Russell Okung to test free agency without agent

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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It's rare for any professional athlete to go through a career full of contract negotiations and re-negotiations, without an agent.

But that's exactly what Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Russell Okung intends to do starting now.

The former sixth-overall draft pick wrote his own declaration of independence Monday via The Players' Tribune, explaining how he will go into free agency at the end of the 2015 season minus an agent.

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Okung explained his thought process: "Did I, entering the final year of my rookie contract and what I believe will be the prime of my career, really need someone else to tell me my worth and not only 'find me a deal,' but take a cut of it?

"No. So, before I became a free agent, I decided to free my agent."

Before his rookie year -- and before the rookie cap was set by the new CBA in 2011 -- Okung signed a six-year, $48.5 million deal with more than $20 million in guaranteed money, a contract negotiated by agent Peter Schaffer. He's currently the 11th-highest paid offensive lineman in the league based on per-year average salary. Now 27 years old, Okung clearly has his sights set higher, possibly at Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith's record eight-year, $98 million extension.

While Okung will avoid paying his agent a 3-percent commission on his new deal, he will be taking a sizable risk attempting to negotiate big numbers without counsel.

NFL Media's Rand Getlin tweeted his thoughts on the matter: "There's a plausible argument that rookies can do without agents (tho [sic] I think it'd be a mistake), but for large free agent deals? Not wise."

In the prime of his career, Okung could be sacrificing bargaining power and a lot of dollars -- potentially more than an agent's 3 percent -- but he's clearly more comfortable betting on himself.

"I know my worth," Okung continued. "I can look at the market and go directly to a team without an agent and tell that team my worth. And I can do so with confidence because I've done my research, I've educated myself and I've questioned the answers I've been given."

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses recent news from around the league, including the new contracts for Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas.

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