Q & A With The Sports Agent Part 2

Part 2 of Patriots Insider's exclusive Q & A with sports agency CEO Darren Heitner of Dynasty Athlete Representation. Topics: Contract length, bonus money and gag orders on players.

Part 2 of our Q & A with sports agent Darren Heitner, CEO of Dynasty Athlete Representation. In case you missed the first part, you can read it here: Q & A With The Sports Agent Part 1


6. Is addressing a player's marketing contracts one way the top agencies are attracting some of the top free agents?

Darren Heitner: I believe that is a very strong conclusion in the majority of cases.

7. NFL players sign contracts for different term lengths. What’s is/are the standard contact terms?

DH: That is a great question, and depends based on the status of the player, the team involved, etc. For example, I recently discussed Day 2 Rookie contracts on SportsAgentBlog.com. Shonn Greene, a 3rd round pick by the New York Jets in the 2009 NFL Draft, signed a 4-year deal. It is not surprising since the Jets, along with 25 other NFL franchises, only offer 4-year sheets to Day 2 drafted players.

8. Some teams stay away from signing players in their thirties, while others see those same players as potential saviors. Are there special clauses that teams can insert into the contract to make it more appealing to sign a veteran?

DH: Signing a veteran in his thirties can be extremely beneficial to a club. You bring in someone who is good for the clubhouse. He can help develop young talent and give advice to players in situations where he might have experience. Additionally, if it is a hometown favorite, it can juice up the ticket sales. Teams will place escalator clauses in an older veteran’s contract as a protection against that player getting injured and wasting cap space. Let’s say Favre comes back and plays for the Vikings this year. It would be smart for the Vikings to base his salary on the number of snaps taken under center as one of many factors under consideration.

9. You hear a lot about signing bonuses for players, but roster bonuses seem to be more gaining in popularity. What are some of the differences and why do teams use one vs. the other.

DH: A team cannot recoup roster bonuses if its player violates a provision of his contract. Signing bonuses can be recovered in a violation, though. Roster bonuses are considered earned income, while signing bonuses are just money you earn for writing your name in cursive on the signature line. So far it sounds like signing bonuses would be preferred by teams, right?

Here is the kicker: a roster bonus is conditional. By conditional, I mean “If…then…” A player who receives a signing bonus, get’s the signing bonus (exception = violation of the contract). A player who gets a roster bonus, though, only gets that bonus if he is still on the team’s active roster at a specific date specified in the contract. A roster bonus also does not immediately go against a team’s salary cap.

10. There’s plenty of speculation that teams put in so-called gag orders in their contracts to prevent players from disparaging the organization. Are there such things as “no talking to the press” clauses? Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Eric Mangini, Scott Pioli and others seem to have put a moratorium on players talking to the media without permission. Is it a contract issue, a team rules issue or something else?

DH: An agent would be silly to agree to put a clause in a Uniform Player Contract that prohibits his client from talking to the media. Such a clause is entirely too subjective, and no agent should allow for a team to mandate that it be placed into a contract. If a team wishes to institute a rule against players talking about a particular subject out in the open, that is one thing. Putting it in a contract and leaving it up to an arbitrator to subjectively decide if the clause is violated is going too far.

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