SBJ/September 23 - 29, 2002/Labor Agents

Jammer's contract is done, but agents' postgame analysis continues

NFL agent Mike Sullivan earlier this year publicly blamed a contract negotiated by rival agent Tom Condon as a reason he couldn't get the San Diego Chargers to sign his client, No. 5 NFL draft pick Quentin Jammer.

After Jammer signed earlier this month, other agents questioned whether his deal is any better than the contract for last year's No. 5 pick — Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson — that Sullivan criticized.

Jammer

The squabble has been the talk of agent circles, partly because both agents are so prominent. Condon is president of football for powerful IMG, and Sullivan heads the NFL practice for up-and-coming Octagon.

Both deals have the same amount of guaranteed money: $10.5 million. But that money is spread over six years for the Jammer contract, compared to five years for the Tomlinson contract. Tomlinson's average compensation per year is slightly higher than Jammer's.

"It's a flat deal," one experienced NFL agent said of the Jammer contract. "Every year the pick['s contract] should go up, and this one didn't. They held him out for nine weeks for a flat deal."

Sullivan said last week that he got the money he wanted for Jammer for the first three years — $13.2 million. That includes a $6 million signing bonus, a $4.5 million option buyout clause, $1.95 million in salary and $750,000 in an escalator clause that Jammer is likely to hit. That one-time escalator requires Jammer to participate in 75 percent of the plays in one year or 50 percent of the plays in two years.

Sullivan also said last week that he didn't mean to criticize the entire Tomlinson contract, only the first three years. "I said the three-year [value] is below market," he said. "The entire contract is fine."

The Tomlinson contract pays $9.75 million over the first three years, although if his career ended after three years he would get $11.5 million because of a fourth-year salary gaurantee. Additionally, he could get $3 million more over the first three years if he hits incentives that are fairly difficult to reach.

Agents say the Tomlinson deal is good on the back end, where he will be paid $5.5 million in the fourth year and $6.5 million in the fifth year before he becomes a free agent. Tomlinson's salaries in those two years increase by a combined $8.25 million because in his rookie season he hit what agents said was an achievable escalator clause of rushing for more than 1,000 yards.

By comparison, Jammer will get only $850,000 in his fourth year, $1.1 million in his fifth year and $1.35 million in his sixth year, unless the cornerback hits escalator targets that even Sullivan acknowledges are difficult.

"We put more value in the first three years of the contract, and that is why getting $13.2 million was our primary goal," Sullivan said. "We knew the Chargers were not going to approach those numbers without concessions on the difficulty of the escalators."

Another top agent, not affiliated with Condon or Sullivan, said it's a toss-up as to which contract is better. The answer will depend on how long and how well the players perform in the NFL.

"If both players have long and productive careers, the Tomlinson deal affords the player the opportunity to get another contract soon," said this agent. "If both players are mediocre or suffer significant injury, the Jammer contract provides more protection for the player."

OCTAGON BAGS GOLFER: Octagon's golf division has signed professional golfer Michael Sims for representation. Octagon recently negotiated a deal in which Sims, who is on the Buy.com Tour, will endorse Belmont Golf Club in Bermuda. Octagon agent Thomas Parker is the lead agent for Sims.

ALLEN SIGNS ESPN DEAL: Former Oakland Raiders defensive back Eric Allen has signed a deal with ESPN to co-host its "Coaches Corner" television show and to provide analysis for other ESPN television and radio programs and its Internet site.

The deal is for one year, with an option for a second year. Allen was represented by longtime agent Gary Uberstine of Premier Sports and by Steve Caric of Hill and Knowlton Sports Marketing.

Contact Liz Mullen at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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