Russell Okung emailed every NFL team today to make them aware that he is due to have surgery on his dislocated left shoulder and that he'll be cleared to play within five months, reports Jason La Canfora. Okung is probably Seattle's top impending free agents and his contract with the Seahawks expires on March 9th.
Okung is likely looking to get out ahead of any concerns that teams will have regarding his health for the free agency period, but the fact is that his injury history is already pretty extensive. Okung has yet to play a full 16-game season and has missed 22 games in six seasons with the Hawks. That number includes three games missed in 2015.
It's just the first move in what will likely be a drawn out negotiation period as Okung looks to get the best possible deal. True negotiations cannot begin util the legal tampering period just before free agency, and the email actually obligates teams to email Seattle to tell them they received an email, as Mike Florio points out.
Okung's decision to send an email to all teams alerting them to the fact the he will be healthy in June after shoulder surgery doesn't constitute tampering. However, the anti-tampering policy prevents any team that received the message from engaging with him. It also mandates that any team who received it immediately alert the Seahawks.
Here's what the policy says: "If a club is contacted by a player (or his representative) who is under contract to or whose negotiating rights are held by another club, and such player had not been given permission to deal with other clubs, or such player is not in a permissible negotiating period under the terms of an operative collective bargaining agreement, then the contacted club is prohibited from talking or otherwise dealing with the player or his representative, and the contacted club must immediately report such contact to the owner or operating head of the club which holds the player's rights."
Unless the Seahawks authorized Okung to communicate with other teams (and if they did his email blast likely would have said so), no one can respond to the email without violating the rules.
Regardless, there's still a chance that Okung will test the market and realize it's not as strong as he'd hoped. In that case, he could potentially sign a one-year deal to remain in Seattle (or sign a long-term extension).
Okung said the day after the Carolina game that even if he leaves the Seahawks "Seattle is always going to be a home to me. It's been amazing what the community has been able to do for me and the people. It'll always be a place I'll come back to."
As for assessing his own market value, Okung said: "I've got a lot of different scenarios, looking at those other guys have been through. Mine will be my own and very particular to my situation. I'm excited about it ... No big surprises. I've been very intentional about my research and very intentional about understanding my situation, looking at it from a factual standpoint. Once I've been able do that, it's been pretty smooth. I've been willing to study, so I think I'll be fine."
Okung wrote about his decision to represent himself over at The Players Tribune back in July.
So, before I became a free agent, I decided to free my agent.
Now, I'm merely speaking from the heart because I witnessed â and continue to witness â this truth not only in my own situation, but through other players as well. I see guys who believe they need representation because they merely haven't considered an alternative.
Granted, there are plenty of guys who didn't take the same route as I did; guys who aren't in the same position as me. 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. But in my opinion, that expertise doesn't warrant a relationship that leads a player to believe he's inadequate without representation.
And because I know I'm more than adequate without representation, I'm betting on myself.
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. 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 â a lawyer or a sports attorney who understands the dynamic of football contracts â to read the paperwork. I'll negotiate a one-time flat fee that isn't dependent on the size of my salary.