A former NFL first round pick explains why he fired his agent and will represent himself as a free agent

In a shocking decision, Seattle Seahawks starting left tackle Russell Okung has announced he has fired his agent and will represent himself when he tests free agency next year and he hopes other players will follow.

In a piece published by Okung on The Players’ Tribune, the former first rounder says that most players choose to be represented by an agent when it comes to contract negotiations, because they haven’t ever thought of an alternative. The 2012 Pro Bowler believes he’s “more than adequate” to handle himself without an agent, and by “betting on himself” it will pay off for him in the long run:

“I know my worth. I can look at the market and go directly to a team without an agent and tell that team my worth. And I can do so with confidence because I’ve done my research, I’ve educated myself and I’ve questioned the answers I’ve been given.

And when it comes to reviewing the details of my next deal, I’ll hire an expert — a lawyer or a sports attorney who understands the dynamic of football contracts — to read the paperwork. I’ll negotiate a one-time flat fee that isn’t dependent on the size of my salary.”

While Okung is addressing his own specific situation, he later took to Twitter to clarify that his article wasn’t just about him, and other players should follow suit and “take the reigns” of their NFL lives:

The standard rate NFL agents receive of a player’s contract is typically close to the maximum allowed, 3 per cent. While that may seem like nothing, for a player who will most likely sign a long-term lucrative contract after this season — assuming he remains healthy — it could be the equivalent to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Prior to the NFL draft, Okung chose Authentic Athletix’s Peter Schaffer to represent him as his agent and the two agreed to a fee of 2.5 per cent, according to Okung. The Seattle Seahawks then signed Okung, the No. 6 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, to a six-year $US48.5 million contract — 2.5 per cent of $US48.5 million is $US121,250. 

Okung believes that 2.5 per cent isn’t worth the amount of work Schaffer, and other agents, do. He believes today’s average athlete has the necessary skills to act as his own agent and find a fair deal himself, without an agent to guide him:

“You see, there’s a new sort of athlete, and he’s not just an athlete. He’s a businessman and a living brand, a la Magic Johnson or LeBron James. He’s a player who represents himself because he not only understands the market and his own personal value, but has the self-assurance and financial know-how to do so, too.”

With free agency just a year away, Okung’s situation has already made for an interesting story line.

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