This past weekend I spent some time down at Tulane to work with them as a presenter and judge for their 3rd annual Pro Football Negotiation Competition and wanted to share more about it. If you are a current law student thinking about a career in sports or will be a law student that may want to pursue a career I highly recommend seeing how to participate in the competition next year. It is a great opportunity not just for the mock negotiations but to network with other students and interact with judges from around the NFL.
This year’s competition continued the exceptional growth rate with 28 teams competing across two days. There was even an international presence to this year’s competition with the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Costa Rica sending teams to Tulane showing the great reach of the NFL. The event kicked off with a presentation on the NFL salary cap and contracts given by myself which was followed by a meet and greet for participants in the competition.
The actual competition started Friday morning where teams competed against each another in a group tournament format. Each team was given a player contract to negotiate and specified a role, either as an agent or a team executive, for each round. Each side would have various objectives to reach in the negotiation, such as guaranteed salary, APY, or a certain dollar amount of roster bonuses. Teams would have 45 minutes to negotiate the contract in front of a panel of judges. The player pool this year consisted of Jason Pierre-Paul, Kawaan Short, DeAndre Hopkins, Malcolm Butler, and Kirk Cousins. Following each round teams were graded by judges bases on their negotiating style, ability to achieve various objectives, and given advice to use in future rounds.
After Friday’s action teams had the opportunity to meet other teams as well as the judges in an informal social setting at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium where the eight best teams were announced. Those teams would advance to Saturday’s three round, single round elimination playoff. The players used in the final rounds were Martellus Bennett, Chandler Jones, and Derek Carr.
The list of judges was very impressive. NFL representatives included Jackie Davidson (Jets), Khai Harley (Saints), Bryce Johnston (Eagles), Trip MacCracken (Chiefs), Justin Matthews (Saints), Nick Sabella (Bears), AJ Stevens (Buccaneers), and Kyle Wallace (Dolphins).
Agents included David Butz (Sportsstars), Martin Fischman (Fishman & Wiltz), Richard Katz (KMG), Ari Nissim (Roc Nation), Marl Slough (Ballengee Group), and Harrison Smith (Paradigm). Also attending were myself, JI Halsell (Nflcontractmetrics.com), and James Waldhauser (Cousineau McGuire who works with the Vikings).
The quality of the teams continued to improve this year with many teams really making strong cases for their clients. In many cases, especially in the playoffs, selecting a winner proved to be quite difficult. The finals came down to Villanova University against the University of Denver in an open match that all participants were invited to watch. The finals panel of myself, Ari, Nick, and Bryce had the difficult task of selecting a winner and after a long discussion selected Villanova as the winners of the competition.
Much like last year I really enjoyed the competition and it is always flattering to see how many people are somewhat inspired by OTC to compete in such a competition. Having the chance to meet so many young men and women and talk with them about all kinds of topics ranging from the salary cap to the beer of the week to science fiction movies to horses was well worth it and I hope those students were able to use their time to learn something from the other judges as well
I also want to thank the Tulane Sports Law Society for having me as a judge and specifically to Tate and Greg who were front and center in planning this year’s competition. I also want to thank fellow suffering Jets fan Gabe Feldman, who runs the law program, for helping his students coordinate this unique event. Tulane’s students from the Sports Law Society have always been supportive of OTC and I hope to be a part of their event next year as well.
As mentioned earlier, I highly encourage any law student who may want to work in the NFL to strongly consider competing next year. It really is an opportunity like no other to compete and network with your peers. Feel free to email me about any particular questions or thoughts on the competition and Tulane’s email is also included for official information and sign ups for next year.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.