SBJ/March 11-17, 2013/Labor and Agents

Legacy Agency signs Walsh Jennings, readies new strategy

Liz Mullen
Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

The Legacy Agency has signed three-time Olympic gold-medal-winning volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings for exclusive representation in all areas.

Brandon Swibel, TLA senior director, talent marketing and corporate partnerships, will represent her. Walsh Jennings was formerly represented by Morgan Advisory Group.

TLA is looking for speaking engagements, TV work and corporate partnerships for Walsh Jennings. She has existing partnerships with Microsoft and with nutritional supplement brand BioPharma Scientific.

Her previous sponsorship deals have included Gatorade, Visa, Procter & Gamble, and Oakley.

“She has had a ton of major corporate sponsorships in the past,” Swibel said. “But, you know, a lot of Olympic deals run through the year of the Olympics. A lot of them ran through 2012. So we probably will renew with some of those companies, but we are coming up with an overall strategy to try to align with the right companies.”

Walsh Jennings and teammate Misty May-Treanor won the Olympic gold medal for beach volleyball in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Walsh Jennings, 34, plans to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Swibel said. She will turn 38 on Aug. 15, 2016.

Walsh Jennings revealed on the “Today” show last September that she was five weeks pregnant while competing during the 2012 Games. “After she has this baby in April, she plans to be back [competing] in June,” Swibel said.

Walsh Jennings has two other children.

“She really wants to transcend both beach volleyball and the Olympics and really be a role model as the prototypical, on-the-go mom,” Swibel added.

> FRANCHISE TAGS DROP: Eight NFL clubs placed franchise tags on players this year, down from the record 21 last year, and two prominent NFL player agents say a lack of salary cap room may be the reason for the decrease.

“At the risk of oversimplifying it, I think the scarcity of the use of franchise tags is due directly to the relative scarcity of cap room,” said agent Pat Dye Jr., via text message. “This affects the current teams ability or willingness to consume too much cap with a tag.”

Dye, president of SportsTrust Advisors, represents Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady, who was one of the eight players who received a franchise tag, which gives the team the right to sign a player to a one-year deal at a certain dollar amount that is calculated based on what top players at that position have earned over the past five years. Tagged players can get offers and sign with other clubs, but their old club has the right to match the offer, and if it does not, the original club receives two first-round picks from the new club that signs the player. This severely limits a player’s ability to move because most clubs are not willing to give up those draft picks.

Last year, most players either negotiated long-term deals with the club that tagged them or accepted and played under the one-year salary. But the tag counts against the salary cap until a deal is accepted or negotiated. The salary cap increased this year by $2.4 million to $123 million, the most it has increased under the current collective-bargaining agreement, but not as much as it increased under the previous CBA.

“As for Ryan Clady, if he was not franchised, he could choose from several offers that would make him the highest-paid offensive tackle in football on the first day of free agency,” Dye said. “That dynamic makes being franchised very frustrating.”

Eugene Parker, head of Relativity Sports’ football division and agent for Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd, another tagged player, also cited cap room as a reason for the reduction. While he noted the tag “eats up” a team’s cap room, he said such a move “is something the rules allow them to do, and they did it.”

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had no comment on the decrease in franchise tags. “Each club makes its own decisions,” he stated in an email.

> VET IN, PROSPECT OUT: Five Star Athlete Management has signed Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Vance Walker. If not resigned by the Falcons, he will be an unrestricted free agent Tuesday. Five Star CEO and NFL agent Todd France will represent Walker. He was formerly represented by Universal Sports Management & Entertainment LLC.

Also, Five Star has parted ways with draft prospect Sam Montgomery, a defensive end from LSU. “We wish him the best of luck in the future but this decision was in the best interest of both parties involved,” France said in a statement.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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