter without accounting experience? What longtime sports reporter, who spent the past decade at ESPN, would give up his life’s work to join a CPA firm? It took outside-the-box thinking on both sides to make this work. Adeptus was willing to create a new position for me as lead recruiter, which I am very grateful for. And I am leveraging my 15 years of pro sports experience, contacts, access and credibility into accounting. We have a good long-term vision for where things are headed and are very excited.”

What are some of those long-term goals?

“We want to be the go-to accounting firm for pro athletes, coaches and executives. That’s the primary goal. Currently we are doing most of our business in the NHL and MLB. I will recruit all pro sports but a major objective is to boost our NFL clientele, which is in my wheelhouse. Something that was really exciting while researching the sports accounting industry is there is no single, dominant player in the marketplace. There is not a CAA for sports accounting, for example, who already has a gigantic chunk of the industry. Most of the work is spread out. I very much believe in the quality of work and team we have at Adeptus. So why not us?”

How will you look back at your reporting career?

“Very fondly. No doubt there will be things I miss, such as covering the big games and interesting stories. But I accomplished everything I wanted and more in sports reporting. I covered four Super Bowls, the Pro Bowl, NBA Finals, major college sports and did national television and radio hundreds of times. I traveled all across the country and worked at the No. 1 sports network for 10 years. Throughout my life I’m usually self-aware when it’s time to make important changes, and this is another example of that. Fortunately I still get to be involved in sports but in a different capacity.”

Who Drafted Best in 2017?

If there’s one thing I think the sport has lacked, it’s an affinity group, a trade organization, a body for those in personnel. I’m not talking about some kind of fan-based organization, but a real society for people in the business akin to the Pro Football Writers of America, the Sports Lawyers Association or the AFCA.

I was discussing this on Wednesday at the Senior Bowl with a longtime friend, Shawn Zobel of Zobel Sports Consulting, and we decided we should do something about it. We’re working on ideas and trying to decide how to approach it. Along the way, we got to talking about what team had the best draft in 2017, and we came up with these five teams. I’ll list them alphabetically and try to state each team’s best case.

Bears: I think there was some thought the Bears might make big changes in their front office around this time of year going into the ’17 season, but you have to hand it to GM Ryan Pace. He had the courage to stand up to the naysayers and draft one-year wonder QB Mitch Trubisky, and based on one season, it looks like a great move.  But it wasn’t the only one. The Bears landed two big players in the fourth round in FS Eddie Jackson and OH/KR Tarik Cohen.

Jaguars: The Jags got instant starters out of their first-rounder (OH Leonard Fournette) and second-rounder (OT Cam Robinson), plus promising rotational pieces in the third round (DE D.J. Smoot) and fourth round (WO DeDe Westbrook). Oh, by the way, they went from 3-13 and last in the AFC South to the AFC Championship game this season.

Saints: Marshon Lattimore. Alvin Kamara. We maybe needn’t go on, but we will. The team also drafted starters OT Ryan Ramczyk and FS Marcus Williams, as well as key contributor DE Trey Hendrickson in turning a franchise that had gone 7-9 three straight seasons — with Drew Brees — into one answered prayer away from the NFC Championship Game. You could argue that the ’17 draft even saved the team from having to draft a starting QB in 2018.

Texans: It wouldn’t be a discussion of the draft if it didn’t involve some projection, right? Think about what happens if QB Deshaun Watson doesn’t go down after six starts. If the Texans only had that one pick, after rolling the dice to trade up, you could argue they had the best draft, especially if he continued his brilliance over a complete season. However, the team also hit on IB Zach Cunningham in the second round, as well as OH D’onta Foreman (another injury casualty) and several other picks. Houston’s won-loss record masks a tremendous draft class.

Vikings: If you read this blog regularly, you know that we hold Minnesota’s front office in pretty high regard, and the ’17 draft class was another good one, though, again, it requires projection. Would KC’s Kareem Hunt and Kamara have stolen all the rookie rusher glory if Dalvin Cook, whom the team got in the second round, doesn’t go down in Week 4? And that’s to say nothing of rookie OC Pat Elflein, who stepped right in and helped make the Vikes’ OL a strength throughout the season? They also drafted a starter at weak side LB, Ben Gedeon, in the fourth round.

Shawn and I will be putting these contenders to a vote with our friends in the scouting community as well as in college personnel departments across the land, and we’ll announce the results at the NFL combine in about a month.

In the meantime, who do you like? Who did we leave out? Let us know in the comments, hit me up on Twitter, and/or listen in today as Sirius XM Radio’s Orlando Alzugaray and I give our votes on Mad Dog Radio (channel 82) at 5:30 p.m. ET today. You can also vote in our poll.



Notes from the All-Star Trail, Part II — Jan. 2018

I spent Sunday through Wednesday in Mobile this week for the Senior Bowl. It’s always the best week of the year, the game’s ‘outdoor party.’ Everyone from around the game is there, and it’s a relaxed atmosphere. What’s more, the people of Mobile are hospitable and engaging and the hotel staff is excellent.

Here are a few stories, observations and items from Mobile.

  • I know a lot of people who read this blog are hoping to work in the NFL someday. If you do — or if you just want to go to the game to see what all the fuss is about — make sure you’re there Monday to Thursday. Scouts start showing up Monday night and leave Wednesday or Thursday, and most agents follow them. It always amazes me when people who should know better arrive Thursday and leave after the game. By Thursday, the show is ending.
  • Here’s a story from this week’s game. A player was strolling through the lobby of the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel when he stopped briefly to talk to a financial advisor. He was immediately confronted by a scout who claimed he’d sent four texts to the player requesting an interview. After the player acknowledged that he’d received the texts, the exasperated scout asked why he hadn’t responded. The player essentially responded with a shrug. This is a prospect with fifth- to sixth-round grades, yet when he slides out of the draft this spring, he’ll likely blame his agent.
  • There were four players — Southern Miss OH Ito Smith, Troy QB Brandon Silvers, Kansas St. WO Byron Pringle and Florida St. SS Nate Andrews — represented by rookie agents. In a business where the richest agencies continue to get richer, it’s refreshing to see newer contract advisors getting a chance.
  • We’ve got four former NFL scouts lined up to provide a panel of experts at our 2018 ITL Combine Seminar, set for Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Indianapolis. We’ll have more details next week. For now, we’re still finalizing our lineup and locking down our venue. We think it’s going to be very special for everyone interested in scouting and evaluation.
  • I asked a scout who attended the Senior Bowl this year about the talent level, which was criticized by many this year. Here was his response: “There were . . . 30 players who declined invites for various reasons. Take the 90 juniors (who left last year and were drafted or signed post-draft), plus the 30 seniors who did not show up, and you have a lot of players who will be drafted in the first three rounds. The Senior Bowl is now a bowl game with a lot of mid-round and lower draft choices.” That’s sad, but it’s a sign of the times.
  • By the way, we’ll have a detailed look at the players who had the best week as judged by the ITL Scouting Department (made up of former NFL scouts) in today’s Friday Wrap, which will be out this evening. It’s free, and you can sign up for it here.

What Would a Scouting Association Look Like?

Last week in this space, I wondered why there was no society for people in personnel and scouting. There’s no trade association where people can meet and network, and maybe even get job tips. This seemed to spark interest, so I thought I’d flesh out what I’d think such an organization would involve and offer to members.

Here are my thoughts.

  • You can’t start an affinity group without establishing guidelines. I’d want to develop a ‘club’ for people who either (a) currently had jobs in scouting, (b) at one time had held jobs in scouting at the NFL level, or (c) were currently working personnel jobs at FBS schools. This makes for a rather limited group, and perhaps this would be expanded, but to me, the group loses its identity if half of the members are wannabe scouts rather than actual ones. Maybe I’d open it to people working in scouting in indoor leagues and overseas leagues, as well. I’d have to think about it some.
  • Obviously, any kind of serious interest group has its own seminar or convention. Any serious gathering of scouting professionals would have such an event. Choosing a date would be important, so we’d have to schedule it at a time that members of college personnel staff could attend. I’ve been chewing on this schedule and looking at potential times. It looks like the best chance to bring everyone together would be late July or early August, immediately before players return for camp.
  • Seminars would have speakers from the game that could address topics related to scouting and evaluation. We set up the template for that earlier this month with the College Gridiron Showcase Scouting Academy presented by Inside the League. We’re working on getting the film for that event and putting it online. We had four former scouts that spoke about the job of scouting and the life of a scout, and it was outstanding.
  • We already have several interviews with scouts on my site, Inside the League. We’ve interviewed former Cowboys scout Jim Hess, who helped ‘discover’ QB Tony Romo; former 49ers scout Oscar Lofton, who has some good stories about legendary DC Deion Sanders; former Saints scout Barrett Wiley, who describes how Saints Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson had a role with his getting a job in scouting; and several others. These are all quite lengthy, relaxed and conversational. They are a lot to listen to for most general football fans, but I’d think this kind of video (or podcasts) might be a key part of a society for scouting enthusiasts.
  • Every organization worth its salt has to have some kind of awards as a way of bringing its members together. I’ve always wondered why no one honors the team that has the best draft each year. That would seem to be a fun way to unite members and give them something to debate. We’d definitely make that an annual ritual.
  • Naturally, any such organization would also provide some kind of jobs network. I’m the first one to say that finding employment in scouting is not very linear, and quite different from other jobs. Still, to be an honest organization, we’d have to at least give it a try, and we would.
  • There’d be a cost to join, but we’d keep it low. I’d think $75 would be affordable for most anyone.
  • As we moved forward, I’d expand the number of people eligible to join, or maybe start alternative groups for aspiring scouts, students, etc.

What do you think? Do these ideas seem valid? Am I way off base? Is it a good start, but you think I might be missing something? Please let me know on Twitter or even via email. Thanks for reading.

Notes from the All-Star Trail — Jan. 2018

January is always a crazy time for me. On one hand, it’s the best time of the year because I get to get out and see all the people I text and email the other 11 months of the year. On the other, it’s incredibly busy, with so much information to gather and publish. And it’s tough being away from the family for almost the whole month.

Today, though, let’s focus on the positives. Here are a few thoughts gathered from conversations I’ve had through Week 1 of my annual Amuck in America tour.

  • On Tuesday, a couple of agents asked me if scouts would be sticking around until Wednesday, the third day of workouts at the College Gridiron Showcase in Addison, Texas. I knew why they were asking — their clients were looking to skip Wednesday’s workout, with the excuse that no NFL teams would be there. What’s frustrating is that though I’m super-proud of our game, we (the organizers of the game) are not at a point where we have a roster full of first-rounders. These kids need to play every chance they get, even if it impresses only a handful of people. When players immediately start asking if they can skip workouts, it makes me wonder if they love football. And if you’re not a Top 100 prospect, you really need to exude a love of football.
  • Today I had a long conversation with a financial advisor who, after years of pursuing NFL clients, gave it up this year. I called him to pick his brain about what makes it so hard to succeed in the game, and along the way, he shared something with me that I hadn’t thought of. There was a time, he said, when he’d discuss his NFLPA certification openly with his clients, but no more. Now he has to pick his spots because the cache is gone, and it’s all because of — you guessed it — the decision by so many players to kneel during the anthem. He works with plenty of retired and pre-retired professionals from an older generation, and while they accept the players’ actions intellectually, it’s difficult to stomach on an emotional level. That’s something I hadn’t thought of: that, to some degree, the NFL has become so toxic that it’s splashing on the non-football business of some people in the game. That’s not good.
  • Lately I’ve been mulling joining the Pro Football Writers of America. It doesn’t really benefit me, per se, and I don’t really think of myself as ‘media’ in the traditional sense, but I’ve been kicking it around. At any rate, it got me thinking — why isn’t there a professional organization for current, former and aspiring NFL scouts? Why isn’t there a body that rewards and honors scouts that excel, or helps gather information on the profession, or even helps show the ropes to those who want to work for NFL teams some day? It’s something I’ve been mulling for a while now. Think it’s a good idea? A dumb one? Would you be interested if I started such a society? Hit me up on Twitter (@InsideTheLeague) with your ideas.

Training Day: Joseph Potts of Top Speed Strength and Conditioning

Today, we continue our Training Day series with Joseph Potts, founder of Top Speed Strength and Conditioning just outside Kansas City. Joe brings a rich history of speed training on the professional sports level, including time with the hometown Royals as well as time spent training NFL athletes. His work bringing down 40 times by avoiding fads and relying on proven methodology is one reason we invited him to be part of the ITL family.

Read on for Joe’s insights on training and the combine prep space.

Top Speed Strength and Conditioning is based just outside of Kansas City, which is well outside the Sun Belt where most top combine prep facilities operate. How is this a challenge for you? Are there any benefits?

“Obviously, the winter weather can be a challenge, but outside of that, there’s not much difference. We’ve got a good hill for uphill sprint work as well as access to local football fields and track facilities. With agents sending a high majority of prospects to train in warmer states, one benefit is that guys who train here get more one-on-one interaction.”

Your resume includes extensive work with the Royals, where your speed techniques led to incredible success stealing bases in the team’s farm system. What are the parallels between teaching speed in baseball vs. football? Are there differences?

“In baseball, a majority of our start work was from the “base-stealing stance,” which is similar to the setup for the 5-10-5 shuttle. Outside of that, there isn’t much of a difference. It’s all about coaching for maximal movement efficiency and increasing force output into the ground. That’s pretty applicable across the spectrum of all sports when it comes to speed development.”

What’s the greatest challenge facing the modern speed trainer? Is it gaining a player’s trust? Is it getting his attention? Is it educating him on what it takes to really polish his skill-set? Something else?

“The biggest modern-day challenge is probably educating prospects on what to avoid. Social media has made it easy for trainers, ‘footwork’ gurus, and apparel companies to put together hype videos and shove a load of (crap) down a prospect’s throat. A few years ago, it was altitude training masks, which have since been debunked, and nowadays it seems to be ‘speed ladder gurus’ working as modern-day snake oil salesmen. What many young prospects don’t realize is that time is a precious commodity, and time spent practicing inefficient or ineffective training methods can impact the returns from the overall training. That’s why we try to stress smart training practices to our guys. It certainly paid off this year as guys like (Top Speed clients) Albert Wilson (Chiefs), Terrance Mitchell (Chiefs) and Dexter McDonald (Raiders) all had career years.”

Having trained dozens of NFL players as well as MLB players, what do they have in common besides outstanding physical traits?

“The ones I’ve worked with who were highly successful seemed to carry a chip on their shoulder. My theory is that this helped them avoid complacency. Many of them are also hyper-competitive, which, again, helps to avoid becoming complacent. One of the worst things an athlete can do is feel like they’ve ‘made it’ and relax, because in sports, there’s always someone out their gunning for your spot.”


Training Day: Corey Taylor of CTSP Sports Performance

Today, with most bowl games over and combine training under way across the country, we continue our Training Day series with Corey Taylor CTSP Sports Performance in Louisville. Corey is no joke as a trainer and has carved out a successful niche in the business despite being based far away from Miami, Los Angeles and other popular places for combine prep.

You make it clear during training that you have a regimen, it works, and you don’t deviate from it, no matter the player. How does that affect your relationship with players, positively and negatively? 

“It has a positive effect as we develop a close relationship due to the mutual respect we have as well as respect and trust in the training process. I let my players see my true passion for coaching and they know I give them everything I have in every session. Training at my place is not for everyone. We have a culture and a process that has been very successful, so if it’s not a good fit and they are not willing to commit and trust the process, then I’ll send the player home. I can’t afford to allow one player to ruin the process for my other guys. Too much on the line to be lost!”

When a player has to depart for all-star play, is that a positive or negative for a player’s ability to improve his body and skills? 

“I think it affects the combine invitees more than pro day guys. If a player goes to a late bowl game and has an all-star invitation, there is very little room for error in their training process. Most of the time it only leaves combine guys 4-6 weeks to get dialed in and make improvements. That’s why you see a lot of players improve their numbers at their pro day because of the additional preparation time.”

Players often build a stronger bond with their trainers during combine prep than their agents, financial planners, or other key advisors. What do you attribute that to? 

“Trust! These guys are spending 8-10 weeks with us and are essentially putting their careers in our hands. There must be a strong bond and trust so they are not only physically but mentally prepared.”

What’s different, good or bad, about training in Louisville? Are there pluses? Minuses? 

“A good thing about training in Louisville is there are less distractions and I am able to create an environment for laser-like focus to get players prepared for the biggest interview of their lives. There are no minuses. Louisville is not a sexy place to train but it’s a time for the players to focus on their one opportunity to make it to the league. Their job is to prepare both physically and mentally for the combine/pro day. There is a lot of investment in these kids so there is no time for vacation. It’s money time!”

In the last five years, would you say the combine prep business has changed for the better or worse? 

“I believe it has gotten worse.. I don’t see how you can give players the quality of training they need to dominate their combine/pro day when you have 30-50 guys in a training facility. Players also get so much bad information on training. Negative things get said about training at my facility because I only take 6-8 guys each year and not 30-50. However, every player that trains with me makes notable improvements on their 40 and other tests.”

Training Day: Geoff Pastrick of Prime Athlete Development

Today, we continue our series on some of our combine prep partners, and our focus turns to Geoff Pastrick of Prime Athlete Development in Kennesaw, Ga. Geoff’s service is interesting because it represents the next logical step in training for NFL athletes in that it’s position-specific. Geoff’s passion is training offensive linemen, and he’s put his years of experience to work doing just that for players hoping to block for NFL running backs and passers some day.

Here are some questions and Geoff’s answers on his service.

You’ve chosen to specialize in offensive line. Why offensive line? 

“The position of offensive line is the greatest position in all of sports. I’ve spent numerous hours game-planning and practicing schemes and never had the same level of excitement about that aspect of coaching as I did about teaching the fundamentals and techniques of offensive line play. The game of football, and the athletes that play it, have evolved. Unfortunately, the position of offensive line, for the most part, is still being taught the same way it was decades ago. In order to play at a high level, one must be trained as such. Prime is a place where offensive line athletes are given the respect, the undivided attention, and the dedication to their specific skillset that they deserve.”

You’ve chosen to specialize. Do you see this as becoming more common?

“When you decide to specialize, your target market greatly decreases. However, that is what makes it that much more special for those athletes. When an offensive line athlete comes to Prime, they know that . . . not only are they getting position-specific skill work, but they are also getting position-specific strength and agility training.  They know that each lift or movement that they are performing is directly related to improving their on-the-field skills as well as improving their on-the-field performance.”

How do you impress on young players that they can trust you, and that you can help them?

“Part of building trust is proving to the athlete that you know their weaknesses, have a plan in place to help them improve those areas, and have their best interest in mind.  The first thing we do is speak to the athlete to gauge their interest in our program and to find out what, specifically, they are looking for in a training facility. If we feel like the athlete will be a good fit, we then start an evaluation process of the athlete as an offensive lineman. There are certain criteria that we evaluate and certain characteristics that we look for. Once we have all the necessary information we generate a report and then go over that report with the athlete. We discuss what improvements need to be made and the plan we will put in place to address those areas.”

You’ve chosen to go to a longer training cycle (12 weeks v. 8 weeks). How does that benefit your clients?

“To have success as an offensive line athlete you must continually work on your craft.  We believe in a 12-week program to get as much work on their specific craft as possible, which includes strength training and movement patterns, to give the athlete the best chance to make an impression during rookie mini-camp. Our goal is that the athlete is a better offensive lineman on the first day of rookie mini-camp than he was the last time scouts saw him play. Furthermore, our plan is to train through March and then break for the month of April when the athletes will be visiting with teams before the draft. If an athlete wants to continue to train at Prime they are more than welcome. We also stress to the athlete to come back in as much as they can before training camp starts to continue to build on what they have learned.”

Obviously, most of the bigger combine prep facilities are based in the Sun Belt, especially Florida and California. What went into your decision to launch your service in Atlanta?

“We have good weather as well, but if an athlete is more interested in sitting under an umbrella on the beach sipping on iced-tea than he is interested in improving his performance then Prime is not the place for him! The truth is that I have lived in this area for over 12 years. Prime is in the football-crazed Southeastern US, right in the middle of SEC country. We are located in Kennesaw, GA, which is a great area just 25 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta.  There are numerous things athletes can enjoy on their downtime just a short drive from the facility.”


The Rising Cost of Representing Players

Sticker shock is probably the biggest issue facing the modern NFL agent, and that’s especially true of new contract advisors sorting out the financial expectations of their recruiting quarry. Even players barely on the draft radar have come to see training as an expectation, and the entitlement doesn’t end there.

We’ve done plenty of writing about the costs of the business in the past. About three years ago (January 2015), the number we came up with was $10,000 to represent a player who could be drafted in the seventh round, but who would likely wind up as a priority free agent. Of course, that’s three years ago in a business where the dollars spend quickly and desperate knows no bounds. On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a top-100 pick, the number is 3-4 times that, according to our conversation with a top player rep in November 2014.

Both costs have risen. This week, the answer we got back on the first question was that it’s closer to $30,000 for a player slated to be drafted in the latter rounds (“we set aside 20k for training, 1500 a month in per diem, then another 2k in random expenses,” said one agent who typically signs late-rounders and undrafted free agents but always eschews top-50 prospects). As for those in the Top 100, by the time signing bonus, per diem, training (including lodging and food), marketing guarantee and/or other costs, we can only guess.

Still, it’s not the upfront costs but the back-end costs we’ll be focusing on later today in our Friday Wrap. We asked 13 contract advisors this question: How much does your monetary investment in a player grow over the draft cycle? In other words, once training costs and other considerations are set upon signing, what percentage (if any) does that total grow with unplanned, ‘out of pocket’ costs?

Based on spending about $30,000 on a typical prospect, here were some of the responses.

  • “Depending on the level of player i plan on spending around 5 to 15k. It usually ends up around 10 to 20k at least.”
  • “I mean, it always happens. It can be as little as a $200 flight, or it can be thousands of dollars. When i budget for each guy i usually add at least $7,500 in “misc. costs.”  If i stay under, great…but it usually tips the other way.”
  • “Maybe 2-3k.”
  • We’re pretty strict so maybe 5%.”
  • “Overall, we know that the promised expenses are probably about 90% of the expenses. Sometimes we need a few extra flights, rental car, or an additional loan, but the main expenses are known upon signing. And of course, we know our own expenses like all-star games, visiting client while training, etc. Very true. Plan is to keep things as clear as possible when they sign in order to avoid the issue later. Usually works but not always!”

For more responses, and a more rigorous look at the ‘out of pocket’ expenses associated with signing and representing budding NFL players, make sure to register for our Friday Wrap. It’s free, and chock-full of notes on the business of pro and college football. Register here.

Merry Christmas!