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Super agent Leigh Steinberg joins Nestor after his client Patrick Mahomes’ second Super Bowl title to continue the debate about the value of a sports agent to a player like Lamar Jackson in this free agency and franchise tagging period.

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

contract, lamar jackson, quarterback, represent, player, owners, guarantees, agent, negotiated, patrick, money, years, baltimore, football, franchise, colluded, outlier, leigh steinberg, maryland, market

SPEAKERS

Leigh Steinberg, Nestor Aparicio

Nestor Aparicio  00:01

Welcome back wn S T, Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive we are positively taking the Maryland crabcake tour back out on the road. I’ve got tour dates all around baseball April 5, we started things in Costas and Dundalk. Then on the seventh as we open our new arena here in Baltimore. With Bruce Springsteen and the eagles on back to back nights. We’ll be doing it down at Fadela since the family shirt ready for baseball season. I’ll have some Maryland scratch offs in the Maryland lottery. The 50th anniversary is to give away at both of these events, as well as our friends at wind donation. 866 90. Nation you buy two you get two free for throughout the month of March in the two years 0% financing? Well, I’ve reached all the agents that I know this guy and I’ve been trying to play tag the last couple of weeks. He represents a few people around the league. It’s busy time of the year, as Lamar Jackson has been given the non exclusive franchise that I think about six months ago when I had Leigh Steinberg when I would have had to ask him, What is the non excuse? We were trying to learn all of this. We’re trying to catch up with you, Leigh Steinberg, on everybody’s an agent in Baltimore right now. How have you been? And I’m sure celebrating another beautiful little experience with your quarterback Patrick mahomes.

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Leigh Steinberg  01:12

Oh, yes, that Super Bowl is about as good as it gets in the pantheon of thrills for someone representing athletes. You can’t do much better than that.

Nestor Aparicio  01:28

Why don’t you want to tell him and I remember when you built, rebuilt the agency and you said one day we’re going to represent these types of players. In regard to Patrick and I, I had you on in Miami. You and I were together a radio row three years ago, right before the pandemic, I think we spoke about a little bit about Kobe Bryant that week, because if that was the week it was, and you were, you know, a Boolean about the front end of what it could mean for him and for all of this. And as we sit here with the Lamar Jackson contract and what it means for all of these quarterbacks and what shares they sat in. Obviously, Patrick mahomes has been just a beautiful gift to you as well at this point in your career.

Leigh Steinberg  02:07

Well, he’s a beautiful gift to the world. Because he’s such a centered and thoughtful person, and they’ll go that way. But look, the key in football today is the franchise quarterback. It’s become a quarterback centrically. So here’s the key. Can you find the player who you can build around for 10 to 12 years? Can you find a quarterback who can win? Because rather than just with and can you find someone who in critical circumstances in adversity? A game was getting out of hand, quarterbacks throwing a couple interceptions a crowd booing, what does he do then? Can he compartmentalize adopt a quiet mind and elevate his level of play to take a team to and through victory? There are very few quarterbacks like that. I mean, you’d have to say, Aaron Rodgers obviously Tom Brady was Patrick mahomes. Show burrow, Justin Herbert. And then there’s Lamar Jackson. And he clearly is a franchise quarterback. So normally, in these situations, these contracts are not a public subject. You just see all of a sudden that the quarterback has signed a new extension or a new long term contract. What’s confusing here is you obviously have a team that loves this player. And you have a player that loves the team. And so this is a happy marriage, but I think that somewhere probably was the Deshaun Watson contract that came in and, and created controversy as to what the market is and what sphere because clearly, this is a franchise quarterback and clearly, it’s a different team without him.

Nestor Aparicio  04:11

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Well, I’ve heard all the talking points and as have you and I remember Steve Ashanti, this time last year when I was getting thrown out of the owners meetings talking about outlier. I would think that’s a word that an agent like you does not want to hear. And certainly you wouldn’t want to hear if you are renegotiating Patrick mahomes contract and maybe at one point you will be to say that the Deshaun Watson is an outlier. What What would you say? How would you answer an owner to says to you, that’s an outlier. We’re gonna go with the other contracts instead, once this contract was was issued, and throughout sports, every agent in your position in the history of sports, uses the next benchmark. I think you did it with Mark kowski many years ago.

Leigh Steinberg  04:51

All right. So the reality is that Shawn Watson’s contract is part of the market because Was it was a similarly situated player. And you’re going to have Joe burrow up, you’re going to have Justin Herbert and the television contract in football box and CBS in the midst of a freighter and economy during the pandemic, their rights fees, what they pay for, went up by 83%, or almost double. So More money’s coming, this is the biggest jump in the cap. And so if anything, someone’s going to exceed Deshaun, Watson’s contract. And you may see this next generation of quarterbacks do better because there’s more money in the game, there’s more money under the cap. And that position is critical. So it’s not an outlier. It’s a it’s it’s part of the market. Whether you the real issue is guarantees because more and more contracts in the NFL are becoming guaranteed for skill and injury. That’s probably where the rub came. It probably one of the dollars. And so know if you’re Lamar Jackson, you say this is all part of the market, what makes it an outlet? What’s different about the Cleveland Browns and signing up? Quarterback long term?

Nestor Aparicio  06:31

Well, the media may say their level of desperation, created their negotiation. But in your case, I’m sure you were looking or thinking about or broach the the 35 years ago, whether it was Warren Moon or Troy Aikman or Steve Young, talking about guaranteed money, even then, it has been taboo for all the owners. I mean, Kirk Cousins, maybe and certainly there are guarantees built into all of these deals, including what you negotiated for Patrick mahomes. But the notion of guarantees have always been there on the baseball side. You’ve always been on the football side. When did that really get sideways? And why was that never bargained for and fought for? On the football side of things. This all happened we were out of the league here in the 80s and 90s. Well, free

Leigh Steinberg  07:14

agency doesn’t really have the same effect in football, but it does in baseball. Because most talented players never get to free agency they are preemptively signed by their teams. The contracts have rarely been guaranteed in football, but that’s changing. Now you go throughout the first round. And those first round contracts are mostly guaranteed for skilling injury, sometimes three years instead of four on that first contract, but just seeing more guarantees everywhere. What used to make the difference in contracts was signing bonus, so that the other sports didn’t have a signing bonus. So when you have someone enter the NFL and their first top first rounder and they get $23 million in a check. Yes, they didn’t have all the guarantees but but signing bonus made up for it.

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Nestor Aparicio  08:17

We Steinberg is here agent extraordinaire. He is out in California and preparing for yet another draft we’ve had to combine now in pro days and all of that as we get up on the draft and of course the Ravens embroiled in whatever this public thing is with Lamar Jackson. So I know you’ll begin by saying you don’t represent Lamar, we had John a couple of months ago, and he gave us a little bit of a cautionary tale. I think the headline of Baltimore positive was something like even Jerry Maguire would represent himself. In your case in watching Lamar now represent himself and Ro Quan Smith representing himself other players have gotten themselves a Laremy Tunsil representing himself for you what is your cautionary tale your global cautionary tale, that if Leigh Steinberg Jr. Were the number one draft pick or were in Lamar Jackson’s situation why you wouldn’t want your son, your loved one your student athlete, your friend to be unrepresented? I think the fans here are getting a little bit of an education about losing money for endorsement deals and also positioning with through all these owners. But from your perspective globally, what does a player miss what would Patrick mahomes Missed by not having you or anyone like you around?

Leigh Steinberg  09:29

He probably could represent himself pretty well.

Nestor Aparicio  09:33

Don’t tell the chiefs that.

Leigh Steinberg  09:37

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But let’s start with the fact that it’s really difficult to be someone negotiating with the team when the subject is you and the subject is you. And it’s really hard to to keep the right emotional distance pinch from the business aspect of it, because what the players feeling is, I’m not being valued, I’m not being valued sufficiently and all the rest of it, you have a buffer in an agent. First of all, second of all, you’ve got someone who’s structurally, who would come up with creative ways to put a contract together. If not this, then let’s try this or this or this, which is hard to do if you’re not in the business of contracts. Now, let’s be clear with Lamar Jackson, any player as the absolute right to represent themselves, I don’t have a divine right to represent players. But they have a need that they reach out for. So representation also is about helping someone become a role model. It’s about setting up charity, it’s about mentoring them, through the process is about preparing for second career, there’s so many different aspects to this, but it’s difficult to, to represent yourself, I don’t represent myself, for example, when I’m doing a book deal, I have a literary agent to it. When we negotiated for me to do a documentary, I didn’t negotiate the deal, because it’s too close, it’s too personal. It’s, you need some emotional distance and judgment. And you also have another person in your life that you can talk with, who’s going to show you every aspect of the market, but in this case, how the market grows, because every contract for a franchise, quarterback is always going to end up being the biggest. And then the next one we’ll build on the next one, we’ll build on the next one, we’ll build on it. So this is not just about now it’s seeing the future and envisioning where this contract will stack up. Remember, you can do an extension for a veteran every year. So if it ever becomes unfair, you can always just extend the contract, pay a new bonus, extend another year or two and keep making it so it is market ready. The counterbalance is how to keep the supporting cast together. That will enable a player to get to the Super Bowl. And so if the cap numbers too extraordinary and enormous for the quarterback, then there’s a problem. But that can be done through structuring and figuring out all salary counts against the cap. But amortized bonus counts against the gap. So it can be structured in a way that allows you to both have the best competitive edge, which is important for the quarterback and maximize the dollars.

Nestor Aparicio  13:01

Lee, is it possible that the owners could collude in this day and age? Is it I mean, that’s a strong charge for anyone to make. But is it even possible that the because certainly nobody was colluding last year with Jamie has let me giving money guaranteed money to Deshaun Watson, and you’ve seen the salaries go up through 40 years of you doing this work? You’ve already mentioned that the actual pie has grown. And it’s very obvious in the units and negotiated for all of that. But is it possible that the owners could artificially suppress this in some way for the market?

Leigh Steinberg  13:34

I think that that the issue of guarantees is so basic that it’s they don’t have the glue to knuckles that it ties their hands and restricts them in some way. So I don’t think they need to they share the same interest back in the day back like when the USFL was born and the rest of it. And then it crashed. Agents colluded like crazy. But it was a totally different system and owners colluded like crazy, but it was a totally different system then. And now. I doubt that they would even have to do that. That’s just their inherent interest. It’s like when people talk about conspiracies among wealthy people in the world, right? And they’re always just like, they control or they don’t

Nestor Aparicio  14:28

we all get together late. The media all gets together and decide, right? I mean, by media, like we have a meeting at night, right?

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Leigh Steinberg  14:35

So the point is, you don’t have to convince wealthy people that they don’t like taxes and they don’t like regulation, right? You don’t have to have a conspiracy. They just have the same interest.

Nestor Aparicio  14:47

We Steinberg is here we have the same interest in sports in the National Football League and have since I bought my Steve BARTKOWSKI jersey at Sears back in 1978 79. I’m listening for you on the representing yourself side of this I I think we all saw the inherent issues and even your talking points about not representing yourself that all of us would say that but in, in practice this last couple of weeks about how a player would get Arthur Blank, or an owner on the phone, or Jim or say, or Steve Ashati on the phone, and literally do the work that you and not just, I mean, you’re rich and famous, and you’re the guy on Friday and your team of people, it’s not just one, I mean, you you have a an army of professionals across all sorts of level of finance, law, money, helpful that like all of the things that agents do for players, the the notion that just the simplicity of the contract negotiation. From the fans perspective, it’s mind numbing, to think that, for me, at least, having done this for 27 years, thinking that he doesn’t have somebody like you doing this work and trying to get him the $200 million contract he wants.

Leigh Steinberg  15:56

Well, one of the problems here is that once something becomes public, it makes dealmaking much more difficult. Once a player or an owner feel pushed up against the wall in some way, it doesn’t necessarily make them more willing to make the deal may make them more resistant. So trying to keep things below the surface and not played out in the newspapers. There’s only one person that can pay Lamar Jackson that’s cheap, a shoddy right. And once I realized that, that, that if I was criticizing an owner publicly, it didn’t necessarily it wasn’t like the fans were gonna march the stadium you know with with torches and pitchforks and demand that the Blair get the money, it all seems incredibly unreal to an average working person. So you’ve got to try to keep these discussions behind the scenes where no one’s pushed up against a wall. No one’s made to feel criticized. Just keep it private.

Nestor Aparicio  17:18

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Well, Lee, I appreciate you coming on and representing some players in a few weeks. Are you so hard at work in bringing these younger,

17:27

younger agents doing all?

Nestor Aparicio  17:29

Well, let’s just leave the rest of it to us here the older guys. Hey, I appreciate for 30 years you’ve been so kind to meet all these radio rows. I’m sorry, I missed you in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, but I’m really glad you made a little bit of time and I think the drama here from I’ve been doing this 31 years. I’ve never had an offseason like this when when your quarterback is in flux with a franchise or when you don’t have one we’ve had a few of those. But when this happens it’s it’s greatly upsetting to a franchise and its fan base. This has been a very combustible offseason for heroes more at least.

Leigh Steinberg  18:02

So they’ve used the tag now you just have to privately see if there’s a better structure and a better way to go. It’s not over because they used see franchise tag they can they can take it off and negotiate a new contract many times.

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Nestor Aparicio  18:19

Okay, well, maybe cooler heads will prevail and the money will come flowing and number eight will be back out on the purple field. Lee, thank you very, very much appreciate all the work and all the good deeds over the years and Mr. Party. We hope to be there next year here. It’s gonna be bigger and better than Vegas. Right.

18:34

Well,

Nestor Aparicio  18:35

there you go. Lee Steinberg agent extraordinaire, joining us from his office at Marina del Rey. You can find me anywhere good crab cakes are served. We’re gonna be bringing the Maryland crab cake door back out on the road. We’re going to be a Costas on the fifth of April. I say August, mid April, April 5, get ready for baseball season. The day before opening day. We’ll be down in Dundalk celebrating 50 years in the Maryland lottery. John Mark is going to join us we got some great guests lined up. Then on the seventh we’re going to be at fatally somewhere in the family shirt that elects in the market the old market. That is the day after opening day. That is the day that the new CFG Bank Arena will be opening with Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen will be amongst us among us maybe getting those law firm to come have a crab cake give me a favor, please your nose right? I am Nestor. We are wn st am 1570, Towson Baltimore. And we never stop talking Baltimore positive

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