Contract Negotiation NFL Players

Brian Murphy Supplies Details Surrounding Harrison Smith Negotiation

Athletes First agent Brian Murphy represents players whom make up 20% of the cap value on the Minnesota Vikings’ current roster. That is an extremely impressive feat for an NFLPA certified Contract Advisor.

Murphy’s latest deal with the Vikings is largely responsible for a lot of the Vikings’ cap commitment. He negotiated the contract extension for Harrison Smith, which will guarantee the safety $28.578 against injury. The total potential value of the deal is $51.25 million over five years.

It is rare for agents to speak on the record unless they are touting one of their players or boasting about their accomplishments. Interestingly, Murphy used the signing as an opportunity to provide some insight on negotiation strategy. He stated the following to Ben Goessling of ESPN:

“When you first do a negotiation with a new person, you’re very careful in everything you say. You don’t give up an inch until you know you can get an inch back. It’d be like in marriage, you don’t say you’re going to take out the trash on Thursdays unless you know they’ll load the dishwasher on Fridays. As you negotiate more and more deals, my whole philosophy is, there’s no room for bluffing. There’s certainly no room for lying. … I think that (Vikings VP of football operations) Rob [Brzezinski] is very, very good in that, in terms of saying what he means. And we say what we mean. But it takes a couple negotiations to realize, ‘Hey, when he said this, he really does mean this.”

Murphy also provided specific details surrounding his negotiations for Smith.

“With Harry’s deal, they’re not starting with a super-low offer, and we’re not starting with an incredibly high offer. We trust each other. We both know what we’re doing. He wasn’t going to pay Harry $14 million (a year), and we weren’t going to take $8 million (annually). When I say $10 (million), I really mean $10 (million).”

“We analyzed 50 different cash scenarios, and then we compared those cash scenarios to the offers from the Vikings. It’s very disappointing to all the fantasy football fans out there, or even my brother, who’s a big football fan. He’s like, ‘So, did you tell them Harrison had more interceptions in his third year (than all but two safeties in the league)? I’m like, ‘No — we don’t actually do that.’ It’s like boring insurance work. We’re basically trying to figure out the way to maximize the probability Harrison puts the most cash in his pocket as early as possible.”

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.