How agents manipulate trades

There have been about seven times in my career when I’ve sought a trade for one of my clients. The majority of time the answer to me, as it is for most agents, was, “No.”

A player usually seeks a trade for one of two reasons: He wants more money, or he wants more playing time so he can get more money. And there’s the occasional superstar who just can’t co-exist with a head coach or general manager.

When a player tells his agent that he’s unhappy where he is and wants a trade, the agent most likely will do the following:

1) Call around and talk to NFL personnel to see if there’s legitimate interest and a market for the player. If there’s interest, he’ll find out which teams might be willing to give his client a new contract.

2) Leak to the media that the player wants a trade. This is done to alert the league that his player is in play. The agent hopes it will spawn unsolicited calls to the team. It also encourages the media to dig for reasons why the player is unhappy and then take a side. Public opinion may influence the process and even help create leverage for the player and agent.

3) Last, ask the team for permission to seek a trade. Or we may have to educate the client that it’s just not going to happen.

You might ask if talking to teams before seeking a trade is tampering if the other teams discuss it. The answer is yes. It’s tampering and it happens every year. A lot of agents and GMs trust each other enough that they feel comfortable having the discussion. However, I’m seeing more GMs insist on playing by the rules.

When Al Harris was with the Eagles, he wanted a trade. Because he was unhappy? No, because he was playing behind two Pro Bowlers: Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent. He loved Philly, his teammates and the coaches, but he wanted his own gig and was willing to play anywhere. I approached Eagles president Joe Banner about permission to seek a trade. He asked me to give him time to work on it, and if he couldn’t pull it off, he would then give me permission. Not long after, Al was shipped to Green Bay for a second-round draft pick.

Tim Dwight was another story. Many people forget that Falcons WR/KR Tim Dwight was part of the Chargers-Falcons trade for the Falcons’ Michael Vick pick. I was actually having lunch with Tim in San Diego when I received a call from the Chargers money man, who asked, “Jack, is Tim Dwight healthy?”

“Yes,” I said. “He’s sitting right across from me and he looks pretty damn healthy.”

“I’m serious,” he said, “I need to know if there are any issues.” Since we were right on the doorstep of the draft, I put two and two together and realized that Tim was being traded.

This was not a case of tampering because the Chargers had permission to talk to me by Atlanta and had already discussed Tim as part of the trade. Tim and I were caught completely off guard, but it was still welcomed.

To this day, then-head coach Mike Riley takes credit for the idea of getting Tim as the deal closer in a trade that was legendary in bringing LaDainian Tomlinson to the Chargers.

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