I step out for a few drinks, and moderate insanity breaks out. Free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Denver Broncos Saturday evening, removing one more talented wide receiver from the pool. And yet, it appears this is developing into more than just a receiver signing a new contract.
Ian Rapoport is reporting that at least one NFL executive is crying foul over the manner in which Sanders' agent played the whole situation. Apparently Sanders' agent, Steve Weinberg, had agreed to a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. He then reportedly took that deal and shopped it to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Weinberg apparently has since agreed to terms with the Denver Broncos, and as Rapoport put it, blowing off the planned visit with the 49ers.
It's all the more interesting because Weinberg has had his share of problems already as an agent. According to Rapoport, Weinberg was barred and decertified by the NFLPA back in 2003, and was only recently reinstated. Apparently he "diverted assets to an offshore account during a dispute with a partner and collecting a fee from a client prematurely." He filed suit against the NFLPA, but there is not indication of how that played out.
Weinberg apparently has two other clients in the NFL, and he only recently signed Sanders as a client. I suppose he got the deal done, so none of this should really matter, but it will be interesting to see if this impacts his negotiations for his other clients. His remaining clients are fairly low level (Eric Harper, Jordan Pugh, Brandon Smith, Ben Bass), but if he adds more talent, we'll see how his future negotiations play out.
I think most teams can handle things in a fairly professional manner, but when you get into a situation where you've had problems with an agent, I do wonder how it will play out. One example of this for 49ers fans is Michael Crabtree's agent, Eugene Parker. The two sides eventually worked out a deal when Crabtree first came in the league, but it was not exactly an ideal negotiating situation. We don't know where the 49ers stand on their next negotiation with Crabtree, but he is entering his walk year.
I would hope they recognize how great a receiver he is, but it's also possible they recognize that could cost them big bucks. For now he remains under 49ers control, which means they have exclusive negotiating rights. If they can get a moderately reasonable deal done, that would be ideal. However, if they wait and let him hit the market, who knows what some of the salary cap crazy teams out there might do. I still think the team can get him extended, but there is a certain urgency they need to recognize.