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 2 regular season game checks.

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.

When Should a College Football Coach Hire an Agent?

By Justin VanFulpen

Then simple answer is whenever he wants to or feels he needs to.  A coach can negotiate his own contract and he can do all the other things an agent helps with.  College Football coaches are busy and we all have 24 hours in a day so the question comes does having an agent free up some time?  Does the agent bring other value to the coach?  In terms of other service the agent provides or even just being a confidential sounding board.

If I would hire someone to cut my lawn, it is not the fact that I can’t do it, it is the fact I would rather do something else with my time. This is the same principle here, a coach can know the market place in terms of salaries, contracts, opening, and more but it might be helpful to have someone else there to do some of the work as well.

Also with College Football became even more of a big business on all levels it could be good to have someone to be your voice or even play the “bad cop” role with administration or whoever is in charge of the contracts.  But also there is much more that coaches use their agent for then just getting a deal done and a contract negotiated.

The question I have gotten in the past is “what is the downside” and the answer is there really isn’t one, you as the coach empower the agent to negotiate or inquire about a job or other service so a reputable agent really could only increase your value, add more time back to you or enhance what you are already doing.  Another thing I have heard is “I don’t want an agent to ruin the reputation that I have built so far in my career” and to that I say at the end of the day you are the boss the agent works for you so you guys should have communicated on how you as the coach want things done and it if it doesn’t work out that is when you terminate the relationship.

Only Film can raise your NFL Draft stock – Not your 40 time

By Justin VanFulpen

Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books, many people are looking forward to the 2018 including the draft prospects for next year draft.  But if there is one thing that stood out in the 2017 NFL Draft is film is king and for the most part nothing else really matters.  People get excited for the NFL Combine to come and see how fast the NFL prospects run but one of the biggest shocks to many was the WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan went #5 overall to the Tennessee Titans.  Davis got hurt training and never did any of the testing, never ran a 40 and still was the #5 overall draft pick and was the first WR selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.  He sent in a video to all 32 teams of him running routes showing that he was almost back health from his ankle injury before the NFL Draft.

LB Haason Reddick, Temple came into the season with a spring grade from NFL scouts with a grade that he couldn’t play in the NFL (In the past it was called a reject grade), not even a low free-agent grade.  Basically saying he isn’t even someone to watch as a draft prospect.  But what did Reddick do this season he showed on film that the scout spring grade was wrong, he had a huge season, he was second on the team in tackles, first of the team in tackles for loss and sacks.  With that great season got him an invite to the Senior Bowl which he had a great week in front of scouts many who at the being of the process back in the spring said he couldn’t play in the NFL.  He was invited the NFL Combine and checked off the box on the numbers that a NFL linebacker should in the time and testing part.   Reddick went on to be the #13 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.

But as many GMs will tell you their team’s board is set before the even get to the NFL Combine.  As Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn said after this year NFL draft after drafting Teez Tabor out of Florida who didn’t run well as the NFL Combine or his Pro Day.  (Link here)

Both Corey Davis and Haason Reddick where first round picks who didn’t play in a Power 5 conference and both show that it is about the film, and that it not about your grade going into the season or what you run of even if you run a 40.   Film is key and at the end of the day that is your resume to NFL teams.

2017 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 2017 NFL Draft is in the books we can look at the results.  This year there were 329 players invited to the NFL Combine and their where 28 players that were drafted that did NOT go to the NFL Combine.  Break down as far as rounds go:

2nd round – 1 player
3rd round – 1 player
4th round – 2 players
5th round – 3 players
6th round – 6 players
7th round – 15 players

So 104 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 68%, so it is far from a guarantee if you are invited that you will get selected in the NFL Draft.  Last year it was 65% of the players that were at the NFL Combine where drafted.

Why playing speed is more import then timed speed

Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn talking about draft CB Teez Tabor, Florida  after a slow 40 time at the NFL Combine and Pro Day and that it is all about film and their NFL Draft Board is set before the NFL Combine ever happens

Money break down of the NFL Draft

By Justin VanFulpen

Tomorrow is the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft here is a look back at last year’s draft (2016) in terms of the average guaranteed dollars by round.

1st Round = $13,518,446

2nd Round = $3,024,333

3rd Round = $755,602

4th Round = $524,372

5th Round = $231,976

6th Round = $124,830

7th Round = $72,496

So you can see there is a big drop off from the first round to the second round in terms of guaranteed dollars. Below you will see a breakdown of all last year’s first round picks in terms of total contract (all 1st round pick total contract is guaranteed) and the signing bonus.

So you see there is a huge drop off in terms of your total contact from being the 1st pick of the draft to even being the 16th pick in the 1st round. Between Jared Goff to Taylor Decker there is a difference of almost $17 million dollars.

Because of amount of money that is on the line that why teams do as much work on not only the playing ability but the personal and back ground of a prospect.  We see this year two prospect have had off the field issues weeks leading up to the draft that could cost them a lot of money in CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State (one time projected as high as top 15 overall ) and DT Caleb Brantley, Florida (one time projected in the 1st round).   We will see what end happens with these two prospects when it is all said and done. So as an NFL prospect you need to remember it is not just about how good of a player you are or can be on the field.

What can help/hurt NFL draft stock that has nothing to do with playing

By Justin VanFulpen

True in the NFL it is all about can you play the game at a high level and it is about the film and as they always say “the eye in the sky can’t tell a lie” but there are other factors that make up a player draft stock that has nothing to do with your skill as a player. There are a lot of things that are out of players control but there are many that it comes down to choices.

Effort/Hustle – Going 100% on every play doesn’t have anything to do skill.  Having a high motor and giving hustle and effort on every play is only a positive and is something that a player can control.  

Football IQ – Film study, knowledge of your opponent, what are his tendencies, knowledge of your scheme and the purpose of each play, knowledge of the rules, all of these things it doesn’t matter how athletically gifted you are as a player.     

Failed Drug Test – As a player you might not thing that this is a big deal but it is something that can hurt you with NFL teams and is something that as player you have control over.

Domestic Violence/ Violence against Women – There are many documented cases that has affected guys draft status including this year with Joe Mixon.  Even with this happing a few years ago many teams have taken him off their draft board.

Association – When NFL teams are doing their due diligence investigating player’s back-grounds they are interested in who the player hangs with off the field and do any of these people present red flags.  They are wondering if by associating with these people will the player be affected to making some bad decisions?

Social Media – Monitoring and reviewing player’s social media has become a big time in the recent years.  Scouts are looking to see what the prospect is posting on these platforms.  They are looking for is the player posting about football? Some of the red flags they are looking for is the prospect posting about Guns, Violence, Drugs, Alcohol, etc.?

Medical – This is one that a prospect doesn’t have much control over, in football injuries happen, and they do have an effect on prospect draft grade.   What a prospect does have is when the injury does happen how hard to they attack the rehab, also what are you doing as far as injury prevention?

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.

Marketing Money for NFL Players

By Justin VanFulpen

When it comes to off the field marketing dollars for NFL prospects or players there isn’t a lot of money or opportunities compared with the amount of players or prospects.  In terms of marketing the dollars and opportunities go to the skill players (Quarterbacks, Running Backs and Wide Receivers) and some top level defensive players.

NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing arm of the NFLPA has done a nice job getting group licensing deals done that involve all current active NFL players.  They work with companies like EA Sports the does the popular Madden Football Video game and many other companies.

There are some more standard marketing deals that get done:

  1. Shoe and Apparel – Nike, Under Armour (Both companies licensed by Players Inc.)
  2. Trading Cards – Panini, Topps (Both companies licensed by Players Inc.)

But then there can also be some more creative deals to make dollars like getting paid to “Tweet” working with a company called Opendorse that is licensed by Players Inc. and the value of your “tweet” depends on how many Twitter followers you have.

Our a player can make additional money by having their own online t-shirt store with another licensed Players Inc. company 500 Level.

But be careful not to be fooled about how much money NFL players make off the field, it might not be as much as you think.  According to Opendorse Top 100 Highest-Paid Athlete Endorsers of 2016, which used Forbes World’s Highest Paid Athletes as their resource – here are the top 15 paid NFL players in terms of endorsement earnings.

  1. QB Peyton Manning – $15,000,000
  2. QB Drew Brees – $12,000,000
  3. QB Cam Newton – $12,000,000
  4. QB Russell Wilson – $10,000,000
  5. QB Tom Brady – $8,000,000
  6. QB Eli Manning – $8,000,000
  7. WR Demaryius Thomas – $1,200,000
  8. WR Julio Jones – $1,200,000
  9. LB Luke Kuechly – $1,000,000
  10. WR Dez Bryant – $500,000
  11. WR AJ Green – $500,000
  12. QB Joe Flacco – $500,000
  13. QB Philip Rivers – $500,000
  14. QB Sam Bradford – $300,000
  15. TE Zach Ertz – $200,000

So just know that just because a player is in the NFL doesn’t mean that he is making a ton of money off the field in endorsements.  Yes there are ways to be creative and find different avenues for off the field dollars but the main part of a players income will come from his contract with his team.