Every so often, I log in to Neil Stratton’s Inside The League website to check in on the latest news and rumors in the football business. Today, I decided to do just that and I was surprised by a new “phenomenon” that Stratton says is “concerning” with regard to signing NFL prospects.
Stratton says that he has heard some agents are now resorting to removing what is referred to as a “training rider” from the signing process.
First, some background. A training rider comes in different shapes and sizes but is commonly attached as an addendum to the Standard Representation Agreement (SRA) that is executed between a player and a Contract Advisor. If the agent is going to be covering the pre-Draft training expenses of the player, which commonly includes things such as the actual Combine/Pro Day training, housing, meals, and perhaps a stipend, then the agent is going to want an assurance that the money being laid out is reimbursable if the player decides to make a change of representation.
Now, the reimbursement of these expenses is oftentimes not on the table if the agent ends up negotiating an NFL team contract for a player and that player pays the SRA fees agreed upon by the parties. But if the player leaves that agent before the agent ever had the opportunity to negotiate an NFL contract, then the agent is going to want contractual protection to be made whole. These training riders historically have included such protection.
Apparently, some agents have become so desperate to sign players that they are willing to do away with the reimbursement clause.
I agree with the anonymous agents who were quoted by Stratton, who allegedly said, “I would never sign a player without one, under any circumstance,” “That’s just stupid,” and “That is non-negotiable for us.”
I can’t imagine operating in an industry where you are supposed to show off you are a savvy negotiator while doing away with the protection of reimbursement in case your client leaves you. But this is the same industry in a race to the bottom on SRA fees (which are capped at 3%, but many agents will take less to compete for top talent) and which has made marketing advances in the 6-figure range commonplace.