Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Agents

While perusing the NFL CBA is the literary version of watching grass grow, the task has brought the interesting role of the agents into focus. The CBA gives the NFL Players Association full control over the agents, who can be one and how an agent can be decertified. This is backed up by penalizing clubs for doing deals with agents that are not certified by the NFLPA. When analyzing the negotiations for the new CBA, we often think about players vs. big market owners vs. small market owners, but the agents also have a significant interest in these negotiations.

While they do not have a formal seat at the negotiating table, they will certainly have a voice, because any changes to the salary structure will have a significant impact on their earning potential. In most cases, the agents interests are in line with the players' interests, more money for player salaries translates into more money for agents.

Where these interests deviate however is around rookie salaries. Current players and owners hate the current rookie salary structure because it leads to rookies often being paid more than well established veterans at the same position and lengthy contract negotiations that can be PR disasters. Agents however, love the rookie structure for exactly these reasons.

While players know that if you take some money away from rookies, that cash will go to veterans and all the players at the table are obviously veterans. Agents however know that it is a lot easier to recruit a new client if they are not already someone else's client, rookie contracts (particularly first and second round picks) are often the most lucrative of a player's career. Additionally, negotiating a first round pick's contract, and doing it very publicly and perhaps with a long hold out allows agents to raise their own profile and make it easier to attract new business.

So as the negotiations unfold, watch what happens to the rookie pool. If NFL rookies get paid like NBA rookies (slotted fixed salaries with no negotiations unless you are the Griz), then agents are losing the battle. If however, the rookie structure remains in place, then the agents must be wielding significant power.

No comments:

Post a Comment