Late last month, New York Jets second-round quarterback Geno Smith fired his agents after falling out of Round 1 in the 2013 NFL draft. Smith is expected to announce a decision on a new agent soon — the favorite is Jay-Z's "Roc Nation" sports agency — but he won't be the only Jets draft pick to change agents after being selected slightly later than expected.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Jets first-round pick Dee Milliner has fired Impact Sports after he was not selected with one of the first five picks in the 2013 NFL draft. Milliner "tumbled" all the way to the ninth overall pick in the draft.
Milliner was expected to be a first round pick, but there were no iron-clad guarantees that he would be selected in the top five, or even the top ten. In our pre-draft, "Shutdown 50" series, Milliner was ranked ninth by editor Doug Farrar, who had Milliner going to the Cleveland Browns with the sixth overall pick in his mock draft. Greg Cosell had Milliner going to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 17 pick in his mock draft.
Milliner was represented by Tony Fleming and Mitch Frankel, who were set to negotiate Milliner's four-year rookie contract which would be worth around $12.66 million, all of which would be fully guaranteed, including a $7,588,072 signing bonus. Based on the contract signed by Detroit Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah on May 10, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Milliner would have received a four-year contract worth $18,594,502 in fully guaranteed money.
"I know that everything was done to ensure that Mr. Milliner would be drafted as high as possible," Fleming told Rapoport. "Dee was the first cornerback selected, and he was drafted ninth overall to the New York Jets. This is a tremendous accomplishment. I wish Mr. Milliner future success in his professional career."
Per NFLPA rules, Milliner has to wait five days before he can officially hire a new agent.
While there is a nearly $6 million difference in the value of the first (and perhaps only) NFL contract Milliner will sign, it's difficult to see how falling out of the top five can be pinned on Fleming or Frankel as neither agent was in charge of a draft war room making those selection. Perhaps Milliner was promised he'd go in the top five, but on the surface, that seems doubtful. Fleming and Frankel have three dozen active players and Impact Sports (Sean Kiernan is a third agent with that agency) as a group has over 50 active players in the NFL and 2013 was not this group's first rodeo.
Among their active client list, a dozen players were selected in the first two rounds of the draft, with six players chosen in Round 1, including Green Bay Packers linebacker Datone Jones, the No. 26 overall pick in the 2013 draft.
Kluwe, a native of Southern California, is looking forward to playing in his home state.
"I’m excited to be an Oakland Raider and be playing in California," said Kluwe. "Now, my family can actually come to games."
Kluwe spent eight seasons with the Vikings and was scheduled to earn $1.45 million in base salary and bonuses in the final year of his contract. According to Ayanbadejo, Kluwe's deal with the Raiders is for the veteran minimum, which for Kluwe, is $840,000.
The 31-year-old Kluwe had speculated that his release was due, in part, to his vocal support and advocacy for marriage equality, both nationally and in the state of Minnesota. Vikings GM Rick Spielman, who used a fifth-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft on punter Jeff Locke, denied that accusation, which he called "off-base". Kluwe finished the 2012 season with the highest net punting average of his career (39.7 yards), but ranked towards the bottom of the league in placing punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line and was one of three regular punters to not have at least one punt of 60 yards.
Kluwe joined first-year player Marquette King and undrafted rookie Bobby Cowan on the Raiders, who lost free agent Shane Lechler to the Houston Texans this offseason. According to Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, the Raiders ranked 31st in special teams DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) last season and their punting unit ranked 31st, as well. Earlier this week, the Raiders took a step towards improving their punt coverage unit by agreeing to terms with Josh Cribbs, a solid return man who had 24 special teams tackles for the Cleveland Browns over the last two seasons.
The Raiders will need to clear a roster spot to officially add Kluwe, which means King, or most likely Cowan, will be released as carrying three punters is not feasible even with a 90-man roster during the offseason.
Off the field, Kluwe returns to California in the same week that Minnesota officially approved a marriage equality bill and at a time where many are awaiting a decision from the United States Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state of California.
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