That’s the short and all-too-familiar description of most NFL Undrafted Free Agent’s (UFA’s) careers in the NFL.
Most of them end up cut without a second shot at putting on an NFL uniform.
For the most part, there’s very little an agent can do to help a player’s career last longer.
But, there are a couple things a player’s agent can do that will give their client the best chance of making the 53-man roster.
One of them, is knowing how to study current NFL rosters (if the player ends up an undrafted free agent).
Most UDFA’s Don’t Make It
Most undrafted free agents fail to make the 53-man roster; or even an NFL team’s practice squad, for that matter.
Out of the 400 or so UFA’s that get signed after the draft, on average, only 75 or so had draftable grades (aka rated rated enough to get drafted by NFL scouts) going into the draft.
Many of them are brought-in as “camp bodies,” with the team having little-to-no expectations for them to have a shot at making the roster.
Because of these odds, the “heat is on” for agents to identify the teams that will give their clients the best shot at making the roster.
In his article entitled One Agent’s UFA Formula, well-respected veteran NFL agent Jack Bechta reveals the long list of duties an agent has for UFA clients, including the complexity of combing through a teams’ current roster to find the right fit:
I must dig deep and look at previous year’s practice squad players and the injured reserved list to see if there are good players being developed or penciled in for the same spot as my client. I also give consideration to the age, health and contracts of the current players on the roster. It’s also important to know how many players a team carries (active/inactive/practice squad) at your client’s position.
And as if that isn’t enough, if an agent’s client is lucky enough to have multiple teams interested, agents have to figure out:
1. Which team is the most stable (i.e. where the coaching staff isn’t on the hot seat)
2. Which teams have position coach’s at their client’s position that have a reputation as being good teachers
3. Which prospective teams have a plan for their client (to decrease the chance of their client becoming a camp body).
The Player-Agent Relationship
Being that it’s likely to be their only shot at putting on an NFL uniform, it’s wise for undrafted free agents to run checks-and-balances on their agent, and to inquire heavily regarding why their agent feels Team X or Team Z is a good fit.
Now to be fair, agents are human, too (no, they’re not aliens).
Related: 10 Questions to Ask a Sports Agent
It’s the agents job to do this research, but ultimately, it’s the client’s job that’s on the line, so players should feel-free to take part in the process and to make sure their agent is doing the job they were hired for.
What else, in your opinion, should an undrafted free agent do that can help him improve his chances of sticking with a squad? Leave a comment below.
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One Agent’s UFA Formula (via National Football Post)