Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson fired agent Patrick Lawlor on Monday night, two months before Peterson is expected to begin negotiating an extension with the Cardinals that could see him earn more than $50 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
Peterson, who the Cardinals drafted with the fifth pick in the 2011 NFL draft, is widely regarded as one of the top defensive players in the league and is on pace to make his third consecutive Pro Bowl. He has three interceptions, 10 passes defended, 202 return yards with four touchdowns and 64 yards receiving on the season.
Lawlor took aim at the NFL Players Association on Tuesday night for what he believes is fostering an environment where Lawlor says agents consistently go outside the union's rules to convince a player to switch representation. He said he's likely to file a complaint with the union regarding rules he believes were broken in regards to Peterson.
"The NFLPA refuses to address [client poaching] and it's disgusting," Lawlor said. "No agent out there is willing to talk about it because they're afraid of pissing off the NFLPA or somehow upsetting their existing clients. Well, I'm tired of that. They need to address it. A little guy like me can't compete with these large agencies who are putting these massive marketing guarantees out there. It's a hidden little rule and it's disgusting."
The NFLPA declined comment.
Lawlor is referring to what agents have called a prominent trend in the industry of offering players amounts ranging from as little as $25,000 up to $1 million in order to induce them to sign with the agent for representation. The NFLPA has rules against client poaching and inducements, but they appear to be rarely enforced.
"Do I believe whoever signs [Peterson] offered him a financial inducement to sign him? Yes," Lawlor said. "Only time will tell. But that has been the trend that has been going on where these agents have been stealing clients from other agents by offering them 'marketing guarantees.' It's completely preposterous. It's gotten out of hand but the NFLPA totally disregards it. They don't see it as some type of inducement when it absolutely is. They say in their rules and regulations that you can't provide compensation to players to lure them in as clients, and yet it happens all the time."
Lawlor, who has represented Peterson since he left LSU and declared for the draft, spoke to the personal impact he felt in losing a client he was so close to.
"I was looking at my office today," Lawlor said. "Back in September, I went to see Patrick and he gave me a signed jersey from when he played in the Pro Bowl last year. On it he put, 'To the world's best agent.' It's framed in my office. To turn and look at the letter sitting on my desk dated Nov. 25, that says 'I hereby release you and fire you from your duties of representing me.' What happened in two months?"
Lawlor said he has never filed a grievance for tampering with the NFLPA.
"I've never had to file a grievance against another agent, but many other agents in similar circumstances have," he said. "A player is coming up on a free-agent contract and right before he hits the market another agent comes in and steals him away."
Multiple sources told Yahoo Sports that Peterson's camp has indicated the player intends to sign with Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited.
Segal could not be reached for comment.