TEMPE, Ariz. – An hour after Pat Lawlor returned to his Florida home Monday evening from attending the Arizona Cardinals-Indianapolis Colts game, he received a call from his star client, Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. It wasn’t to discuss the big win or to continue planning Peterson’s upcoming contract negotiations.
Peterson called to fire Lawlor, who had been his agent since he was drafted in 2011. By Tuesday morning, Lawlor received a letter in the mail finalizing his firing.
“To me, I don’t know what happened,” Lawlor said Wednesday night. “Everything seemed fine.”
The timing was curious to Lawlor because Peterson can begin negotiating a new contract after the Cardinals' season concludes. He said he believes another agent poached Peterson -- a violation of NFL Players Association rules -- potentially by offering money and discounting Lawlor’s ability to negotiate a major deal.
Lawlor, whose only two active-roster clients as of last week were Peterson and Cardinals teammate Tyrann Mathieu, said he had never negotiated a big contract, but “to think I can’t negotiate a deal with an NFL team is preposterous.”
Peterson was not available for comment Wednesday night. But Patrick Peterson Sr. said he doesn't believe his son would break the rules to sign with a different agent.
“My son, he does everything the right way,” Peterson Sr. said. “There’s nothing nobody can say negative [about him]. It wasn’t nothing personal or anything. Pat Lawlor is a great guy. It’s a business move for my son. He’s only 23 years old. He wants to make sure everything is on point when it comes down to that next contract.”
By NFLPA rules, Peterson must wait five days to hire a new agent, which would be Monday at the earliest because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Peterson's father said he hasn’t discussed a potential new agent with his son, but he believes Patrick has somebody in mind.
Lawlor believes Peterson should be the highest-paid defensive player in the league and could command as much as $50 million guaranteed. He said he began preliminary discussions with the Cardinals, mainly about figuring out a timetable for the negotiations, but Lawlor thinks his lack of experience negotiating mega-deals led to his firing.
“In Patrick’s mind I think it means a lot,” Lawlor said. “It means a lot because they don’t know me. That’s the scapegoat for the arguing point. Well, I’ve done these. They act like it’s brain surgery, but it’s not.”
All this leaves Lawlor with Mathieu as his lone client on an active NFL roster, but Lawlor doesn’t think he’ll leave, too.
“There’s always a concern,” Lawlor said. “But I don’t think so. I’ve spoken to him. He’s a different young man. He’s different. Tyrann gets it. He found a home with Arizona. He loves playing football. That’s his home. We were a vital part of working with him.
“I've had multiple discussions with him. I don’t think that’s a realm of possibility. Him and I are very candid with each other.”
Even though Lawlor said he understands it’s part of the business, he was still shocked and disappointed after talking to Peterson. But Peterson's father insists it wasn’t personal.
“I guess my son’s feeling is he wants to get it right the first time, and I respect him for that,” Peterson Sr. said. “Pat Lawlor is a great person, great family guy. He does everything by the book. We love him. It happens.”