11 Best Agents In Pro Sports
In today’s world, pro athlete salaries are higher today than they ever have been before. And while the first steps toward $100 million contracts were taken years ago by the player unions that fought for free agency, there’s no doubt that, in recent years, players’ agents have been a driving force in the rise of astronomical salaries and long-term contracts.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the best agents in the world of pro sports.
Now, you could just rank agents according to the value of their top contracts. But because of the various salary cap structures and collective bargaining agreements, the marketplace for talent is different in each sport. So it’s not necessarily fair to compare a baseball agent to a basketball agent in terms of dollar signs alone.
Thus, this ranking tries to balance the amount of cash these people have raked with the relative influence they have in their sports. And bonus points go to those agents who get ridiculous contracts that they’re players probably don’t quite deserve.
So did I do a good job? There’s only one way to find out.
Well, right off the bat I’m gonna cheat and call #12 a three-way tie. I didn’t want to call it a tie but, while no one from this three-man agency would make the list on their own, you cannot deny the awesomeness of their collective work.
Not only did they get Carl Crawford a nonsensical 7-year $142 million contract with the Red Sox by sending out a bunch of iPads loaded with a Crawford highlight reel. They are also behind the worst contract in baseball—Vernon Wells’ $126 million deal that saw him earn $23 million last year.
So with their insane ability to over-extract dollars from the sports market, there was no way I could leave these guys off the list.
11.Greg Genske/Brian Peters/Scott Parker
This NFL agent worked out deals for Will Smith, Levi Brown, DeAngelo Hall, and Reggie Bush worth $240 million. Not bad, right? Then he signed Michael Vick while he was still in prison and got everyone’s favorite animal lover a 6-year $100 million contract, despite the fact that there’s no way a QB known for his ability to scramble will be worth $16 million when he’s 37. (Well, at least, that’s not a bet I would take with my own money...if I had some.)
10. Joel Segal
Eugene Parker doesn’t quite rank up there with other agents in terms of contract values (although that $120,000,000 zinger he worked out for Larry Fitzgerald before this last season is pretty okay). Instead, what makes Parker stand out among other agents is his list of devoted clients—from current stars like Fitzgerald, Hines Ward, Steven Jackson, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Crabtree, to legends like Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders.
And speaking of Neon Deion, it was Eugene Parker who introduced him at his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this past August.
When an agent is inducting his player into the Hall of Fame, he’s doing something right.
9. Eugene Parker
You can’t give a guy too much credit for getting a guy like Kobe Bryant (who was until very recently the hands-down best player in the NBA) huge money. If you’re lucky enough to sign Kobe, you’d have to be an idiot not to cash in on him. But you can give him credit for not blowing his golden ticket , and for using his leverage to get (possibly) above-market deals for guys like Andre Igoudala, Chris Kaman, and Carlos Boozer.
8. Rob Pelinka
Fernando Cuza has a little bit of a monopoly on hot young baseball prospects coming out of Latin America. And, um, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but that’s pretty much the #1 source of top MLB talent these days. A Cuban American, Cuza’s top earning clients include Miguel Cabrera ($152,000,000), Alfonso Soriano ($138,000,000...oh those poor Cubs), David “Big Papi” Ortiz ($64,500,000), and Mariano Rivera ($30,000,000). And previously, he had Miguel Tejada signed to a $72,000,000 deal...somewhere. It’s hard to keep track of where that guy is playing anymore.
7. Fernando Cuza
You may have read recently about how Dan Lozano’s biggest client—some guy named Albert Pujols—signed a little $254,000,000 deal with the Anaheim Angels of Orange Country California, Los Angeles Division. It was the 2nd largest contract in the history of pro sports, right behind A-Rod’s current deal. So Lozano is having a pretty good year...except for that nasty expose they did over at Deadspin that reveals him to be a pretty huge sleeze. But whatever—he’s filthy rich!
Anyway, Lozano has some other high profile clients winding down their careers (like Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young), but Pujols’s new contract is the feather in his cap.
So why doesn’t that monster contract get Lozano a better spot on the list? Because the guy has yet to prove he can get a monster deal for someone who isn’t obviously the best player in baseball, that’s why. Get some deals like the ones for Soriano or Jayson Werth, then we’ll talk.
(FYI, that's Lozano on the left, probably telling Cardinals GM John Mozeliak "there's no way you can afford my guy.")
6. Dan Lozano
Casey Close has been Jeter’s agent since the beginning. And while I love Jeter, he’s always been a little overrated. So, in my opinion, that 10-year $189 million contract Jeter signed with the Yanks back in 2000 was a stroke of brilliance on behalf of Mr. Close.
Also ridiculously brilliant? Ryan Howard’s $125 million contract with the Phillies that starts this year, when the man is 32 years old. That $55 million deal he got the Royals to give Gil “Who?” Meche was pretty sharp, too. Oh, and let’s not forget that new 3-year $51 million deal Jeter signed last year...which is ridiculous for a guy of his diminishing ability.
So hat’s off to Casey Close. The guy knows what he’s doing.
5. Casey Close
Tom Condon is a legendary NFL agent who’s pretty much cornered the market on stud QBs and hot QB prospects (like Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan). The $99 million contract he got for Peyton Manning isn’t so astounding, given how great Manning clearly was at the time. But the $97 million contract for little bro Eli was a doozy. (Yes, the guy can be a big game player at times, but he hasn’t dominated like his big brother.)
In short, if you want a top QB, there’s about a 50% chance you’ll have to deal with Tom Condon. Which is amazing (for Tom Condon).
4. Tom Condon
Arn Tellem is the agent in the NBA. He has 8 clients making more than $10 million a year right now, and three of them (Pau Gassol, Joe Johnson, and Brandon Roy) are or will soon be making about $20,000,000 a year. This is all great news for MVP Derrick Rose, a Tellem client who is due for a new contract after this year. It’s pretty bad news for the Bulls.
3. Arn Tellem
Drew Rosenhaus may not have the biggest NFL contracts, but he does have the most—about 150, to be precise. And in my opinion, that makes him a pretty big player in one of the biggest pro sports leagues in the world.
Among Rosenhaus’s clients in recent years have been such high-profile characters like Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, Jeremy Shockey, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, Santana Moss, DeSean Jackson, and Ricky Williams. Did all of these guys live up to their hype? No. But why was there so much hype? (Hint: I think Rosenhaus had something to do with it.)
2. Drew Rosenhaus
Scott Boras is one of the most feared men in sports, both among GMS, owners, and fans.
Why? Because everyone knows that, if a guy is good, Boras will somehow make someone pay him a ton a money.
Does he use CIA interrogation tactics? Who knows. But the results are undeniable:
$275 million for A-Rod at the age of 32; $180 million for Mark Texiera; $126 million for Barry Zito; $120 million for Matt Holliday; and God-knows how much for free agent Prince Fielder.
So as much as it pains me to admit it, Scott Boras is clearly the best agent in pro sports.