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The biggest mistake made by agents

Overpricing a player in free agency can lead to the market drying up for the player’s services. Jack Bechta

Print This April 17, 2013, 10:30 AM EST

For those agents who were looking to hit it big this year, they may have missed the boat and did a huge disservice to their client. I know of one AFC DB who was offered about $5 million per year from his then current team with about $10 million in guarantees. The agent demanded in the $7 to 9 million per year range according to two GMs I spoke to. This year however, the player ended up signing a short-term deal valued at about $2 million per year with a new team. Ouch! Now can that player eventually hit it big if he plays extremely well? Yes, maybe, but as of now the marketplace didn’t highly value his skills/play this year, so it would take a pro bowl type season to get there, thus, the agent is betting on that to happen. This scenario usually occurs with young and inexperienced agents who were hoping to make a splash signing with their client, but is out of sync with the reality of the marketplace. And/or, they just don’t have the relationships with salary cap managers and GMs to get the appropriate information needed to establish the player’s value.

Leading up to free agency, it’s the agent’s job to get his client mentally and emotionally prepared for every potential outcome, including setting the expectation for a contract below what the player may think he’s worth. Now this can be tricky because if you are telling your client he’s not going to get what he thinks he is worth, then he may fire you and move on to someone who is telling him what he wants to hear. This is where a strong relationship built on trust and communication can protect a client from himself.

One GM just told me last week that, “agents who just don’t understand football, the X and O’s and the complexities on how rosters are shaped are usually biggest culprits in overpricing their clients.”

Some agents just don’t have the courage to tell their clients what the marketplace is saying and just keep holding out hope for a big deal to magically appear. Every now and then a team will overpay for a player and negotiate against themselves and the agent may get his asking price. However, I feel the salary cap managers, the owners and GMs are getting a better handle on valuating players.

For those players who were asked to take a pay cut this year and refused, many found themselves on the street and may have wish they took the deal. Again, the agent’s job is to prepare their client for this situation. Players’ values can go up and down like stocks and agents have to be in tune with what the market is willing to bear and just as important, when it will bear it.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta  

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