Seahawks starting left tackle Russell Okung is due to hit free agency after the 2015 NFL season, and he took to The Players Tribune to pen an article about why he'll represent himself.
"I know my worth. I can look at the market and go directly to a team without an agent and tell that team my worth," he said. "And I can do so with confidence because I've done my research, I've educated myself and I've questioned the answers I've been given. And when it comes to reviewing the details of my next deal, I'll hire an expert — a lawyer or a sports attorney who understands the dynamic of football contracts — to read the paperwork. I'll negotiate a one-time flat fee that isn't dependent on the size of my salary."
This is a bold strategy and in theory will save him the 2.5- to 3-percent commission that normally goes to an agent for negotiating a contract. Obviously, though, Okung will have to negotiate for himself, and that could be potentially risky for the uninitiated or inexperienced. Regardless, as the title of the article states, he's betting on himself to come away as a strong negotiator and to maximize his future earnings.
This self-representation will be an interesting dynamic when the Seahawks and Okung open talks for a potential long-term deal. As we all know, Seattle's got a pretty big group of players that still need to get paid big bucks, so it's unclear if Okung is part of the long-term plan.
While Okung encourages players to "take ownership" of their careers and act as their own agent, there's a lot more that goes into being an agent than just negotiations and he acknowledges that. Agents help with branding, financial planning, and importantly, prior to the draft, many agents pay for their clients' training programs in order to maximize their draft position. For non "star" players, having an agent can be important because of the relationships they have with teams, coaches, and GMs.
"There are undrafted free agents and 'journeymen' who constantly move from team to team. They spend the majority of their careers on the practice squad with the slim possibility of making a team before it's time to retire. I applaud their efforts; in so many ways they're the backbone of the league. And for guys like that, agents are useful. They have relationships with general managers to get workouts and start up initial conversations."
Read Okung's article here.