Lamar Jackson chooses to represent himself

Baker Mayfield considered representing himself. He decided not to. Lamar Jackson did.

Jackson told Josina Anderson of ESPN that he will represent himself, with his mother serving not as an agent but as a manager.

The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner explained that he doesn’t believe an agent is necessary, due to the current wage scale for rookie contracts. As noted when Mayfield was contemplating going without an agent, that’s indeed the best argument for the self-representation approach. However, as also noted when Mayfield was contemplating going without an agent, that approach is a potential mistake.

First, despite the relative simplicity of the rookie wage scale, players selected in the first round need to be able to navigate certain nuances and hot spots in the draft order relevant to offset language, guaranteed pay, cash flow, and other structural devices.

Second, a good agent will get the rookie the best possible pre-draft training, ensuring that the player is ready for the various aspects of the pre-draft workouts that follow, and a good agent will cover those expenses.

Third, a good agent will advise the player on whether and to what extent to engage in Scouting Combine activities, and whether and to what extent to engage in pre-draft team visits and private workouts. A good agent will prepare the player regarding what to say and how to say it when meeting with teams. A good agent will serve as the buffer between the player and teams that may not be happy to hear that, for example, the player won’t be visiting the facility or throwing privately for its coaching staff.

Fourth, a good agent will study rosters and depth charts and coaching staffs and schemes, identifying the best destination for the player’s short-term and long-term interests and embark on a plan to get him there.

Fifth, a good agent will sell his client relentlessly, working scouts, coaches, owners, and media to make the players as desirable as possible. As part of this effort, a good agent will push back against harmful media narratives, like Bill Polian’s goofy notion that Jackson should play receiver.

Sixth, a good agent will try to thread the needle, getting the player in the best spot to thrive. As UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen put it, it’s better to go lower to a better team than higher to a bad one. More specifically, it’s better to go to the team that suits best overall short-term and long-term fit, regardless of draft position.

Having no agent continues to be better than having a bad agent. Every high-profile rookie, however, benefits from having a good agent, ultimately getting much more in return for the relatively small percentage that goes to the person who knows how to handle the various aspects of the player’s NFL experience that easily can become unwanted sources of stress, uncertainty, and frustration.

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