Elvis Dumervil's agent is named Gary Wichard. The last time we had cause to really get to know an agent up close and personal, it was our buddy Bus Cook, Jay Cutler's agent. I definitely don't want to go through that again. I am not sure how much of Cutler's behavior was due to Cook's recommendations, but I know we don't want a repeat of the 2009 offseason.
Here is a brief look at Gary Wichard and his history of big contract deals. First, We'll look at who Wichard represents. Then, we'll take some comps from previous years. We'll look at the contract amount, the length of the terms, the timeframe of the signing, and we'll also look for a pattern in Wichard's actions to try to discern his negotiation tactics.
Jump on it!Gary Wichard founded Pro Tect Management in 1980. A former player, Gary has an impressive list of clients. Darren Heitner of SportsAgentBlog.com has this to say about Wichard:
"Wichard and Pro Tect Management represent Jason Taylor, Dwight Freeney, Terrell Suggs, Keith Bulluck, Antonio Cromartie, Elvis Dumervil, Darren Sproles…okay, I’ll stop now before I take up the entire post with their fantastic list of clients. Wichard keeps these guys because he signs them to record deals. It also helps him on the recruiting trail, which he is dominating so far in 2010...
"At this point, it is reported that Pro Tect Management has signed Arrelious Benn (Illlinois), Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame), Everson Griffen (USC), Taylor Mays (USC), and C.J. Spiller (Clemson). All of them have a chance of being first round picks in the 2010 NFL Draft. Is CAA watching?"
A few of these high-profile players have signed record contracts under Wichard's services. The Chargers recently hit Darren Sproles with a $6.6 million franchise tag. That's great, but we know that teams look at comps for similar positions. No problem! Wichard seems to specialize in defensive tackles and defensive ends. The Raiders' Pro Bowl DE/DT Tommy Kelly, infamous for lookin' like a fool with his pants on the ground against the Broncos last season, was signed to a record 7-year, $50.5 million contract on Feb. 28, 2008. Terrell Suggs of the Ravens was signed to a 6-year, $63 million deal on July 15, 2009. The grandaddy of all defensive deals was secured for Dwight Freeney on July 17, 2007. Freeney signed a 6-year, $72 million dollar contract, making him the highest-paid defensive player up to that point (currently, Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth's $100 million deal over 8 years, which was signed on February 27, 2009, is the top-paid defensive player).
So Wichard has experience getting big money for defensive tackles and defensive ends. But let's look at some facts that might be able to shed some light on his tactics. Does he encourage players to hold out? Does he play hardball? Is he Bus Cook, or is he Jerry Freakin' Maguire?
The signings in February and March are just deals that were completed early. But the two big ones above, Suggs and Freeney, were signed in mid-July (2009 and 2007, respectively). The Suggs contract looks like it was done in time, but we have to look to the year before to find some clues about Wichard. In 2008, Suggs did hold out, until August 20, "on the advice of his agent," until he signed an 8.47 million tender. He held out to protest the fact that the Ravens had placed a franchise tag on him.
"It was the business side of it. I really didn't want to do it because I love football and running around," Suggs said in explaining his 23-day absence. "It was really no big deal. It gave me extended time to further prepare myself for the season."
Suggs expressed optimism that a long-term deal will be worked out with the Ravens. His return wasn't tied to any conditions and the team is free to franchise him again after this season. There are no financial penalties affixed for missing camp.
"I'm highly optimistic they'll eventually get something done," Suggs said. "I can't worry about it now. I haven't lost faith in them. I still think they want me here. That's all I've got to go on."
Suggs said he's going to treat several defensive players this week for an elaborate, expensive dinner as a penance for not reporting on time.
The Ravens did want him there, and paid a record wage to have him there the following off-season, before he ever had a chance to hold out. The part that might upset some Broncos fans in the fact that the agent advised Suggs to hold out. It paid off in the end for Suggs, and apparently for the Ravens.
The gigantic Freeney contract also came on the heels of a franchise tag.
Freeney's situation was win/win/win. Freeney was committed to the team with a great attitude, he got his money, his agent got the contract, and the Colts held on to a productive,, high character player. This kind of development is the ideal, and Broncos fans should hope and pray that Dumervil's negotiations go as smoothly.
It should be noted that Brian Bosworth filed a lawsuit against Gary Wichard and Pro Tect Management for recommending a financial advisor who did some shady things with Bosworth's money, but that has nothing to do with Wichard's negotiation tactics.
This is not a comprehensive list of all the players Wichard represents. This post is intended to give a feel for the negotiations of players similar to Dumervil. That being said, the uncapped year and the looming CBA negotiations might change everything. So far, however, Dumervil has carried himself like a class act, and Wichard seems to have a history of getting the big contract without a huge holdout most of the time. Even in the case where there was a holdout, relations between the team and player were not strained beyond repair. The Broncos and their fans could be in a much worse situation with a different agent in the mix here.
I will not draw any further conclusions. That's what the comments section is for. Have at it! Compare, contrast, and speculate.
http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/article/138611 by Liz Mullen