Basic NFL Business 101

By Justin VanFulpen

This might not be any new information but here is some of the basic’s when it comes to the NFL business.

Roster size:  90 man roster in the off-season and start of training camp.  Rosters will get cut down to 53 man roster and of that only 46 players dress for each week.  If a player doesn’t dress he will still get paid the same if he did dress for the game.

Benefits of being on 53 man roster:  After you play 2 regular season games you will be automatic enrolled in the 401K in which the NFL has a match.  There is an NFL pension, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits.  Also each player on the 53 man roster does receive 2 game tickets per home game.

2018 Rookie Base Salary:  $480,000 per year or $28,235 per week.

Performance Based Pool:  If a player plays one down in a regular season game he is eligible. This is a lump sum of money paid out after the season based on each player playtime percentage.

Playoffs:  Will get additional weekly checks if team is in the playoffs.

Practice Squad: The maximum players allowed on a NFL teams practice squad is 10.  A practice squad player can sign with any teams 53 man roster at any time and if signs with another team then its own the player is guaranteed 3 regular season game checks (Assuming there is 3 regular season games left).

2018 Practice Squad Pay: $7,600 a week or $129,200 a year.

Training Camp/Pre-Season Games: Weekly pay in 2017 is $1,075 for rookies.

Taxes: Will need to pay state income taxes in each state that a player plays in, so at the end of the season possible 9 state tax returns will need to be filled.  Each state has a different state income tax rate and some states like Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Washington have no state income tax.

Tuesday During the NFL Season:  Most teams Tuesday is the players off day, but also it is the day teams will bring in “street free-agents” to work out because of injuries the past week or to get a look at for the teams emergency list for future injuries.

Future Contracts:  When people talk about future contract it an NFL team signing a player after the season so that the player can participate in OTA’s, Mini-Camps and then go to training camp with the team.

Agents:  Agents can charge a maximum of 3%, on base salary as well as signing bonus, work out bonus, and roster bonus.  But only get paid after the player gets paid.  Also does not get a commission on practice squad weekly pay.

Should College Football Coaches have agents?

Justin VanFulpen with client Davenport Head Coach Sparky McEwen

By Justin VanFulpen

There is a saying that “coaches are hired to be fired” or move on to another opportunity.  Everyone knows that college football at any level is a business and the primary role of any coaches’ agent is to help his or her client get a job or get a better job.  A successful agent may significantly enhance his or her clients’ bargaining power if he or she is truly knowledgeable about the level and type of compensation available to candidates in the market.

Most if not all of the top college coaches have agents, and some are represented by the same agent or agency.  Some people think that there is a conflict of interest with agents that might represent multiple coaches or both players and coaches.  But the job on an agent is to do what is in the best interest for his or her client.  As an agent, you’re only trying to facilitate something for your client, and that’s your job.

In the football coaching business you can’t insure success in terms of wins on the field, if things go wrong there can be factors that are beyond a coach’s control.  But what a coach can control is have or not having someone working for them behind the scenes.

As a college coach with a job there is much more than just coaching the X’s and O’s so to have someone advising you on the land scape of the football business, if it is about a new job opportunity, a contract, an off the field opportunity and much more, it can be invaluable.

Some coaches might reason, only head coaches need an agent or why do I need an agent, I can put these deals together on my own.  The really question should be why wouldn’t you have someone representing you.  It is another pair of eyes looking at a deal, someone to bounce an idea or thought off of that has experience in the football business.  True a coach could just use an attorney to look at a contract but they normally don’t have a lot of experience with everything else that goes on in the football business world.

Just like in any business there are better agents then others but the fact is being in the college football industry having an agent to represent you to athletic directors or other coaches behind the scenes so it doesn’t take your focus away from the task at hand can be invaluable.

What College Football All-Star Game Directors look for when inviting NFL Draft prospects to All-Star Games

Justin VanFulpen at the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game in Allen, Texas

By Justin VanFulpen

First and for most College Football All-Star games are a business, they need sponsors to help take care of the expenses to bring in the NFL Draft prospects.  These sponsors want their brands to be associated with the NFL without having to pay the top dollars to be an official sponsor of the NFL or a competitor of their already has that category locked up with the NFL.  So to get true NFL prospects is a must to be able to help keep sponsors coming back year after year.  That is a major selling point to sponsors is how many draft pick you had or how many players you have in the NFL that played in your game.

When the spring grades come out from BLETSO and National not only are the agents and financial advisors try to get their hands on them but so are the people that run the all-star games.  All-star game directors of player personal want to see if the players NFL spring grade matches up to what they think of the NFL prospect.

When I was in that position in charge of personal we built our boards like we were an NFL team.  We wanted to make sure we could get the best prospect in our game as possible.  Any game not named the Senior Bowl knows it has to more work on elevation because since the Senior Bowl is far and away the number one College Football All-Star game.  If a player is going to play in an all-star game and get an invite from the Senior Bowl he is accepting that invite.

Here are things that Player Personal Directors look for when inviting prospect to College Football All-Star Games:

1. Is he a true NFL prospect: Does he have the ability to play on Sundays and is not just a good college football player?  What are scouts saying about him, will they want to see more of him in a college football all-star game setting?  What grade do you have on the prospect ? As a director can you defend the selection to NFL scouts if they ask.

2. Does he have NFL measurables: If there is a tie between two or more prospect for a game roster spot, directors will go for the bigger, longer player.

3. Where the player from: Since the game is a business it doesn’t hurt to have a few local or regional prospects to help with media coverage and ticket sales.

4. What agents are recruiting the prospect: What kind of relationship does the agent have with the games personal director? Is the agent truly trying to help the prospect or just help him if he signing the prospect? Is the agent using one all-star game invite to help the prospect get a “better” invite?

5. Is the college coach calling for the prospect: Will his college head coach or position coach pick up the phone or send you an email recommending him to the game? We would always have his happen and it did factor into our decision making process.

At the end of the day the College Football All-Star game process is a big part in which a prospect can raise his draft stock so as a director of player personal you want to make sure you get the best possible prospects into your game.

Basic NFL Business 101

By Justin VanFulpen

This might not be any new information but here is some of the basic’s when it comes to the NFL business.

Roster size:  90 man roster in the off-season and start of training camp.  Rosters will get cut down to 53 man roster and of that only 46 players dress for each week.  If a player doesn’t dress he will still get paid the same if he did dress for the game.

Benefits of being on 53 man roster:  After you play 2 regular season games you will be automatic enrolled in the 401K in which the NFL has a match.  There is an NFL pension, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits.  Also each player on the 53 man roster does receive 2 game tickets per home game.

2017 Rookie Base Salary:  $465,000 per year or $27,352 per week.

Performance Based Pool:  If a player plays one down in a regular season game he is eligible. This is a lump sum of money paid out after the season based on each player playtime percentage.

Playoffs:  Will get additional weekly checks if team is in the playoffs.

Practice Squad: The maximum players allowed on a NFL teams practice squad is 10.  A practice squad player can sign with any teams 53 man roster at any time and if signs with another team then its own the player is guaranteed 2 regular season game checks.

2017 Practice Squad Pay: $7,200 a week or $122,400 a year.  

Training Camp/Pre-Season Games: Weekly pay in 2017 is $1,075 for rookies.

Taxes: Will need to pay state income taxes in each state that a player plays in, so at the end of the season possible 9 state tax returns will need to be filled.  Each state has a different state income tax rate and some states like Texas or Florida have no state income tax.

Tuesday During the NFL Season:  Most teams Tuesday is the players off day, but also it is the day teams will bring in “street free-agents” to work out because of injuries the past week or to get a look at for the teams emergency list for future injuries.

Future Contracts:  When people talk about future contract it an NFL team signing a player after the season so that the player can participate in OTA’s, Mini-Camps and then go to training camp with the team.

Agents:  Agents can charge a maximum of 3%, on base salary as well as signing bonus, work out bonus, and roster bonus.  But only get paid after the player gets paid.  Also does not get a commission on practice squad weekly pay.

NFL Draft: “All-Star Games” and why they matter

By Justin VanFulpen

One of the biggest things in the pre-draft process is the different all-star games.  I have had the opportunity to be involved with 6 College Football all-star games.  Five Texas vs. the Nation games and as well as the Player All-Star Classic in 2012, mainly working with the player personnel but also having other duties.

This past February at the NFL Combine, former NFL GM Ray Farmer said about All-Star Games.

“I put more stock in that then combine stuff, the reason I do that, it’s ball… All-Star Games matter because it is good on good.”  

College football all-star games are about giving players an opportunity to show their skills in front of NFL scouts. In this environment where player come from all levels of competition the NFL scouts are evaluating not only the one-on-one and team practices but how fast can a player pick the offense or defense that is being installed since everything is done within that game week.

Small school prospects that get into one of the major all-star games have a great ability to help themselves in the draft process because it shows scouts that the level of competition is not too high for them since that will be one of the biggest questions mark for that prospect to answer.

We saw this past year at the Senior Bowl QB Carson Wentz from North Dakota State who end up as the number two pick overall by the Philadelphia Eagles raise his draft stock from his week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

The question always comes up from coaches, players, parents, agents, etc. – How does a player get invited to play in a game?   I had an opportunity to be in charge of the personnel and like all the other people in the all-star game business we are looking for the best player that will have an opportunity to get drafted.  Since the life blood of an all-star game is sponsorship and most sponsors are looking to get close to NFL players or be able to say that they are involved with NFL prospects without having to spend the top dollars to be an official NFL sponsor.

But what I always tell people asking that question that communication is key with the personnel directors of the game or their staff.  Sometimes players will miss out on an opportunity to play in an all-star game because they don’t get back with an all-star game to let them know they are interested in playing in the game because they are waiting to get an invite to a “bigger” game.

Since the Senior Bowl is by the far the number one all-star game they have the lead when it comes to what prospects go where.  If a player gets invited to the Senior Bowl most of the time they are pulling out of whatever all-star game they are in and going to that game.  Since that is the case and invites are kept close to the vest it causes all the other all-star games to continuously change their roster.

All-Star games start sending out invites in mid to late October and each game does it different as far as inviting players.  Some email the player directly other will send the invite to the school and have the coaches give it to the players.

My advice to players is accept the invite when you get it and get it back to the game if then you get invited to a “bigger” game,  just communicate with the game you had already accepted and just let them know in a timely manner so they can invite someone else.

2016 NFL Draft: NFL Scouting Combine Results

By Justin VanFulpen

In the football business one of the closely guarded secrets before the official list is released is who is getting invited to the NFL Combine.  The NFL Combine is run by National Scouting and has become a televised event by the NFL Network.  For more information about how the NFL Combine invites work you can check out my article from a year ago: NFL Draft: NFL Combine just part of the process.

Now that the 2016 NFL Draft is in the books we can look at the results.  This year there were 332 players invited to the NFL Combine and their where 37 players that were drafted that did NOT go to the NFL Combine.  Break down as far as rounds go:

3rd round – 1 player
4th round – 2 players
5th round – 5 players
6th round – 17 players
7th round – 12 players

So 116 players that were invited to this year’s NFL Combine were not drafted.  So the percentage of players that were drafted that were invited to the NFL Combine was 65%, so it is far from a guarantee if you are invited that you will get selected in the NFL Draft.  Last year it was 66.7% of the players that were at the NFL Combine where drafted.

Former NFL GM Ray Farmer talks about the NFL Draft and the process

Highlights from Former NFL GM and Scout Ray Farmer talking about the NFL Draft and the process at Inside the League Event at 2016 NFL Combine. Ray Farmer was a 4th round draft pick, worked for the Atlanta Falcons as a scout, Kansas City Chiefs as Director of Pro Personnel, and the Cleveland Browns as General Manager.

NFL Draft: “Junior Days & Spring grades”

Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams has his height measured before a work out for NFL scouts during a pro-day workout at Baylor University Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Waco. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
By Justin VanFulpen

Right now we are getting close to the 2016 NFL draft but NFL scouts around the country are already hard at work on the 2017 NFL draft on college campus in what is called “Junior Days”. What are “Junior Days”? Well there are two scouting organizations that NFL teams subscribe to called BLESTO and National (National Football Scouting) each of these organizations is made up of scouts from different teams, and all except the New England Patriots “subscribe” to one of these services.

Normally the college coach who is the pro liaison sets up the junior day in which the draft-eligible players for the next year take part in a workout much like a Pro Day just for these scouts. These junior days are normally scheduled during spring practice.

Scouts do measurable, the player’s height, weight, hand size and reach, some school will allow their players to run the 40 but others won’t. The scouts will also have the players take the Wonderlic test which is a standardized test which is used to assess the aptitude of prospective employees for learning and problem-solving. The scouts also view film for the player’s junior year as well as background information and injury history. From there, only a single report is filed and shared with the other teams as part of the group, and then there is a meeting where the reports are shared with the member clubs sometime in late May.

Once those reports are filled that is when people in the football business try to get their hands on those reports or just the grades. Even though all information from National Football Scouting and BLESTO are proprietary, agents, financial advisors, trainers, all-star game organizers, media members, and NFL draft gurus all try to get their hands on what is referred to as the “spring grades.” Once anyone gets their hands on these grades they will start contacting the players letting them know what their “spring grade” is.

These grades are not set in stone and they sure change thru out the season but they are for sure a great starting point. The grade that either of these services gives a player the May before he plays senior season doesn’t have a huge effect on where the player is drafted a full year later but does have a good bearing if the player will get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine which is run by National and has input by BLESTO on who gets invited.

Springs grades are important starting point for people in football business and the prospects. But there is always prospects who come off the radar like DE Ezekiel Ansah, Detroit Lions (Drafted 5th overall in 2013, no spring grade) and this year CB Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH) should be a middle round draft pick who also didn’t have a spring grade going into this season.

Fast Guys run Fast

40s 2016 NFL Draft1

Some schools allow their players to run in the spring for NFL Scouts.  In this years NFL combine there were 21 players that ran for NFL Scouts in the spring and also ran at the NFL Combine.  Only 10 of them improved their times and 11 actually got slower.  All 21 players trained at a combine prep facility, but at the end of the day, fast guys run fast.

Plus as scouts and GMs will tell you by the time that they get to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine their NFL Draft Board is set.  Most teams have around 180 players on their draft board so the NFL Combine is about confirmation and cross checking. At the end of the day “it is about ball” as one GM told me.