Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is negotiating without an agent. Other NFL players have had success — but at a cost.

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PHOENIX — Lamar Jackson isn’t alone.

For all the noise surrounding the uncertainty of Jackson’s future with the Ravens, the 26-year-old superstar quarterback is not the only NFL player to represent himself in contract negotiations. At the start of last season, there were 17 players who were representing themselves and had negotiated the contract under which they played this past year, according to the NFL Players Association.


Some of them were notable.

Linebacker Bobby Wagner last April negotiated a five-year, $50 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams with incentives that could have stretched the deal to $65 million (though he recently parted ways with the Rams in a messy split and returned to the Seattle Seahawks on a one-year deal worth $7 million, according to multiple reports).


Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins negotiated “90%” of his own two-year extension that added up to $54.5 million.

And Laremy Tunsil, one of the best left tackles in the league, a week ago negotiated a three-year deal with the Houston Texans for $75 million, with $50 million of that fully guaranteed, according to multiple reports. It also marked the second time that Tunsil landed a big-money deal without using a full-time agent.

Other players to have done deals without an agent include former All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, former offensive tackle Russell Okung and Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James.

There are reasons for doing so, notably financial.

Houston Texans offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil has twice negotiated his own big-money contracts.

With agents generally getting between 1.5 % to 3.5% of a player’s deal, that can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year or more. There are other reasons, too.

“I felt like I knew contracts well enough,” Sherman said after he’d negotiated his deal with the San Francisco 49ers in 2018.

But that three-year contract, which was worth up to $39 million, was also laden with incentives, with Sherman coming off a torn Achilles at the time. He bet on himself and won, though, earning more than $30 million across three seasons in San Francisco.

The contract did include some assistance from the NFLPA, however, which helped Sherman collect on a $2 million roster bonus that otherwise would’ve been forfeited, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.


While the NFLPA doesn’t make recommendations in terms of which team a player should play for or what deal they should sign, they are there for guidance.

“The union is here to provide as much data and support as possible to our player membership,” an NFLPA representative told The Baltimore Sun when asked about what assistance the Players Association provides for players who negotiate without an agent. “Whether or not — and to what extent — a player utilizes this available support and resources is up to them.”

Whether Jackson utilizes any of those resources is unknown but among them, the NFLPA said, is data that includes comparative reports and analysis, information about the collective bargaining agreement rules and more so a player can make “an informed decision.”

That’s also, of course, where the role of an agent can be useful — what they provide is myriad.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson hasn't spoken to the media since Dec. 2.

“[Using an agent] takes player emotion out of it,” one agent of another Ravens player, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the manner, told The Baltimore Sun. “Players also have an inflated sense of their personal market and they’re not in communication with 31 other teams. … [The player] doesn’t have the experience in that situation and doesn’t have the time.”

The agent also said that negotiating contracts is “only about 20%” of his job, with the rest of his time spent on everything from day-to-day tasks to pointing them in the right direction for financial advice.


There’s a reason Hopkins, for example, ultimately changed his mind and hired an agent.

“Obviously, last year, I didn’t have an agent,” Hopkins said recently on “The Pat MacAfee Show.” “The year before, I didn’t have an agent, when I went a contract in Arizona. And to answer your question, I went out and hired my lawyer, who’s an agent, who’s going to help me not get the short end of the stick.

“I think me hiring an agent to handle this process right now will get the results that we want.”

That process will now likely include a trade, with Hopkins having reportedly ask to be traded earlier this offseason in order to get the long-term, big-money contract he desires.

“It makes no sense that 31 teams are saying we don’t wanna touch this guy,” former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III, right, pictured warming up alongside Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, in August 2018, said last week on ESPN. “There’s something bigger going on here.”

As for Jackson, whom the Ravens issued a $32.4 million nonexclusive franchise tag that allows him to seek an offer from another team, he continues to navigate the often complex process on his own.

Jackson’s mother, Felicia Jones, serves only as his manager. Ken Francis, who like Jones is not licensed by the NFLPA, and, along with Jackson, denied he had been contacting teams on the quarterback’s behalf after the NFL issued a memo last week warning teams not to negotiate with him, is a business partner of Jackson’s.


Meanwhile, Baltimore has said repeatedly it wants Jackson to be its quarterback long term, yet there has been no update on its negotiations with the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player.

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No other team has inked Jackson to an offer sheet, either.

“It makes no sense that 31 teams are saying we don’t wanna touch this guy,” former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III said last week on ESPN. “There’s something bigger going on here.”

Perhaps more light will be shed on the situation at the NFL’s annual meeting this week.

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta, coach John Harbaugh and team president Sashi Brown will be in attendance and will undoubtedly be asked about where things stand with Jackson, but it’s unlikely they’ll provide much beyond a boiler-plate response. Jackson, for his part, isn’t saying much, either. He hasn’t spoken to the media since Dec. 2 and recently said only that Francis isn’t negotiating for him.

At least one ex-player and teammate thinks Jackson doesn’t need Francis or anyone else doing so, either.


“Laremy Tunsil represents himself and has negotiated his way to being the highest paid left tackle twice,” Griffin III wrote on Facebook recently. “Players can take control of their negotiations and reset the market without an agent.”

In Jackson’s case, time will tell.