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Volume 22 No. 23

Labor and Agents

Veteran NFL agent Kelli Masters has signed a larger than usual class of players for the NFL draft this year, including Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius.

 

Kelli Masters Management also has signed Oklahoma tight end Carson Meier, Texas A&M offensive guard Keaton Sutherland, North Texas wide receiver Jalen Guyton, Texas offensive guard Patrick Vahe, Michigan State linebacker Andrew Dowell and Texas A&M kicker Daniel LaCamera.

 

Masters, who has been certified by the NFL Players Association since 2005, usually signs two to four players, but this year, she said, she actually had to turn players down.

 

“Players do seem to be more accepting of women as agents, and that will continue to evolve,” Masters said. “The fact that I have represented a number of NFL players and other athletes over the years has helped build trust and credibility, not only for myself and my company, but for other women in the industry as well. Established agencies are now hiring more women in contract advisor roles, where that simply was not the case 10 to 15 years ago.”

 

Masters noted that some of her best clients went undrafted, including Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin, who went unchosen out of Oklahoma State in 2017. Jarwin won NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 17 of last season for his performance against the New York Giants, which included three touchdowns.

 

NFL agent Kelli Masters with clients and draft prospects (front row, from left) Keaton Sutherland, Andrew Dowell and Jalen Guyton, and (back row) Dallas’ Blake Jarwin.
Photo: KMM

KMM is located in Oklahoma City, situated between the University of Oklahoma in Norman and Oklahoma State in Stillwater. She co-represented — with agent Ben Dogra — Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was drafted No. 3 overall by Tampa Bay in the 2010 NFL draft.

 

This year, Masters doesn’t have any projected first-round picks, but her quarterback client, Cornelius, is drawing some attention — ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said he could be a late-round pick — even though he started only one year at Oklahoma State. Cornelius played behind Mason Rudolph, who was selected in the third round of last year’s draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. This year, the 6-foot-6 Cornelius passed for 3,973 yards and 32 touchdowns.

 

“There is always a shot with any tall, strong-armed quarterback,” NFL Draft Scout editor Rob Rang said of the chances of him being drafted. “Whether he is actually selected with a late-round pick or not, Cornelius will almost surely get a shot this summer with an NFL [team] or other professional league.”

 

WOMAN COULD REP NO. 1 PICK: Rap mogul Lil Wayne did not play a role in Young Money APAA signing Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who could be the first pick in this year’s NFL draft, according to his agent, Nicole Lynn.

 

“The reason why he signed with me is because I have never had a first-round pick,” Lynn said last week. “He told me I am an underdog like him and somebody had to believe in him, so somebody’s going to believe in me.”

 

Lynn is a 30-year-old associate at the Houston office of national law firm Norton Rose Fulbright as well as a member of the Young Money APAA agency, which was acquired by Lil Wayne in late 2017.

 

Last year, NFL agent Kim Miale represented Saquon Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick by the New York Giants and the highest-drafted player ever to be represented by a woman. Miale works for Roc Nation Sports, the agency formed by another rap mogul, Jay-Z. “I think the difference here is Lil Wayne does not play a role,” Lynn said. “He is a musician, that is what he focuses on.”

 

Lynn became a certified NFL agent in 2015 after interning at the NFL Players Association. Ken Sarnoff, who is also an agent with Young Money APAA, is a mentor, she said, and they co-rep several players together, including Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts, Raiders safety Erik Harris and Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Jordan Evans.

 

STABLER SIGNS PROSPECT: Stabler Sports has signed Troy University wide receiver Deondre Douglas for representation in the NFL draft. Alexa Stabler, the daughter of late Hall of Fame quarterback Ken Stabler who founded her NFL player representation firm about a year ago, will represent Douglas.

 

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

American Coco Vandeweghe, now 27, became a star during her years with CAA.
Photo: Getty Images

CAA Sports exited the tennis business last month, letting go all of its player clients, including Genie Bouchard, Marin Cilic, Taylor Fritz and Coco Vandeweghe.

CAA, a powerhouse in representing team sports athletes, entered the tennis business in 2008 with the purchase of an agency owned by former pro Amit Naor, who was at the agency until CAA fired him in late 2017 after an investigation into allegations that he had sexually harassed a female division employee.

In a statement, CAA said last week, “There was not a sufficient opportunity for us in the representation of tennis players, and as such, we made a strategic decision to exit the business.”

As first reported by Sports Business Journal last summer, after Naor was fired, CAA soon after fired another agent, Rick Montz, for allegedly failing to do his job. Montz denied the charge and contended he was fired for standing up for Stephanie Lopez, the tennis division employee who had accused Naor of harassment. Naor did not respond to the allegations at the time despite repeated requests for comment.

Lopez went on leave in May 2018 after accusing CAA of retaliating against her for reporting on Naor. CAA denied the claims, saying it had acted with “thoroughness, thoughtfulness and fairness” throughout the investigation and “determined unequivocally that there was no retaliation.”

Lopez’s lawyers were notified this month via email that she also was being let go from CAA as part of the dissolution of the tennis division.

As of December there were only two active tennis-only division employees remaining, Matt Elefant and Matt Fawcett. Elefant left CAA in December and now works for World TeamTennis. Fawcett now works on his own as an agent. The ATP said he represents Cilic, Fritz and Ryan Harrison. Fawcett did not reply for comment.

During its run, CAA represented players including Novak Djokovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Andy Murray, all Grand Slam winners.