Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Connecting the Dots

Today, Jack Bechta of NFP wrote an article on why rookies don't have deals done in time for training camp that included the following observation:

There is also a growing concern and frustration among general managers about one large agency that’s working at its own pace and disregarding camp opening dates. Four GMs and three team negotiators I’ve spoken to over the past seven days have told me that this firm is dictating its own timetable for getting deals done based on the order of draft picks they represent and the location of those picks in the first round. I’m being told that there’s no sense of urgency from this firm and that it won’t start talking seriously until camps open. My problem is that this strategy is not openly disclosed to players when they sign with the firm. The deals will ultimately get done, as they always do, but players may miss a week or more that they don’t have to.

Irrespective of the very real agency problem Bechta writes about (which is important), there's a very specific accusation there: that one firm (which Bechta doesn't identify by name) is playing a hold-up game with the entire NFL. Of course, on reading this, I wondered just who that firm was.

And thus I turned to PFT's handy-dandy Signing Status of First Round Picks page and this SBD article, which have the agent information for each of those 32 gentlemen and the agency affiliations (PFT's info is the up to date one). Now, Bechta tells us the firm is doing deals "based on the order of draft picks and the location of those picks in the first round." So, what agents are representing multiple first round picks:

CAA (Tom Condon, Ben Dogra, etc): #1 Matt Stafford (signed pre-draft), #2 Jason Smith, #7 Darius Heyward-Bey, #12 Knowshon Moreno, #13 Brian Orakpo, #14 Malcolm Jenkins, #15 Brian Cushing, #17 Josh Freeman, #19 Jeremy Maclin

Athletes First (David Dunn, etc): #5 Matt Sanchez (signed), #9 B.J. Raji, #26 Clay Matthews, #27 Donald Brown, #28 Eric Wood (signed 7/28)

Todd France: #16 Larry English, #25 Vontae Davis, #30 Kenny Britt

Octagon: #4 Aaron Curry, #20 Brandon Pettigrew, #32 Ziggy Hood

Eugene Parker: #3 Tyson Jackson, #10 Michael Crabtree

BEST (Joel Segal): #11 Aaron Maybin, #22 Percy Harvin

Looking at this list, there's only one real candidate that fits Bechta's criteria, and that's CAA. Plenty of picks, forcing teams to go in order is quite possible, and enough range and volume to drive the market. Athlete's First doesn't have the middle-weight strength to be a player, and Todd France and Octagon don't have the depth. Plus, the top heavy nature of CAA means they can wait for the later first round picks to sign and then set their own market. So far, the only top 20 picks to sign are the two quarterbacks, so those are some very pleasant deals to do year-to-year comps off of. So, if your team's first round pick doesn't make it to camp on time, blame CAA.

UPDATE (7/28/09 2315 CT): Per PFT, #28 Eric Wood still hasn't signed. This doesn't affect my point, though, that CAA is very likely the agency Bechta's talking about.
UPDATE #2 (7/29/09 2358 CT): Matt Bowen of NFP in today's late column identifies CAA as the agency causing the problems.


bud selig said...

Nice sleuthing. Anything that annoys the NFL or NFL teams regarding controlling players, especially draft prospects, is a good thing so I commend CAA for their obstructionist agenda

Vik said...

Interesting observation. Obviously the players aren't dimwitted enough to sit around waiting for their agent to take care of everything, so I wonder what kind of dialogue was and is going back and forth between player and agent, especially players in the lower round who are being held up as a result of unsigned first-rounders. Perhaps we won't see quite so many CAA clients in the future.