The following was written by our new contributor, Alex Fernandez.
Russell Okung hates Jerry McGuire.
“This movie insinuates that athletes need someone else to “show them the money” because they can’t get out there and get the money themselves. I hate that.”
Okung has received plenty of courting attempts by agencies promising him the money and fame long before he was selected 6th overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2010 NFL draft. As a highly touted prospect at Oklahoma State University, Okung was promised the huge contract, commercials, and fancy suits. After hiring his first agent, he learned immediately that he had a very valuable benefit as a premier talent:
He smartly negotiated with his agent to pay a contract negotiation fee of 2.5% as opposed to the standard 3%. Okung realizing his power, then began to question factors like how an agent can be an expert in so many of the fields that they advertise such as law, marketing, negotiating, business, etc. Also, how can an agent can fulfill all of their rich promises when they are managing upwards of 20 clients?
So before becoming a free agent next offseason, the pro bowl Left Tackle has decided to part ways with his agent and represent himself.
“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.”
Russell Okung is betting on himself. Set to hit free agency in the 2016 NFL offseason, the contract he negotiates himself will be an interesting one to examine. He is making $4.8 million in his final contract year at the age of 27, which ranks 11th for offensive tackles. Okung appears to be primed to score big on a new deal. He is regarded by many as an elite player with plenty of mileage left, and the salary cap is skyrocketing. But without significant negotiating experience, he could be forfeiting significant bargaining power. That’s a bet he’s willing to take.