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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Sports Agencies Grow Ranks In NFL Arena

  • The Familie's new hires Jack Scharf and Jeffrey Griffin have negotiated $800M in NFL contracts.
  • Steve Astephen, CEO of The Familie, provides insight on consolidation among sports agencies.
Lamar Jackson gets new deal without help of an agent.
Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson signed a record-breaking deal this week without the aid of an agent.

Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports, on the other hand, expanded its NFL representation earlier in the week by acquiring another firm to strengthen its operations.

Sports and entertainment talent agency The Familie noticed each transaction and has hired two veteran NFL agents, Jack Scharf and Jeffrey “Griff” Griffin, who have negotiated $800 million in player contracts across their combined 50 years of experience. The Familie’s six-agent staff will compete with an increasingly consolidated market in the sports agent industry.

Klutch Sports acquired ELITE Talent Management, whose 40 NFL clients include Odell Beckham Jr and Christian Kirk. The move is part of a continued trend of consolidation among sports agencies. WME acquired BDA Sports Management in March, and last year, CAA bought ICM Partners for $750 million, while Wasserman purchased The Montage Group.  

“I think the problem with too many of these consolidations right now is if it’s a larger firm, you’re mixing cultures, and that’s when the competition in-house is not healthy. I’ve seen it too many times,” said The Familie founder Steve Astephen, a managing partner at Wasserman from 2002-2019. “I think the problem is you get too big. You can’t do it for 2,000 clients — not if you really want to do it right.”

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts ($255M, $179M guaranteed) and Jackson ($260M, $185M guaranteed) both signed record-setting NFL contracts this offseason. The Familie’s President of Sports, Erik Schmella, expects NFL salaries to continue to grow but wants to get to an “NBA model” of fully-guaranteed deals.

“Absolutely, if the league-wide revenue is increasing year over year, then obviously the salary cap is going to increase,” Schmella told Front Office Sports. “And there’s a concerted effort to increase fully guaranteed money in these contracts. We’re trying to get to that NBA model where the agents and players have to fight hard to get the terms of the contract fully guaranteed.”

Jackson served as his own agent while signing his record-setting five-year, $260M contract with the Ravens, abstaining himself from the 3% fee typically given to agents on player salaries.

“Where Lamar’s missing out is—I think a LeBron James, Lamar [Jackson], Patrick Mahomes—their on-field [contracts] might just be very easy to do for anybody registered or not,” Astephen said. “The reason I would say why we’re still a service provider is because how are you maximizing your marketing opportunities? I’d be sitting there going, great [Lamar], you did that deal; I wanna do everything else because, to me, he is one of the most marketable athletes in the space.”

Scharf negotiated defensive lineman Malik Jackson’s six-year, $90 million contract with the Jaguars in 2016, the largest deal given to a defensive player in Jaguars’ history. Other Familie clients include X Games star Travis Pastrana and artists Avril Lavigne and Machine Gun Kelly. 

Scharf and Griffin have repped 60 players drafted into the NFL, including this year’s third-round picks DeMarvion Overshown (Dallas Cowboys) and Brodric Martin (Detroit Lions). The Familie’s inaugural NFL talent roster includes Eagles cornerback Kelee Ringo, Lions linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, Jets safety Will Parks, and defensive end Lawrence Guy, who inked a four-year, $11.5M deal with the Patriots in 2021. 

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