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Volume 23 No. 13
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NFL player agents to sound off on proposed changes to rep model

The NFL Players Association is likely to get an earful from agents concerned about possible changes to their representation business model at the union’s agent meeting during the NFL combine in Indianapolis this week.

The NFLPA formed an agent committee about a year ago to discuss potential changes, including reducing the maximum fee agents can charge from 3 percent to 2 percent. This week’s meeting will be the first time most agents will get a chance to speak out about any of the proposals, and several said they plan to.

“We are trying to find out exactly what’s going on,” said one NFL agent, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on union business. “Are the [NFLPA player] reps voting on a fee reduction or are they not? Does the union agree with it or not agree with it?”

NFLPA President Eric Winston said if there are any changes to the regulations they will be enacted at the players’ annual meeting in March in Maui. At that same meeting last March, the NFLPA formed the committee to study fee reduction, among other things, including whether to provide an in-house service for players who want to negotiate their own contracts without an agent.

Winston said last week that he didn’t know what regulations may be passed at the Maui meeting this year. “Our players discuss all sorts of ideas every year at our annual meeting,” Winston said. “Until we get there and discuss them, there is no way to know how they will vote or if there will be anything to vote on.”

Winston confirmed that the NFLPA will not hold its small meeting of influential agents this year, as it has done in the past. That is because the union held an invitation-only confidential meeting of top NFL agents at its Washington, D.C., headquarters on Nov. 10 (SportsBusiness Journal, Nov. 23-29). “We had one during the season and don’t want to be redundant,” he said.

At that meeting, which agents have dubbed “the secret agent meeting” because participants were told not to tell anyone about it, NFLPA player leaders discussed reducing the maximum agent fee to 2 percent. The 15 agents there came from agencies that represent a large number of high-profile players in the league and all argued against it, participants of the meeting said.

Last week, there was an effort by some agents to get others to speak out at the combine meeting. “It would be my hope that all agents, not just the ones at the meeting in November, would make it a point to show solidarity and express to the union leaders for their conveyance to the player reps the agents’ true feelings about any mandatory reduction in agent fees,” another agent said. “The forum in Indianapolis will be perfect because every agent will be there, from big to small, male to female, and they can all express it to the union from the rank and file with the hope they will express this to the player reps.”

A third NFL agent, a young agent who has been in the business only a few years, said agents reached out to him, asking him to speak out and ask questions about the regulations and what was being proposed. “I heard that was going to be 90 percent of the meeting: trying to find out what’s going on with that,” the agent said of the proposed fee reduction.

Told that NFL agents planned to speak out at the combine meeting, Winston said he welcomed their input. “Great,” he said. “That’s what the meeting is for. They are given a forum every year to ask questions. This year won’t be different.”