Leverage, respect, and style

Have you ever wondered why some deals get done and others don’t? Well, it usually comes down to three factors.


ThIs always the number one reason that deals do or don’t get done. If the player can impact the outcome of the game, he has the leverage to get the deal done. That’s why we rarely ever see a starting QB hold out. The good ones sell tickets and impact the bottom line in the wins and lost column. Those deals get done because the team has little choice but to do them, as long as the players are asking for realistic market dollars. I believe the only reason the Darrelle Revis deal got done is because he ultimately had the leverage. The New York Jets’ defensive scheme and current personnel rely heavily on his skill set. We all know that mutual respect and the agent’s style didn’t get it done, as the relationship between the GM and agent has never been a good one.

Mutual respect

Many NFL agents and GMs go way back. Actually, there are several GMs who started so low on the food chain they were in charge of picking up players and agents when they flew into town. I can count five current GMs, many of whom are my age (48) or younger now, that gave me a ride. One thing I always did was to get to know these guys and treat them with respect. However, there were many agents who treated them like Ari Gold’s assistant.

I know that many of the relationships I forged in the past have paid dividends for my clients, and I'm sure the same can be said for a number of other agents. As a matter of fact , some general managers are represented by those same agents they met while climbing the food chain.

When an agent and GM have a long-term mutually respectful relationship, it can make for a smooth negotiation because both sides show their cards early, trust each other, and communicate frequently. When they don’t, it can get pretty ugly for the player. For example, there is one mega agency and an AFC West team that have a deep disgust for one another. Deals rarely get done between the two, and much drama seems to linger afterwards for the ones that do.


The majority of GMs hate dealing with the media. It’s something that they were never formally trained to do as former scouts or salary cap managers. Therefore, when an agent’s style is to send messages through the media to embarrass the team and gain public support for his player, things tend to go south quickly. Direct communications break down, mutual resentment builds and neither side wants to look like the loser in the showdown.

Agents who shy away from the media during negotiations are preferred by GMs. Recently retired agent Marvin Demoff, who was loved and respected by most front offices, represented some of the biggest names in football, but you rarely ever heard of him. If you Google him you will most likely see a lot of stories saying, “Marvin Demoff did not respond when contacted for comment."

Those agents who use the media to help get want they want can win once in a while, especially when they have leverage, but most likely will lose more battles than they will win as they stand out of favor with most GMs.

The deals that get done quietly and quickly are usually the result of having all three components in place. In the Revis situation, “leverage” ultimately won out, but the lack of mutual respect made it a painful process for both sides. The winner? HBO!

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