ProFootballTalk – At a time when all the top incoming rookies are picking their agents, former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield’s choice may be none of the above.
Via Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Daily, the Heisman winner currently is trying to decide whether to hire an agent, and he possibly won’t.
This story flew sort of under the radar yesterday (as opposed to the subject of the story, who often flies too close to the sun, buh dun bshhh). Baker Mayfield, Heisman Trophy winner and hell-spawn amalgamation of Johnny Football and Phillip Rivers, may not sign with an agent. I know there are a number of NFL veterans out there that don’t work with an agent for reasons unto themselves, Russell Okung being possibly the biggest name among them, but a rookie flying solo is rare. The closest thing that comes to mind is when Ricky Williams allowed Master P to represent him in his rookie contract negotiations. It breaks my heart knowing I’m so old that a lot of people reading this have zero clue what that last sentence meant, or how bad of an idea it was both from the jump and upon seeing how said negotiations played out for Williams. Hint: It is often referred to as the worst deal for a player of all time. Baker Mayfield choosing to sign with no agent rather than a rapper is a little better than that arrangement but is still problematic for a couple of reasons.
I think the first thing of importance to note is that for rookies, which Baker Mayfield will be for approximately one year, an agent’s job can be seen from a high-level as administrative. They represent their client in the truest sense of the word – taking the calls and preparing the documents a professional athlete doesn’t want to deal with. This is because as of a couple years ago the NFL introduced a rookie wage scale that basically writes rookie deals themselves. With that said, a good agent can affect the rookie deal of a first round pick, which Mayfield very well may be, in a positive manner to some extent, exploiting what little wiggle room there is in terms of guaranteed money, etc. However, barring things like catastrophic injury, most of the money in rookie deals is what it is, and up to the player himself to earn.
The first of what I see as two major problems with Baker Mayfield not signing with an agent is the fact that, as I previously mentioned and as is widely known, you are a rookie for one year. Mayfield is entering the draft at the position of Quarterback, the most important position on a football field, and hopefully of the Franchise Quarterback variety as well. So, if all goes well and the Franchise Quarterback performs satisfactorily, on top of having bountiful endorsements to work out thanks to the player being the face of a franchise, a good agent could get to work pretty much right away on putting a bug in the team’s ear regarding an extension for more money over more years. Now, these extensions are rarely given before the 3rd year for 4 year rookie deals or the 4th year for 5 year deals, but the conversations could at least start taking place right? Will Baker Mayfield be taking time out of his, you know, professional football player schedule during week 3 of his 2nd year to discuss the future? Will his team really love him having to do that? That’s probably a no to both and thus bad business strategy for #6.
The 2nd, and definitely bigger problem for Baker Mayfield here, is that not signing with a professional agent, as every other rookie does and is advised to do, does not show, well, at least not emphatically good decision making in terms of the non-football playing part of his life. Poor decision making in terms of the non-football playing part of his life is sort of a major red flag in Mayfield’s file, really the most major one actually, so this really could bode poorly for his draft stock. To recap, he left Texas Tech due to a “miscommunication with coaches,” tried to drunkenly practice the 40 yard dash away from a cop, to no avail, and was booked for a drunk and disorderly thereafter, and then, in a passionate moment after throwing a TD against Kansas earlier this season, tugged at his crotch area and offered the Kansas sideline the opportunity to perform acts on said area. To decide that the fate of the millions of dollars coming his way would be best left to himself, Baker Mayfield, can arguably be seen as a not so great decision, which, given his height and perceived not-superior arm strength (I think that part is bullshit but w.e), he can’t afford going into the draft.
Agents serve their clients. There are no two ways around that. They are there for the athlete and the athlete is the boss. I know it probably chaps a lot of athlete’s asses that their agent takes 10% of the money the he/she earns from ravaging their body, but as a wise man once said, it’s the way of the road, Bubs. To that end, Baker Mayfield should, if nothing else, hire a mouthpiece, a certified NFLPA agent in a $1,000.00 dollar suit, to just “be his agent” under the conditions that Baker Mayfield is his own man. We already know that after all.