After the player’s agent receives notice that the athlete is due for a new contract, the agent and athlete make an independent evaluation of the player’s value. Deciding this value between the agent and player prevents any misunderstanding and hard feelings among the athlete, the agent, and the sports franchise when a final deal is made.
The first thing an agent wants to do is act in the best interests of the client. Make sure your client gets paid what he is worth. This is done by comparing the athlete’s performance to those of other athletes playing the same or similar position in the same professional sport. You also look to see if the athlete has had a bad injury or if he is injury prone. If the athlete has an injury problem, the agent’s bargaining power for the athlete decreases. You look at the seniority of the player in the particular league he is in. If the athlete has been in the league for a long time and has put up consistent statistics each year in the league, then that player is going to have more bargaining power for an increase in salary and a long-term contract compared to an athlete who has put up good statistics for a relatively shorter period in that league.
Sometimes a long-term contract may not be in the athlete’s best interest because the athlete may not like the franchise, the city the team plays in, or he has only one more year to become a free agent, meaning he can negotiate a contract with any team. If an athlete does not want to be tied down by a long-term deal, he will opt to pursue the free-agent market the following year. It is here that the player’s agent may land the deal the athlete is worth and what most benefits the athlete.
Always evaluate the sports franchise that you are negotiating with on behalf of the athlete. The team may not be able to pay top dollar for the athlete now, but could promise a long-term contract next year if the athlete settled on a one-year contract for the upcoming season. If the agent gets the athlete to sign a one-year deal, the athlete takes a risk by not signing a long-term deal. If the season is subpar, the agent loses bargaining power for that athlete. But these variables can work in the athlete’s favor if he has a great season, giving the agent the bargaining power needed to get the best contract possible.
Agents must establish credibility and be truthful at all times when negotiating a contract. Usually, an agreement between an agent and the team management is made over the telephone. The athlete’s new contract often is announced in a press release that includes the length and salary of the new contract. This is typically done before the contract is officially signed and sealed. The agent and team management must rely on one another that an official agreement has been made and the figures are correct. This good relationship can eventually establish long-term credibility with one another.