The agent cycle

I get asked many times, “When is your busy season?” My reply is, “September to April.”

For those agents with 50 or more clients, there is no down time. And for agents trying to build or maintain a mega-sized clientele, the treadmill is running 365 days a year.

My cycle begins in June and ends in May. Here’s a month by month breakdown of my schedule. It might be similar for most agents but not necessarily identical.

June: This is when the National Scouting Combine list is distributed to member NFL teams. Therefore, incoming seniors have a draft grade and the list somehow makes its way into the hands of agents. The national list becomes a prospect sheet for most agents. I actually haven’t had a copy of the list in a few years since it’s harder to get, but I identify prospects based on the opinions of my scouting network. So for me, June is some light initial recruiting: letters, brochures, emails and a few phone calls to about 10 prospects. It’s also vacation time. Most NFL front office execs, coaches and players take time off in June, so it’s safe to get some down time. I travel to Europe and visit a new country each year -- 23 and counting. Other agencies start recruiting as early as March.

July: The month is filled with some follow-up recruiting and a few face-to-face meetings with prospects and/or their parents before the players head to camp. There may be some contract talks for veterans trying to get extensions done before camps start. Rookie draft-pick deals are front and center this month. Some endorsement deals may be finalized, especially with Nike and Reebok.

August: This is the month I plan my football season. I decide which NFL games I’m going to attend, what players I want to sign and what days I need to set aside in November, December and even January to have final meetings with college prospects. August is also filled with a few camp visits, some rookie counseling, some injury settlements/discussions and lots of phone calls to front offices checking on clients. There may be some veteran contract extension talks as well. This is not a travel-intensive month, but I have to be on alert and accessible.

September: This month usually kicks off with handling player cuts, player movement and getting rookies set up in their new team city. If I have a player cut and not re-signed, I’m on the phone trying to get him placed. I will also start visiting clients. Thursday night, I was at the Steelers game visiting Tyrone Carter, and I was in Cleveland over the weekend to see Browns guard Eric Steinbach and Vikings safety Tyrell Johnson.

October: I’m on the road attending NFL games and maybe a few college games. I represent some coaches, such as Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh and Green Bay assistant head coach Winston Moss, so I’ll also make time to see these guys as well. Because I live in San Diego, I’ll stay home when a client plays against the Chargers and usually see them for dinner the night before the game.

November: More NFL games and visiting with clients. Some face-to-face meetings with college prospects who have finished their regular season. The intensity picks up this month.

December: November segues into December with more NFL games and more meetings with college prospects. Seniors who have bowl games in January may take their final agent meetings on a weekend off from practice. This is a travel-intense month. There may also be a lot of activity and travel for agents who represent college coaches.

January: This is the busiest month of the year for football agents. There are usually a few more final meetings with prospects who are making their decisions on agents. I may meet for a second or third time with a prospect and sometimes for the first time with college players who waited until January to start the agent selection process. I also will attend the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game week, go to a playoff game or even a college bowl game. It’s not unusual for an agent to sign a player a few hours after his final game. I’ve welcomed the New Year in places like Tempe, El Paso and Pasadena waiting for a signature. In addition to traveling to visit clients and prospects, I may have a prospect visit me in San Diego for a final meeting. Some players fly to see several agents before making their final decision. On top of everything else this month, if you represent pro coaches as I do, you’re going to be busy. For example, last year Winston Moss had two head coaching interviews.

February: You may find me and other agents checking in on their rookie clients at a training facility. I will also be gearing up for deal-making at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Every year, I usually have a veteran free agent coming up (contracts are up at the end of this month), so I’ll prepare my pitch and price. I also may attend the Super bowl and the Pro Bowl.

March: Free agency takes center stage as the first week, if not the first day, of March is dominated by deal-making and shopping your free agents. This is also the month of college pro days. Many agents will attend these to cheer on their clients and even help manage the day itself. Some schools deny access to agents while others have an open-door policy. Some agents may attend as many as seven pro days this month. It’s also an excuse to get a peek (and maybe even an introduction) to the incoming seniors for that season.

April: April is usually the first month since the previous summer that agents can exhale. NFL teams are focused on the draft, your draftees are done working out and your free agents should be placed. Although there may be lots of phone work, there’s little in the way of travel. Some agents spend draft day with their clients as I sometimes do. It’s also tax time. I invite my rookies out to San Diego for a few days to relax at one of my beachfront condos. It’s a great opportunity to get to know my new clients better and prepare their expectations for draft day.

May: This is a slow month for me as there is little travel and little activity in the NFL. However, more aggressive agents use this time as a recruiting month. I use it to recharge my batteries.

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