Seattle Seahawks Player Seeks To Represent Himself

Russell Okung, All-Pro left tackle, made news by announcing that he had fired his agent and would be negotiating his next contract without agent representation. Okung is set to become a free agent next offseason and figures to have a long list of suitors including his current team, the Seattle Seahawks. Okung says, “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.” In place of an agent, Okung will hire a sports attorney to review the new deal and will pay a one-time flat fee not dependent on his salary. The decision by Okung to negotiate his next contract without agent representation potentially saves him millions of dollars. The maximum commission to have an agent negotiate his contract would be 3%. If Okung had retained his agent at the 2.5% he was paid for his first contract when he was drafted and Okung signed a multi-year deal for the average salary of a top 5 tackle, then his agent could be receiving north of $1 million. Okung represents the new wave of athlete who is a businessman and a brand on top of being an athlete. Okung says, “You see, there’s a new sort of athlete, and he’s not just an athlete. He’s a businessman and a living brand, a la Magic Johnson or LeBron James. He’s a player who represents himself because he not only understands the market and his own personal value, but has the self-assurance and financial know-how to do so, too.” Okung understands his decision to represent himself isn’t for everyone, but is leading the charge for players to “free their agents.” Okung does not believe that 2.5% is worth what agents provide. New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings is also pushing for players to negotiate their own contracts. At Heitner Legal, we excel at negotiating and drafting contracts and understand the dynamics involved in contracts such as professional sports contracts, endorsement agreements, licensing agreements, and entertainment contracts. We can guide anyone through the process of negotiating a contract and reviewing it to ensure our clients not only earn their value but are protected from potential liabilities as well. Resources: Darin Gantt, Russell Okung wants to test free agency without an agent, Pro Football Talk (Jul. 20, 2015, 2:08pm), http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/20/russell-okung-wants-to-test-free-agency-without-an-agent/ Ari Gilberg, A former NFL 1st-round pick explains why he fired his agent and will represent himself as a free agent, Business Insider (Jul. 21, 2015, 9:19am), http://www.businessinsider.com/russell-okung-will-represent-himself-as-a-free-agent-2015-7

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