Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sign Here Please

Here is a little from my latest post on SportsAgentBlog.com titled, Sign Here Please: Are NFL Contracts Getting Harder to Negotiate?
Finally! Three months after the 2010 NFL Draft, the first contract for a first-round draft pick has been signed. On July 22nd, Dez Bryant, the 24th overall pick, reached an agreement with the Dallas Cowboys for a five year contract worth up to $11.8 million, including $8.5 million guaranteed. According to the National Football Post, the deal has a signing bonus and first-year roster bonus totaling $2.52 million. It also includes a $3.185 million one-time incentive clause and no second-year option bonus. The wide receiver will earn a base salary of $320,000 this year and has several escalators and bonuses tied in to playing time.

Dez is at camp and has already caused a ruckus. Here is a video interview with Bryant from Dallas camp over the weekend, where he states that he will not carry Roy Williams pads or do any of the other traditional rookie chores or gags. Dez says that he was brought to Dallas to win games, not to carry teammates’ pads.

At a press conference the day after Bryant signed, Jerry Jones thanked Bryant’s agent Eugene Parker of Maximum Sports Management for working with the Cowboys to help make a deal before camp possible. Parker represents Michael Crabtree, the 49ers WR that held out well into the regular season last year. Parker had also represented previous Cowboys first-round selections Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins, and had both reporting late to Cowboys camp. With reports claiming that Parker wanted to make a deal with the Cowboys ASAP and ultimately signing a contract only a few days later, it looks like he learned some lessons from the Crabtree holdout and his previous dealings with the Cowboys in Jerryland.

And since the NCAA started investigating several schools last week for impermissible agent/player benefits, let’s not forget what happened to Dez Bryant last season when he only played in three games because of an NCAA suspension for lying to NCAA investigators about dinner and a meeting with Eugene Parker’s former star NFL client, Deion Sanders. Did Parker try harder to get Bryant into camp with a contract and no holdout because he felt responsible for Bryant losing his eligibility last season? Maybe the NCAA even learned something from Dez Bryant’s dilemma at Oklahoma State, and has picked up the level of enforcement this year (or maybe they stumbled upon these NCAA violations from a student athlete’s Tweet about a trip to Miami with the boys).

Anyway, with Bryant’s contract negotiated, the Cowboys began training camp this Saturday with a full roster and no worries about a potential hold out by the player they moved up in the draft to grab. But will Bryant’s signing spur other first round picks to finalize their contracts in the near future? Are NFL contracts getting harder to negotiate? Are agents demanding more money and holding out, or are contract terms and clauses delaying the process or even causing an impasse?

This year’s first overall pick Sam Bradford and his agent Tom Condon recently started negotiations with the Rams. Condon and Bradford are looking to negotiate the richest contract in NFL history. One worth around $45-$50 million in guaranteed money.

The sooner Condon can work a deal, the better for Pro Bowl veteran quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who will be using the numbers from Bradford’s expected large rookie deal as a barometer for their own contract negotiations. Peyton is even represented by Condon. Brady is rumored to be looking for somewhere around $20 million a year. He is set to make $6.5 million this year($3.5 base) after a negotiating a $3 million bonus in March. Perhaps Brady wants to beat Peyton in next year’s Fortunate 50 US Athletes. Peyton is the only NFL player in the top ten (#9) of the list, earning a total of $30.8 million including endorsements ($15 million).

Condon surely isn’t the only agent attempting to finalize a contract for his clients. With training camps rapidly approaching for all NFL teams, we will likely see a barrage of draft picks signing contracts and rolling in the “quam,” as Rod Tidwell would say. We all know Drew Rosenhaus and the RSR crew are out there working hard and smart for Terrell Owens and the many other NFL clients on their high profile roster.

According to NFLLabor.com, through Saturday (based on official notification to the league office), 71 percent of the players selected in the 2010 NFL Draft (182 of 255) have signed contracts. Through Thursday, July 22, 163 of the 255 players selected in the 2010 NFL Draft had signed contracts, up from 126 of 256 draft choices signed as of July 22, 2009. As of July 24th, among players selected in the first three rounds – 26 have signed this year vs. 20 at this time last year, an increase of 30 percent. Through midnight on July 25th, a total of 33 players selected in the first three rounds have been signed.

Although the velocity of overall players signing contracts has increased this year, the number of first round players signing contracts early has certainly not followed suit.

Before Dez Bryant signed, Vlad Ducasse, the 61st overall pick by the New York Jets, was the first second-round draft pick to sign a contract (Props to Mike Tannenbaum, Ari Nissim and the rest of the Jets management for doing a great job with so many contracts this off-season. There’s still a couple more BIG deals to negotiate). Only four other second-round picks have signed since Vlad. Two of them signed over the weekend. Here is an up to the minute, team-by-team list of all the players drafted in 2010 who have signed with their clubs.

While some people are shocked and amazed when they hear that Bryant was the first first-round pick to sign a contract, and that it was so close to the beginning of camp, this is not the first time the first contract has been negotiated so late. Logan Mankins, the 32nd pick of the Patriots in 2005, was the most recent first first-round draft pick to have signed this late- and he signed on July 25th of 2005.

.....for the rest of the article please click on the link below and read it from SportsAgentBlog.com


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