Joel Corry is a former sports agent and is a NFL contracts and salary cap expert for CBS Sports. He is also a member of the faculty for Sports Management World Wide where he teaches courses for aspiring sports agents.
We caught up with Joel Corry for this week’s Friday Five…
Who is your biggest mentor?
Two people, and it goes back to when I first got into the sports industry as an agent.
Leonard Amato, who was my first boss. He represented Ronnie Lott, Hakeem Olajuawon and Shaquille O’Neal. Also, Gary Uberstein who was the head of the football department. He instantly became someone that I left to found a sports agency with.
Leonard from the standpoint that this guy was amazing in terms of how he could connect with people and trying to gain anything from his people skills and incorporate that into myself. As a boss, if you showed an aptitude for something, he would continually give you more and more stuff to do until you showed you couldn’t do more than he was putting on your plate and wasn’t someone who would micromanage.
Since I worked closely with Gary—first at Leonard’s agency and then when we left to found our own agency, I learned the intricacies of the football business and NFL contracts we managed from Gary. Anytime we had a negotiation, we would put into writing what our position was and we’d be able to defend it with facts and data. Little did I know that years later that would come in handy because of the stuff I write. (Read Joel Corry’s work at CBS Sports)
What advice would you give to young, aspiring NFL agents?
First, I’d say if you want to be an NFL agent…I’m going to plug myself…take my certification course through SMWW if you want to pass that test.
Two, I would say, once you become certified, be realistic on who you recruit to start with. When you first start out, you’re not going to sign the Aidan Hutchinsons of the world. Maybe you’re looking at Day 3 picks/priority free agents. Also, remember that it’s not the person who negotiates the best contract or has the most clients who will necessarily sign someone—obviously that helps—but that they develop a rapport and gain the trust of decision makers whether that is the player himself or the parents or whoever else is part of the process.
What has been the most surprising part of the 2022 NFL offseason?
The receiver market…
First, I don’t think anyone reasonably expected Christian Kirk to get $18 million per year or $37 million fully guaranteed at signing on a four-year deal. You’d expect that Kirk, when you sign him, would be able to produce 80 catches and 1,200 yards. That’s what you should be paying him for. The incentives are [another] $3 million annually. They start at $500,000 for 80 catches, another $500,000 for 90 catches, another $500,000 for 100. 1000 yards is another $500,000. 1,100 yards is another $500,000. 1,200 yards is another $500,000. So, if he’s a 100-catch/1,200-yard guy, he’s a $21 million receiver. This was a guy that played in the slot 79% last year and has never had a 1,000 yard season.
Then, the fact that the $20 million per year barrier is something that everyone seems to be going past. When you started the offseason, there were four guys who were at that mark or above it—DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Keenan Allen. Now, you have nine…and it’s going to continue. You’ve got the guys in the 2019 Draft class who are up for contract extensions: Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown, DK Metcalf. The Rams supposedly are going to “reward Cooper Kupp”—I don’t know what that means. You’re going to have double digit receivers making more than $20 million per year. It was less than one hand for the number of guys when the offseason started.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Embrace the ups and downs of the journey and don’t be so focused on what the result is. How you handle adversity goes a long way in where you ultimately end up.
If you could invite any three people in history to dinner, who would they be and why?
Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X and Jackie Robinson…
My understanding is that Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X only met once. The fact that they had different approaches to the civil rights movement—I think that would be an interesting conversation. The autobiography of Malcolm X is one of the best books I’ve ever read—I read it in college—just his whole transformation journey from being in prison to becoming a leader in the Nation of Islam to eventually embracing traditional Islam.
Jackie Robinson, because he is arguably the best athlete this country’s ever produced. He is famous for his worst sport in college. He was a four-sport letterman in college, won the long jump championship…would have been a favorite for a gold medal in the 1940 Olympics had they existed in the long jump, was one of the leading scorers in the forerunner to the Pac-12 in basketball, was the leading rusher from UCLA Football.
The fact is: he wasn’t the best African American athlete, but was tapped to break the color line because of his temperament. Initially, he was going to have to turn the other cheek and not retaliate to open doors for other people to come behind. That’s kind of surprising given what happened when he was a Second Lieutenant in the Army. He had a “Rosa Parks” incident and eventually was out of the Army. He was up for court martial, because he wouldn’t move to the back of the bus—even though on the Army post there was no more segregation, and he ended up being acquitted in a court martial.
He’s an interesting person to me from the standpoint of what he did in baseball and the incident beforehand. He was a Republican back when roughly 30% of African Americans would vote in a presidential election for the Republican Party pre-Southern Strategy. He supported Nixon while Martin Luther King supported Kennedy in 1960. That one incident, I should say “event”, of Martin Luther King supporting Kennedy really took the black vote over to Kennedy, and Jackie Robinson was on the other end of the spectrum with Nixon. So, I think that’d be an interesting dinner conversation among the three of them for non-sports reasons.
Thanks to Joel Corry of CBS Sports for participating in this interview, check out more of our Friday Five interviews, here.