In the competitive world of sports agency, the agent who comes away with the most clients is not necessarily the one on top of the money heap. In fact, as you look through this list you fill find a smorgasbord of agents who have made it to the top of the list who do not have a long list of clients but do have some very lucrative contracts.
Others have taken on a number of midrange level talent contracts with the approach that there are still 100 pennies in a dollar.
The sport that many people follow, American football, is not well-represented in this list. The reason is actually simple. Football has 32 teams with 53 players on their roster, for a total of 1696 potential contracts.
Contrast that to baseball, which has a maximum of 40 players under contract for 30 teams, and the NBA which has 13 player rosters and 30 teams. So there are more football players who are pursuing contracts, spreading out the wealth as it were among the available pool of sports agents.
As for the size of the contract influencing which sports agents make this list, there are likely to be more players from sports other than football simple because of the length of the regular seasons.
The NFL has only 16 actual playing weeks, while baseball has 162 and basketball has 82. Also, the playing career of the average NFL player is significantly shorter than other major sports, making it difficult to lock in a long term contract with management.
There are a number of factors that are involved with being the richest other than just money. A few will be mentioned at the end of the list. For now, as you scan the list keep in mind these are a group of people who have very unique negotiating skills and talents.
20. Dan Lozano - $7 million
Lozano’s success is directly attributed to his decision to go out on his own and create his MVP Sports Group after working for the Beverly Hills Sports Council (unrelated to the city of Beverly Hills government).
That move was the first step in earning $27.4 million a year for handling the contracts of Albert Pujols, Carlos Beltran, Joey Votto, and Josh Donaldson. With a total business of $822 million, Lozano has become what one media outlet calls a “Super Agent.” This label is attached to him because that total business comes from a small 21 player contracts.
Lozano aims for the best talent in baseball and negotiates to a mutually successful end for both player and client.
19. Todd France - $9 million
What Nez Balelo is to the Baseball Division of the Creative Artist Agency, Todd France is to its Football Division. France came over as part of an acquisition of the Five Star Management deal, and brought with him the contracts of Fletcher Cox, Aqib Talib, Demaryius Thomas, and Marcell Dareus, among others.
France bought a majority interest in Five Star before it was finally bought from Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula. The agency credits France with accumulating 45 contracts total, with a value of just over $931 million. This put him into a position to run up his yearly commission total to $27.9 million.
18. Nez Balelo - $14.5 million
The Baseball Division of Creative Artists Agency has benefitted greatly from the presence of Nez Belelo. He has been credited with making the division one of the most dominant in the entire world of sports agency in just a few years.
Negotiating contracts for Andre Ethier, Adam Jones, Ryan Braun, and Jean Segura are a part of the more than $578 million in business he has brought to the company.
What is even more amazing is he has done it through the smallest number of contracts on this list – 21. The highlight of Balelo’s efforts was the signing of Ryan Braun with the Milwaukee Brewers for $145 million. For his expertise and negotiating skills he receives $28.9 million a year.
17. Don Meehan - $23.7 million
Representing hockey on this list, Don Meehan started Newport Sports Management in 1981 and currently has clients Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, Bobby Ryan and Steven Stamkos. It is no secret to most people familiar with American sports that hockey is the lowest paying of the four major sports (with a few exceptions) so Meehan’s $31.5 million commission is actually quite impressive given the general player salaries of the sport.
He manages 55 player’s contracts that total $786.4 million. Also, he has both a sports background (college football) and legal background (tax attorney) giving him the foundation he needs to be one of the most sought after hockey sports agents in the world.
16. Joel Wolfe - $33 million
Joel Wolfe is another name that may have passed your way in the general sports media.
A former minor league baseball player who opted to become a player agent after a short stint in the minors with the Oakland Athletics, he now sits as an Executive Vice President of the Wasserman sports agency, dealing with 30 clients who have negotiated just over $665 million worth of baseball contracts.
The reason his name may have passed your eyes is because he was responsible for negotiating the largest deal in Major League Baseball history - a thirteen year, $325 million dollar for Miami Marlins Giancarlo Stanton. His $33.3 million earnings come from managing 30 clients with contracts totaling more than $665 million.
15. Volker Struth - $37.2 million
When you are trying to be the best at what you do as a sports agent, it can only help to have the best players and clients to help you along.
Such is the case of Volker Struth, who has focused on signing some of the world’s biggest soccer stars in what is arguably the best soccer league in the world – Bundesliga. He has succeeded in nabbing 88 total clients on his way to achieving his goal, including Toni Kroos, Marco Reus, Benedikt Höwedes, Ömer Toprak, and Gonzalo Castro.
But the total of those contracts, $342 million, leaves him behind other agents who have only 75 percent of the number of clients Struth has. He ends every year with $34.3 million dollars in commissions, but not every success can be measured by dollars alone.
14. Mark Bartelstein - $37.44 million
Bartelstein’s claim to sports agency fame is that he negotiated the contract of Cleveland Cavaliers John Williams, a sixth man who end up with a contract of $26.5 million a year, making him higher paid than Michael Jordan in his highest paid year.
That contract was for a total of 7 years, which later attracted NBA talents such as Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and DeMarre Carroll. Bartlestein’s background is in finance, and he founded his current Priority Sports and Entertainment agency in 1985.
He has a relative small number of clients, 31, making an annual commission of $37.4 million. Those 31 contracts total $935 million, making his commission puzzlingly low.
13. Tom Condon - $37.5 million
As we break from the top 10 agents, we find an agent who actually played the sport he represents professionally. Condon is a former offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL.
But he is not just brawn and bulk. He earned a law degree while playing his professional career and represented NFL players during his time as an active Kansas City player.
His background in football is even more impressive when you add to his resume his service as President of the National Football League’s Player Association for three years.
His list of clients includes quarterback Eli Manning and defensive lineman and the 2017 NFL Player of the Year, J. J. Watt. Add to that stellar list Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, and Matt Ryan, and you see why the total number of his clients is a low 35. But those contracts total $1.7 billion, making him a sports agent who clearly knows his business.
12. Mino Raiola - $37.6 million
Specializing in soccer, Raiola pursues the top soccer players in the world, not only in skill but also in popularity. Exactly how he manages each individual client is shrouded in mystery, but the results speak for themselves.
He has signed Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku, Blaise Matuidi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Marco Verratti. As founder and owner of his own sports management agency, he brings in an annual commission of $43.5 million from $434.7 million in contracts.
Through attracting a total of 55 clients, he has established himself as one of the world’s elite sports agents.
11. Joel Segal - $40 million
Though most of the names on this list go on the offense to acquire the best deal for the player and themselves, Segal can be said to focus on defense – American football defense.
He has signed top tier talent from several NFL teams, including Justin Houston, Terrell Suggs, and Patrick Peterson. Segal has been recognized by his alma mater, George Washington University, for his efforts and was inducted into their Sports Executive Hall of Fame.
Managing the contracts of 85 football players, he has rung up a total of $893 million for his agency, Lagardère Sports, from which he gets a $26.8 million yearly commission.
10. Pat Brisson - $44.1 million
Brisson is an agent that you made have heard something about in popular media, as he is the leading sports agent representing NHL hockey players.
Think Sidney Crosby, who is one of his premier clients and who he negotiated a 12 year, $104 million+ deal with the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguin franchise.
What is even more impressive is Brisson has represented five of the overall number one picks in the NHL draft over the last 10 years. That is an indication of his negotiating skill and power. Earning $41.1 million from $1.1 billion of hockey contracts, other than Crosby he manages Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane.
9. Jonathan Barnett - $40.4 million
Barnett’s first sports contract was with a Cricket player. From there he has become one of the world’s most prolific agents for soccer players worldwide.
His annual take is $53.4 million, and has the most number of clients of anyone on this list at 116. The total of those contracts is only $534 million, which comes out to a tidy 10 percent per contract on average.
As a sports agent for the Stellar Group, he manages soccer players Gareth Bale, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Adrien Silva, and Adam Lallana, among others.
8. Jeff Schwartz – $40.65 million
You could probably switch the #5 and #6 spots on the list because Jeff Schwartz is the founder and owner of Excel Sports Management, the agency Casey Close is employed by.
If you are wondering how Close out commissions his owner, the answer is that Close specializes in baseball and Schwartz in basketball. Consider Schwartz’s list of top clients - Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Kevin Love. The 49 clients he manages have a total of $1.7 billion in contracts of which he makes $64 million in commissions.
7. Casey Close - $40.7 million
With annual commissions of just under $65 million, Casey Close is one of the more unusual sports agents in that he was actually a minor league baseball player.
His clients include Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Masahiro Tanaka, Dexter Fowler, and Paul Goldschmidt. Initially he worked for the famous IMG sports agency but finally landed at Excel Sports Management.
He has a comparatively small number of clients, 47, which totals about $1.3 billion in contracts, and as you can see those contracts are worth a hefty amount.
6. Greg Genske - $42 million
When it comes to focusing in on baseball talent from Central and South American countries, no one in the top 10 on this list even comes close.
Working with The Legacy Agency, Greg Genske uses his Newport Beach, California base as a point of contact for his many baseball talent contacts in the Latin American countries.
Beneficiaries of his talent include Melky Cabrera, Scott Kazmir, Justin Turner, and Martin Prado. With a total of 103 clients, he earns $48.6 million a year from contracts totaling just over $593 million.
5. Drew Rosenhaus - $65 Million
There were a number of close contenders for this final spot, but Rosenhaus gets the nod because he has a well-deserved reputation as “The Shark.” He started his own sports agency business with his brother, Jason, and rakes in about $26 million for his efforts.
He has persuaded 70 NFL clients to run with his agency and has received more than a little media attention over the last few years. Players include Antonio Brown, Joe Haden, Rob Gronkowski, T.Y. Hilton, and Frank Gore adding up to a total of just over $866 million in business.
4. Sam and Seth Levinson - $67 million
This is a team effort, and some may say that this qualifies the tandem from being on the list. But they have a single sports agency they do business under, ACES, is one they own.
A New York based agency, they have collected over $1 billion in baseball contracts, representing players such as Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, and David Wright. Their annual commission take is $65 million. (By the way, if you divided their total by 2 they each would make the list individually.) Their 68 clients have contracts worth $1.3 billion.
3. Jorge Mendes - $88 million
Mendes represents the second tier of sports agents, with his annual contract commissions totaling just under $77 million a year. That is a steep 25 percent drop off from the top two on this list.
Mendes works for the Gestifute International sports management agency and has the unique honor of being chosen as FIFA's Agent of the Year – an award won by polling his peers.
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that his primary focus in to find contract opportunities primarily for Portuguese players, which limits his potential considerably.
He has 102 clients who are under contract with their teams for just under $770 million a year. Famous soccer names include Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Diego Costa, Angel Di Maria, and Bernardo Silva.
2. Constantin Dumitrascu - $89 million
Constantin Dumitrascu works for Mondial Sports Management and his annual commission take is not far behind Boras at $107 million. The difference is the total value of his player contracts is just over $1 billion, half of what Boras has.
That means he makes a higher per contract commission, which can be seen as necessarily acting in the individual player’s best interest. Dumitrascu has a growing and popular reputation of being all business when it comes to contract negotiations, something club owners and management are very comfortable with.
He currently has 87 client contracts to manage which includes Edinson Cavani, Phillipe Coutinho, Douglas Costa, Nemanja Matic, Dimitri Payet, and Kante N'Golo.
1. Scott Boras - $100 million
Even if you don’t follow the sports agent news very closely it is likely you have heard of the name Scott Boras. There is a reason for this, beyond the fact that he makes the top of this list. He is his own man – and corporation.
By trade, Boras is a lawyer and has amassed $2 billion worth of contracts to his credit. One not familiar with the world of sports agency might thing Boras is feared by owners and management of professional teams, but he is also feared by competitors who are trying to take away his prize clients.
His primary focus in in baseball, and manages the contracts for Prince Fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Shin-Soo Choo, and Chris Davis. He has 76 individual player contracts that he manages that earn him just over $108 million a year in commissions.
Honorable Mention: Diana Day – under review
A special note is being made here for Diana Day of the Landmark Sports Agency. She is in the Top 30 of all sports agents, but is the only woman in that group.
Her talent has shown other women they too can succeed in the competitive world of sports negotiation. If you doubt that, Diana has negotiated the contracts for NBA players James Harden, Andre Iguodala, Dion Waiters, and Eric Gordon.
She manages only 13 contracts to date, but the total of those 13 contracts exceeds $560 million. If you compare those numbers to the Top 20, you will find she is not far behind – and has come a long way in a very short period of time.
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Written by Garrett Parker
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