The Agent’s Role in NFL Contract Negotiations

Okay, so now let’s get into the services you need to provide your athletes. I’m going to break it down into four major categories:
1) Representation
2) Business Services
3) Brand Management
4) Total Human Optimization to use a phrase coined by

Keep in mind, that there will be some crossover with these.

Today, I’ll discuss the representation aspect, as this is the first and most important tenet of being an agent. Like I’ve previously said, negotiations on rookie contracts aren’t what they used to be due to the new slotted contract figures since the 2011 CBA. Of course, negotiations in future contracts are still very important.

In terms of representation, you want to focus on building your skills in a few fields especially:
• Negotiations
• Understanding team’s salary cap issues and team needs
• Knowledge of player values
• Understand the Free Agency market each year and each upcoming year
• Understanding contracts

This is a subject I would like your feedback most on as readers because it’s the field I’m, admittedly, most unfamiliar with as I haven’t been in the industry yet as I’m still a student. These are all issues that I go to Over The Cap for as it’s been a great asset for my eduation, Spotrac is a good site as well. My advice is to just keep reading up on contracts and articles on contracts. Take notes, understand the details of the deals, understand the values of players, create your own systems and processes for analyzing contracts. Feel free to send me your thoughts on these systems as well.


I took a negotiations class this spring and it’s most easily summed up by a need for you to understand your needs, the other side’s needs, and working out the best deal for everyone involved. You also need to understand the marketplace, the industry, and the any other details surrounding the negotiation. You have an ongoing relationship with these teams and by building a strong, fair relationship with them from the start, you’ll build trust and complete better deals. You’ll also have their ear whenever you call them about a client of yours that you believe in.

I look at being an agent like you would any sales job. You want to sell a product, a player, you believe in. This is like an B2B (business-2-business) sales, it’s all about your relationships. What do people think about when they see that you’re calling them? Do they get excited to see what you want to talk about or do they grimace and sigh?

One idea I’ve thought about a lot is the fact that you do not want to get your player a contract that they can’t live up to, an unfair deal, you don’t want them to be on a contract that severely hurts their team’s chances to win. That kills a player’s reputation with the team’s town and across the league. Fans hate players who waste their team’s money, so you’re hurting their brand.

The next tenent I’ve created for being a good agent is an understanding of each team’s salary cap and their needs. As a salesman, you find your target market for your product and as an agent, you find the best team for your client. If you’re representing a guy who can be a great slot WR for the right team, you wouldn’t try and sell him to the New England Patriots or the Denver Broncos. You’d find a team with the right offense and the right team needs for your client to succeed.


An agent’s job is to understand the market for each of your player’s services, you don’t want your player to be somewhere he isn’t needed and a team is less likely to give him the money he deserves if they don’t have a specific need at that position. You create value for your client by finding them the best chance to succeed, the team that needs them the most. You also build a strong relationship with management of these teams by helping them build their roster in a manner that will help them succeed.

One thing Jason and I have both research is what it takes to build a championship football team. I broke down last season’s team cap spending by each position, then I looked at the amount of money 12-plus win teams spent on positions and 12-plus loss teams spent on positions. To make it something I could use for future seasons, I also looked at the percentage of the cap they spent on each position. This is something Jason has done really well with his new Super Bowl Champion cap spending series.

My goal as an agent will be to put my players in the best position to get the most value they can get, while also putting them in a position to succeed. I’d love to get a running back an Adrian Peterson type salary, but is that the best thing you can do for the success of the team and in turn your player’s brand? Can you get more of the money in a signing bonus, so they get the money they’re worth, but want them to have a manageable contract for their team. Of course, you want to get them their market value allowed by the free agency market, I’m just raising some questions that, I think, are worth asking.

Making sure your clients are on a winning team or a city where they can build the personal brand is a real concern as players begin to build these brands off the field. It’s great to make your money on the field, but it’s also great to be able to put “Super Bowl Champion” next to your name for the rest of your life.

I will also work to get my client’s the most value I can get for them, but I also want them to succeed statistically and in the win column. Russell Wilson is a great quarterback, but he isn’t the Russell Wilson brand he is right now without being on a great team. Put Wilson on the Jets (sorry Jason) and he’s not signing endorsement deals with Microsoft.

You also want to understand the upcoming marketplace in free agency. Understand who else will be on the market during any given offseason, a deep knowledge of the marketplace gives you an advantage over other agents.

These are all a part of what it takes to handle your role as a representative and negotiator for your client and his NFL contract. I’m sure we’ll discuss some other issues in representing your clients in future articles here, but that’s enough for today.

Coming next, we’ll discuss the role of the agent in the arena of business services. This is something I can expand on in a better manner than negotiations as I haven’t sat across the table from a team yet. Much more to come in this series.

As always, #BeAmerican out there my friends.

Zack Moore
Supplements: Onnit


An Introduction to being an NFL Agent: Part 2

A couple weeks ago, I started developing a “process” for myself, for the last few years, I’ve known what I want to accomplish, but I knew I needed to write down my process and refocus myself. First, I want to tell you about the man behind the process.

My mentor during my college years was a great friend by the name of Dr. Kevin Elko. He is currently the “head” coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida State Seminoles, so he has been a part of four of the last five national championships. He’s won Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. He’s also won national championships with LSU (2004), Miami, and the North Carolina basketball team.

Dr. Elko is the best in the business in terms of mental performance and motivational speaking. I’ve never heard him speak to a team, but friends of mine who have listened to him at Alabama, Florida State, as well as Rutgers and Pittsburgh in the 2000s discuss how he always got the team feeling that level of supreme confidence that they would win. Many of you have seen Elko’s work first hand, he is the man behind “The Chop” at Rutgers Football during the Schiano years.

Elko is someone whom we will come back to discuss later this week, if you’re interested in him, check him out at

Anyway, I began developing my process because to become a great NFL agent, you’re going to have a lot of different stuff going on and I need to keep my eyes on my life goals.

As followed is a list of what I’m currently involved in as well as the relationships I’m building with businesses that will be major assets for our clients and Athlete Advocates. Of course, in turn, we believe that we will also be a major asset to the people we do business with, every business relationship should have mutual gain.


• Like I’ve previously said, I’m an MBA student at Rutgers. I have a concentration in marketing and entrepreneurship, you’ll see why over the course of this series.

• I own a small business in Currently, we simply sell “Be American” apparel, but we’re going to pivot as I become a certified NFL agent and gain clients as we can turn it into a retail site for the products and companies that our clients are involved with. As I’ll discuss on here, we have brand management strategies that include content creation, marketing, endorsements, entrepreneurship, charities, and other business dealings.

• Over the first half of this year, I wrote a business plan with my entrepreneurship teacher to start an “Amazon style online retailer for American made goods,” but I found out that launched during the time I was writing my plan. American Certified launched in May after 18 months of preparation as well as investing over $500,000, so I decided I should join forces with them, rather than compete.

I contacted their CEO Marvin Weinberger and have begun working with them as an intern. They like my marketing strategies that I’ve presented them with as well as my strategies of endorsements through athletes, celebrities, and content creators. American Certified will be a major asset for my clients for endorsement deals from American manufacturers and my clients will be an asset for these businesses and American Certified. This is something I will go into in a business blog this week.

• I sell Onnit products on my website and I’m always and I’m always trying to stay abreast with everything happening with them. I discovered them on the Joe Rogan Experience, which opened my eyes to marketing strategies that we will be using with our athletes. They are also a part of the future plans of our agency as we see the potential for endorsement deals for our clients along with supplements. (Onnit)

• Off of the lessons I’ve learned from Joe Rogan and Onnit, I should mention our content creation strategies that we hope to implement with our players. If you’ve followed, then you’ve seen some great guest articles from players like Russell Wilson, Vernon Davis and many other players. The NFL is full of highly intelligent guys and our firm intends on helping our clients take advantage of their unique life experience and build their brands.

As we’ve seen, many players enter into post-football careers in jobs on radio, TV, podcasting, writing among other media outlets. When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a professional football, basketball and baseball player, then I wanted to host SportsCenter after my career. Which red-blooded American boy didn’t have those kinds of dreams?

Instead, with the Internet, we can have so much more fun creating our own content in our own voice and Athlete Advocates will help players create their own content. There is such a large market of NFL fans out there just begging for more football content for them to consume all year round. The NFL has become the biggest sport in the country because of crazy people like us! We’re always looking for content to learn about the game, learn about the business of the game or just learn about fantasy football.


(As a side note, I do a podcast myself and I would love to have some guests on in the near future, if you know anyone who might be interested in coming on a podcast that discusses the NFL, current events, economics, business, political issues, entrepreneurship, American manufacturing or anything else of that nature, please e-mail me at I have a lot of different passions and I want to make my podcast a sort of Joe Rogan Experience on the east coast with a football flavor to it as well rather than the MMA.)

• Of course, DeFranco’s Gym is a major part of our business plan, so continuing to build our relationship with my friend Joe DeFranco is key to our success. Again, like I said yesterday, Joe D. is the best in the world at what he does and he’s a better person. At Athlete Advocate’s we couldn’t be more blessed to work with a guy like Joe. It’s an honor to be surrounded by so many high quality people, it motivates you to let you know that you can accomplish great things. (

• And of course, writing here at This is an opportunity for me to not only build my own personal brand as a writer and agent, but, more importantly, it’s a chance for me to learn about the most important aspect of being an agent: player contracts. By learning from Jason and the rest of the staff here, if I just keep plugging away reading and learning about contracts, I’ll be able to understand player values, market values, free agency, and all salary cap issues. Your job as an agent is to get your player a fair value for his worth and this opportunity will help me improve my knowledge in this field and, thus, help me with negotiations in the future.

Going back to what I started this article off with, I’ve been developing my process for my goals and at the top of that sheet I have this in big bold letters:

How do I become the best me that I can be? How can I become the best NFL agent of all time? What activities will help me get to where I want to go? What do I have to know?

Below that, at the top of my list, my goal is to be the first NFL agent inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Obviously, guys like Leigh Steinberg, Tom Condon, Jimmy Sexton, Drew Rosenhaus or even Happy Walters (the inspiration for Happy Gilmore and an overall cool guy, check out his story) might beat me there first, but that’s the attitude I want to have going into this business.

When I focus on that one goal of being the best agent of all time, everything else falls into place. If you’re a young aspiring NFL agent, this is exactly how you should think.

When I was going to the Sports Law Symposiums this winter, I met a lot of nice kids, a lot of kids thinking about getting into being an agent and a lot of kids who knew they wanted to be in the business.

What struck me most was that many of these kids were in law school, but they didn’t have a plan for how they were going to be an agent, start their firm or get a job with one of the big firms (a very difficult task and a route I personally did not want to take as I want to create my own thing rather than be a cog in a huge machine). One thing I learned in starting my own small business already is that you have to have a plan. My idea with All American Hustle was simple, but I had no plan other than just start selling t-shirts, that is why I have made my fair share of poor decisions.

Granted, those lessons I learned at a cheap cost, all things considered, will help me greatly in the long run. I started AAH in 2011 when I had very little formal education in business or even just through reading. Over the last year, since I started at Rutgers, I’ve begun just consuming as much information as possible in the fields I’m interested in, things I know I’ll need to understand to be a great agent. This is critical. Understand as much as you can about an industry before you put the money up to dive into it.

A t-shirt business is the simplest form of business ever, so it’s been a great learning tool. I’ve gotten the lessons that I’ll be able to put into my future ventures and I’ve been able to form an LLC, secure a domain and get some other finances out of the way.

Another piece of advice to anyone trying to get into this industry, which is something I heard reiterated by Leigh Steinberg was to make yourself stand out to potential employers. Like I said yesterday, I got my job with Athlete Advocates because I began discussing my business plan with Ryan during last fall and I eventually sent him the completed version of it and let him know I’d love to work with him. I later met Jeff Dobin and was really excited to see that we had another great agent on our team. Ryan was more than open to the idea of me working for them and after a few months of going back and forth with him on some projects, he let me know that he’d love to bring me on as a partner.

Do you understand how many kids must ask agents how to break into the industry? Do you understand how many times they give kids advice that they know probably isn’t being followed up on? Never before have so many people been competing to get into this industry as, like entrepreneurship, being an agent has gotten a lot of great publicity over the last few years as the industry has grown and many kids see it as an avenue to follow their passion for sports in an exciting way. What are you doing to make yourself stand out? Over the last eight months, I’ve gotten involved with three businesses I’m very passionate about in Athlete Advocate’s, American Certified and Over The Cap and not a single one of them asked me for my resume. They saw the work I had put in already. I had written a business plan for the first two businesses and Jason had seen some of my previous writing on my personal blog and we had communicated about some salary cap issues through Twitter and e-mail.

If any of that sounds like too much work, then you’re not passionate enough about the business you think you want to get into. You’ll never work a day in your life if it’s something you would be willing to do for free. That’s what a dream job is, your dream should be to get paid for doing something you love.

Like I said above, develop your process. Dr. Elko states in Touchdown, that “the first step in implementing your vision is developing a process, a step-by-step plan you use consistently everyday to get to the desired outcome.”

Right, so you want to be an NFL agent, how are you going to get there? What do you have to know? Where can you find information that will help you get there? Look at the industry and ask yourself questions about it that you then have to answer.

At some point, I will probably share with you guys the questions I’ve been asking myself over the last few months as a way of making sure I stay on task and learn the things that I need to learn to become a better agent.

So, moving forward this week, I’m going to break down the various services an agent needs to provide for their clients and I’m going to detail how everything I’ve detailed above fits into these categories of services.

As always, #BeAmerican out there my friends.

Zack Moore
Supplements: Onnit


An Introduction to Being an NFL Agent

I want to introduce myself to the Over The Cap reader, so that I can give you an idea of the perspective I hope to bring to this website. I also want to open myself up to topics brought forth by the reader and I’m always open to exploring an idea that you guys bring up in the comment section or through contacting me through Twitter or e-mail.

There’s so much to learn and explore in the game of football and so often, across all fields, we get zoned into our own way of thinking and don’t look at things from a fresh, new perspective. This is why a guy like Mike Leach transformed the game of football with the spread offense after coming from a background as a lawyer.

In marketing, I’ve learned of a concept called “the curse of knowledge,” which is a cognitive bias that leads better-informed parties to find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed parties.

It’s a great concept when you think from an entrepreneurial or business perspective. Sometimes, the big corporations are so caught up in doing what’s always worked for them, that they become blind to new opportunities in their industry. Think about the old cable companies that are missing out on the wave of new technologies that will eventually overtake cable. Companies like Netflix and Hulu have capitalized on the areas that the cable company left open. NFL teams have capitalized by doing things in a way that hadn’t been done before as well. Without people approaching football from a different perspective, we’d still be playing the same game we played in the early days of the NFL.

Point being, you all have something to offer those of us who write for Over The Cap and I’d love to hear from you in the comment section for concepts you’d like to see explored or questions you want answered.

Anyway, to give you an idea of what I want to bring to Over The Cap…

I’m currently an MBA student at Rutgers and upon graduation, I’m going to become a partner at Athlete Advocates with Ryan Scarpa and Jeffrey Dobin, two certified NFL agents. I met Scarpa through his representation my good friend and teammate, Matt Hansen from the University of Rhode Island.

Matt Hansen was an undrafted free agent in 2011 and was signed to the Atlanta Falcons practice squad late in the 2011 season and looked like he was on his way to making the 53-man roster in 2012 after a great performance in OTAs. Unfortunately, he tore his patella tendon during that summer and hasn’t been able to make it back into the NFL since.

One thing that always stuck out in my mind was that, throughout the process, was that Matt was always happy with his agents. Many players get frustrated with their agent when they aren’t getting an opportunity to play, they feel like their agent is letting them down, but through it all, Matt knew his agents were doing their best. The kind of loyalty that Ryan displayed to Matt really stuck out to me and was what drew me to working with Athlete Advocates. Even when it began to look like Matt wouldn’t give them the kind of return on investment they had hoped to have, Ryan was always available and positive in his communication with Matt.


So, last fall, during my first semester at Rutgers, I wrote a business plan in my entrepreneurship class for “All American Hustle Sports,” which would be attached to my retail website that I’ve had hopes of expanding, something we’ll discuss in later blogs.

During the fall semester, I would spend a lot of time discussing the business plan with my former trainer from when I was playing college football and entrepreneurial mentor, Joe DeFranco of DeFranco’s Gym. We would talk business as he trained my friends Matt Hansen and Jason Foster, who were both staying at my house in hopes of returning to the NFL. While Matt hasn’t been able to get back into the league, Jason found his home playing guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

During this time, Joe would tell me how he thinks Ryan is going to be a very successful agent and, seeing how much I already knew about Ryan, I decided to try and join forces with Athlete Advocates rather than start my own firm. So once I finished my business plan, I sent it over to Ryan.

He was impressed by my business plan and realized that I could be an asset to Athlete Advocates. Ever since then, we’ve all been discussing strategies and the future of our business together. Currently, we’re representing Darren Woodard of the St. Louis Rams and Lew Toler of the Pittsburgh Steelers, we also handle some of the marketing deals that Kyle Arrington of the New England Patriots has. We’re a young firm, but I’m confident that we are building a team that will be able to compete with the big boys.

I became intrigued with the prospect of being an NFL agent because my quarterback from Ramapo High School, Andrew Weiss’s father, Art Weiss, was Wayne Cherbet’s agent. Art has been one of the best in the business at finding D1AA talent and getting them an opportunity in the NFL. He’s currently representing Chris Hogan of “7-Eleven” Hard Knock’s fame who also went to Ramapo.

I decided that I wanted to be an NFL agent when I was playing at URI. I saw my good friends Victor Adesanya and Matt Hansen finish playing at URI and try to take their game to the next level after my junior season.


Going into that season, I had just earned a scholarship, which had stoked my aspirations of maybe playing in Canada once I graduated, but an ankle injury had rendered me basically useless during my junior year as I couldn’t cut on the ligaments and tendons that I had torn during spring ball, but had gone undiagnosed and untreated due to our shoddy training staff at URI. I got a surgery after the season, so I was rehabbing while I was watching my friends try to go to the NFL and it made me realize that I could get involved in a career path that would still keep me involved in football.

And that’s led me to where I am now.

(I want to make a quick comment on the training staff at URI. I had three undiagnosed injuries during my time at URI. I tore ligaments in my ankle, to which their medical advice was to ice and stretch it. After I herniated two disks in a spring game, something I wouldn’t find out until an MRI years later because their only advice was to stretch my neck…seriously, that’s all they told me to do on a neck injury. Then, I had a broken bone in the ball of my foot for the entirety of my college football career, which instead of getting an MRI or x-ray on, we just put padding in my cleat. I say this because this is a major issue across the country, we have college training staffs that do not take care of players to the best of their ability because they are either uninspired and/or incompetent or they do not have the funding to do their jobs correctly. As an agent, this is an issue that I will focus on and campaign for. There are hundreds of kids being untreated with far more debilitating issues than mine and the NCAA owes it to these kids to make sure they’re taken care of. I’m in favor of some kind of medical fund that allows former athletes to treat college injuries, but that’s an issue for another day.)

I tell you all this because I find a lot of other young people trying to break into this industry and I hope to impart some of the things I’ve learned so far and continue to share more knowledge as we go along.

Personally, I decided to get an MBA because I saw an opportunity in the industry as most agents have law degrees and player representation is changing, in football specifically. This was confirmed to me at the three Sports Law Symposiums I went to this spring as guys like Darren Heitner from the Sports Agent Blog noted that the future of representation is going to be in marketing, endorsements and business deals.

This is largely because of the rookie wage scale put forth in the 2011 CBA, which makes agents less valuable because of the lack of negotiations. Where an agent now needs to prove his worth is in providing players with good training facilities to prepare for the NFL combine and everything that goes along with that, endorsement deals, business experience and entrepreneurial expertise, knowledge of the NFL marketplace and player value, marketing opportunities and brand management. The player needs an agent for his negotiating skills in later contracts as well.

When I decided upon getting my MBA, I also knew that my good friend, Will Gattoni (an avid Over The Cap reader), would be getting his law degree from St. John’s and we’ve always spoken about working together, something we still hope to do, but my attitude was, I’ll become the best business minded agent I can be and find partners with law degrees. Thankfully, that’s worked out well.

Over the last year, I’ve been putting together the things I need to be the best agent in the NFL. I don’t say that out of arrogance, I say that because this is simply too fun to half ass and you’ll get eaten alive if you’re not trying to be the best. This industry is in the stage of consolidation, everyone is merging into a few big firms like CAA, Rosenhaus Sports, and Relativity Sports, so if you want to compete, you have to find your niche, build your network and work your ass off.

So, to give other young agents out there an idea of how to get into this business and everything it entails, I am going to go into detail this week on how I’ve approached it and what we’re going to do over at Athlete Advocates.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more information coming this week. As always, feel free to tweet me if you have any questions or comments.

Zack Moore
Supplements: Onnit