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Volume 23 No. 29
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NFLPA to use combine to update agents on regs overhaul

The NFL Players Association will update the agent community on its plans to overhaul the regulations governing contract advisers at the NFL combine this week, NFLPA President Eric Winston said.

Winston and members of the NFLPA’s Committee on Agent Regulation and Discipline have been working since June on a broad review of the NFLPA-certified agent rules, because of concern among players about the quality of representation. Members of the committee have met about a dozen agents in the last year.

“That is one thing I wanted to do,” Winston said. “We called on big-time agents, small-time agents, medium-sized agents.”

WINSTON
Any changes to the regulations would be voted on by the NFLPA board of player representatives, which will meet in mid-March in Hawaii. The agent meeting at the combine in Indianapolis is scheduled for Friday.

The NFLPA also sent out questionnaires to agents on the subject of marketing guarantees that agents make to players. Current regulations prohibit agents from giving players an inducement to sign with them, but some agents have complained that marketing guarantees are, for practical purposes, an inducement. The agent regulations do not prohibit marketing guarantees, which some agents give to players on the basis of future marketing income they may earn.

Agents have argued privately that giving a marketing guarantee to an offensive guard, for example, is really an inducement because players at that position typically do not generate much interest from potential sponsors. Some players, however, like getting guaranteed money from agents, and the NFLPA is run by players, not agents.

“We have done a lot of work and there aren’t any easy answers, unfortunately,” Winston said. “A lot of the time at the combine will be [spent] deciding what CARD wants to do in that area.”

Winston indicated that the committee may toughen the exam that prospective agents take to become
NFLPA-certified. The NFLPA gives all agent applicants a test on the collective-bargaining agreement, and about 70 percent pass. “We are looking at improving the agent tests to ensure the highest quality of individuals are representing the players,” Winston said.

> CARD SUSPENDS AGENT: One of the things CARD does is issue discipline against NFL agents who break the regulations, and last week the committee suspended Vinnie Porter after he was charged by federal authorities with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Porter represented seven players: New York Giants linebacker Devon Kennard, New England wide receiver Brian Tyms, Miami safety Jordan Kovacs, San Francisco tight end/long snapper Kyle Nelson, Washington wide receiver Rashad Ross, Cincinnati running back James Wilder Jr. and Denver offensive tackle Michael Schofield.

When an agent is suspended, any agreement to represent a player is immediately terminated and those players are free to find a new agent. As of last week, none of Porter’s former clients had signed with other agents.

Porter was suspended until his criminal charges are resolved, George Atallah, NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs, told SportsBusiness Journal. In the meantime, the NFLPA will conduct its own investigation into the matter. Porter’s attorney declined to comment.

> BASEBALL PLAYERS SWITCH AGENTS: Select Sports Group has signed Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jarred Cosart for representation. At Select Sports Group, he will be represented by Erik Burkhardt, Matthew Frazier and Jeff Nalley. He was represented by Excel Sports Management. … Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts has signed with Relativity Sports. He was represented by Wasserman Media Group. … Beverly Hills Sports Council has signed Arizona Diamondbacks prospect and pitcher Touki Toussaint, who was a first-round draft pick in 2014. At BHSC, Toussaint will be represented by Rick Thurman and Nate Heisler. He was represented by Wasserman.

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