It might officially be the NFL offseason, but my work is just beginning. Of course, I’m on the job here at the NFLPA as the extern (and next week I’ll be at NBC Sports Washington and ESPN 980), but there’s also another looming issue on my plate: free agency.
After playing last season with the L.A. Chargers and Chicago Bears, I’ll be back on the market next month. In some ways, it’s exciting to be able to be recruited and pick where you want to play. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say the uncertainty doesn’t creep into mind, either. Yesterday, during my second day at the NFLPA, the topic of free agency came up a few times and it helped give me some good knowledge and motivation going into it.
I met with George Atallah, who is the head of the communications department, and he was explaining how the numbers recently came out for how much rollover money teams will have from last season going into this offseason for free agency. It’s amazing how much money some of these teams have, like the Browns (almost $59 million) and even the Cowboys, who spent only 69 percent toward the salary cap last year. So there’s a lot of money to be had out there; it’s just a matter of how much the teams are willing to give and what’s the right fit.
Our talk impacted me a lot. It got me thinking about how to work with my agent to maximize the cash flow and guaranteed money in my contract, especially since I’m about to turn 30 and likely over the halfway point of my career. Is money going to be a factor in where I go? Of course. Is it the most important thing, though? No. The way I see it, money is right up there behind winning and longevity. The more you win and the longer you play, the more money you are going to make. So that’s my approach to the offseason and finding the right situation for me because I want to be successful and I want to bring the right attitude to a team’s locker room to help them be successful.
Earlier in the day, I got to meet with The Trust. This department helps players transition to the next stage of their life so they can be successful — which goes hand in hand with what the NFLPA Externship program is about, so that was great. I learned a lot about some of the disconnect that’s there with active players and the Trust because most guys don’t want to talk about things like pension and benefits until after their career is over. They don’t want to discuss their career coming to an end, which I can kind of understand.
I think a good way to look at it is like a boxing match. So instead of “life after football,” think of it as “round two.” In boxing, once you finish round one, you’re looking forward round two. Some players might see it as, “I’ve done enough in my first career (football) that I don’t need to think about the second part.” But seeing it as round two, it motivates you to keep going back out there and giving it all you’ve got.
Today, I’ll be sitting down with the big boss at the NFLPA: DeMaurice Smith. Really looking forward to talking with him, so make sure you check out today’s blog to see how it goes!
This piece is part of a collaboration between the NFLPA and Front Office Sports in order to give players the opportunity to showcase what they are doing in the business world. If you’d like to learn more, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org