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Is Matt Elam Going To Become A Trendsetter For Future NFL Rookies? – SPORTS AGENT BLOG
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Is Matt Elam Going To Become A Trendsetter For Future NFL Rookies?

Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam (26) carries the ball during mini camp at Under Armour Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
There is talk of future rookies representing themselves after Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam successfully negotiated his first NFL dral. Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

My FORBES article on Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam being the only top prospect to enter the 2013 NFL Draft without an agent seems to have been a hot read, with over 23,000 views.  Not only did it turn out that Elam was the only drafted player to not have an NFLPA certified Contract Advisor at the time that he was drafted, he also did what many thought was unthinkable — he negotiated his contract with the Ravens without the assistance of a Contract Advisor as well.

What many viewed to be a bold move by Elam may become a more general trend in the future.  Sure, Matt Elam is a rarity.  He has a brother who has played many years in the NFL and was able to provide the financial support that many NFL hopefuls find from established agents.  But more and more, the role of agents with regards to the negotiation of rookie contracts and the value of their offered pre-Draft services are being questioned.  This is especially true in a system where rookie deals are largely slotted.

Pat Kirwan of says that you should not be surprised if 6-8 first round athletes are self-represented in the 2014 NFL Draft.  While I do believe that Elam’s experience may influence others to follow his business model in the future, I do not think that so many athletes will follow in Elam’s footsteps at such a rapid pace.  However, do not be shocked if more than 1 drafted player in 2014 decides to enter the NFL Draft without a certified Contract Advisor, and instead uses the assistance of an attorney or other qualified individual “behind the scenes.”

That said, an NFL player’s first contract is very different than his second deal (if he stays in the league to earn such a contract).  Thus, while the “Elam Plan” may become a growing trend among rookies, do not expect the same to be the case for players once they begin to think about the millions they can earn through the life of their second contracts.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.