- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2023

Jacoby Brissett has no patience for spam calls. So when he gets a ring from an unknown number, the new Washington Commanders quarterback never answers. That’s smart for a savvy veteran, but it can also be a bit tricky when representing yourself in free agency. What happens if a team calls and Brissett doesn’t pick up? 

They better leave a message. 

“Once they leave a voicemail, I’ll call ’em right back,” Brissett said. 

As he has over the course of his seven-year career, Brissett negotiated his most recent contract without an agent. The strategy has paid off for the 30-year-old, who signed a one-year, $8 million deal this week that can grow to $10 million if he hits certain incentives. It also gives him a unique perspective as he’s one of the few players who can perhaps understand the dynamic that quarterback Lamar Jackson finds himself in with the Baltimore Ravens.

Like Brissett, Jackson represents himself. And that has become a major focal point of the negotiations in Baltimore, as the two sides try to hammer out a long-term extension. 

Around the league, many observers have speculated that Jackson’s insistence on negotiating a fully guaranteed contract without the help of an agent may have cost the quarterback millions. 

Brissett didn’t expect to sign for the kind of money that Jackson is seeking, but the new Washington Commanders quarterback knows firsthand what it’s like to negotiate directly with a team.

“I don’t see anything wrong with representing yourself,” Brissett said. “He’s done a good job with what’s he doing to be in the position to be fortunate enough to have the opportunity that he’s created for himself. I wish him nothing but the best. … I’m sure he’ll make the right decision for himself and it’ll play out for him.” 

Brissett said he’s enjoyed the process of learning what it takes to get a deal done. Though the quarterback doesn’t have an agent, he’s relied on a team of advisors who helped guide him through the ins and outs of contracts. Still, even with the guidance, Brissett said he loves “taking that accountability” of navigating a negotiation.

He added he’s “never” considered hiring an agent.

“Saving money is always worth it,” Brissett said. 

Brissett’s negotiation with the Commanders, at first glance, has the potential to work well for both sides. The quarterback received a $4.5 million signing bonus, a fully guaranteed $3 million base salary and a $500,000 workout bonus that he’ll hit in the spring. He can earn another $2 million in playtime incentives, as well. 

The Commanders, on the other hand, get a quality signal-caller at an affordable price — one who can compete with Sam Howell for the team’s starting job. The one-year deal allows Brissett to likely hit the market again next year and cash in if he exceeds expectations with Washington. 

Brissett said he was looking for an opportunity that was appealing after a career year in Cleveland. 

With the Browns, Brissett surprised in 2022 with efficient play, 2,608 yards, 12 touchdowns and a 64% completion percentage in 16 games with 11 starts. Brissett, though, knew going into the season that he’d be just a placeholder until Deshaun Watson returned from his 11-game suspension.

And sure enough, the Browns turned to Watson when available.

“When my role changed, that doesn’t change who I am as a man or as a player or as a teammate — I still have a job to do,” said Brissett, who said it was tough to make the switch but credited the Browns for their “complete transparency” in the process. “I still have to go out there and put my best foot forward and be a good teammate. I think I accomplished those things.” 

Brissett’s team-first mentality will likely serve him well in Washington, where the expectation has been that Howell will win the starting job. Asked about competing with Howell on Thursday, Brissett was nothing but complimentary and said they could benefit each other. 

Drafted by the Patriots, the 2016 third-rounder entered the league with that mindset of supporting his teammates, but added Tom Brady and other New England veterans served as an influence as he watched how they lift up the locker room no matter their status. 

Over the next six years — whether as a starter or backup — Brissett tried to keep a similar approach. 

“Going out there and just being myself, that has suited me well,” Brissett said. “Everything else just falls into place.” 

Even if it means the Commanders had to leave a voicemail first.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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