Self-Representation Could be a Setback in NFL Free Agency

Self-Representation Could be a Setback in NFL Free AgencyCould self-representation be a setback in NFL free agency?

Free agency can be an exciting time for football players, but it can also be tough to navigate, especially as the window inches toward a close. This is why the help of an agent is often necessary.

Former Seattle Seahawk, Russell Okung, is hunting down a team in need of an offensive tackle, and he’s doing so on his own. While this isn’t unheard of, it’s not common either, and some have pegged it as the reason the Super Bowl XLVIII champion is still looking for a suitable deal.

Mike Florio, of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk, for instance, suggested that the offensive tackle’s decision to self-represent may have, thus far, had an adverse impact on his ability to nail down a deal. Additionally, as Joel Corry, a former NFL agent and current football writer pointed out, Okung’s decision to represent himself prevented him from participating in the legal tampering window, potentially putting him behind other free agents.

The setbacks of self-representation

The legal tampering window is the period during which NFL players’ agents can begin working out deals with teams. During the three-day period they cannot officially sign any documents, but they can hammer out the details of deals to come after the official start of free agency. Unlike many other free agents this year, Okung was not able to finalize a deal with a team during this window, and has since watched as various organizations snatch up offensive line players like Donald Penn and Kelechi Osemele.

Besides being setback by his inability to negotiate during the legal tampering window, Okung may also hurt himself by not hiring someone with better negotiating skills. That’s not necessarily a knock on his ability to negotiate, but rather an acknowledgement of the longstanding tradition of negotiation that agents represent in sports. Okung, unlike many available agents, has not endured negotiation processes year after year. As prepared as he may be, the simple fact is he still might not be as prepared as an agent.

“It poses a challenge for him to do a nice job with this process,” Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seahawks, told The Seattle Times.

Okung’s choice may be backfiring

For Okung, the decision to represent himself was quite a public affair. He made the announcement on Facebook, and while stressing that he has nothing against agencies, explained that “days of the oblivious athlete are over.” Unfortunately, the issue may not be whether or not athletes are oblivious. The problem may simply come down to experience. Okung has gone through the first week of free agency without the kind of offer he expected. Whether he gets one that is good for him in the short and long term remains to be seen. However, for now there are many eyes on the offensive tackle’s foray into self representation.

If you’re trying to decide between representing yourself or are considering seeking representation from an experienced NFL agent, don’t hesitate to contact one today. These individuals are well-versed in sports law and contract negotiation, and could prove to be a better option.

Otherwise, for related articles having to do with free agency, check out:

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Anthony R. Caruso is a business transactional attorney in New York and New Jersey with experience in structuring, negotiation and completion of legal deals involving business, entrepreneurs, athletes and performers.

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