Who Are the Best Sports Agents of All Time?

What would athletes do without the best sports agents in the world to guide them? 

Handling everything from salary and endorsement deals to communication with team owners and even filing taxes, sports agents manage the professional (and sometimes) personal lives of the clients they represent.  

Stay tuned to find out more about the most famous sport agents, their careers and their best deals. From what sport they cover to their most famous clients, commissions and even some interesting facts about them—we have it all. 

Let’s get the ball rolling!

The Top Ten Sports Agents: A Quick Overview 

  • Scott Boras
  • Jonathan Barnett
  • Jorge Mendes
  • Mino Raiola
  • Jeff Schwartz
  • Casey Close
  • Joel Wolfe
  • David Mulugheta
  • Jay Z
  • Sam and Seth Levinson

1. Scott Boras

  • Sport: Baseball 
  • Net Worth: $450 million
  • Number of Clients: 175
  • Biggest Clients: Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Chris Davis, Jacoby Ellsbury 
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $188.8 million

Scott Boras, founder and owner of the Boras Corporation, is one of the richest sports agents of all time. Specialising in baseball, Boras continually climbs to the top of the world’s best and most famous sports managers. 

Currently, he leads the pack among the highest paid agents with a portfolio of colossal deals, including Bryce Harper’s $330 million contract with the Phillies and Gerrit Cole’s $324 million deal with the Yankees. This top baseball agent reached another milestone in 2019, having negotiated three contracts worth a total of $818 million in just three days.

Scott Boras has a client list with around 175 baseball players, including famous names such as former first baseman Chris Davis, Los Angeles Angels’ Anthony Rendon, pitcher Max Scherzer, and the great Bryce Harper. 

Working with so many brilliant names, it’s no wonder Scott Boras has a net worth of over $400 million. His contract totals stand at $2.4 billion with a whopping $188.8 million in commissions since Boras takes a 5% fee on all the deals he negotiates. 

Before becoming Scott Boras the agent, this 68-year-old Sacramento native practised law as a medical litigator. He also received his Doctor of Pharmacy Degree from the University of the Pacific in 1977 and played Minor League Baseball for the St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs for a short period of time. 

2. Jonathan Barnett

  • Sport: Football 
  • Net Worth: $142.3 million
  • Number of Clients: 388
  • Biggest Clients: Saul Niguez, Jordan Pickford, Gareth Bale, Maxi Gómez, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jack Grealish
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $142.3 million

Jonathan Barnett is the high-profile agent behind sports figures such as Manchester City’s Jack Grealish, Valencia striker Maxi Gómez, and Welsh football superstar Gareth Bale. 

Barnett co-founded the Stellar football agency in 1992, turning it into one of the biggest names in the world of sports managers. In 2020, the Hollywood literary and talent agency ICM purchased Stellar Group, extending the agency’s portfolio to film and music, as well as NFL and NBA stars. Since the takeover, Barnett has served as the executive chairman of the newly-formed ICM Stellar Sports management agency. 

One of the aspects that gives Barnett an edge over the competition and ranks him second among the top sports agents is the percentage he earns from commissions. Typically, football sports agents get 10% of the commission, while figures are capped at 3 to 5% for other sports. 

Thus, Barnett, who manages around 380 clients and has closed contracts worth $1.4 billion, brings in over $140 million in commissions for his agency. 

Speaking of closing massive deals, Barnett’s biggest contract is arranging Gareth Bale’s transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013 for a then-record fee of 85 million pounds.

But there is more to Jonathan Barnett than football. He actually started his career by representing world-famous cricket player Brian Lara and is known as the man who introduced legendary fighter Lennox Lewis to the boxing world.

3. Jorge Mendes

  • Sport: Football 
  • Net Worth: $130 million
  • Number of Clients: 137
  • Biggest Clients: Cristiano Ronaldo, Ederson, Fabinho, Bernardo Silva, José Mourinho, Diego Costa
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $104 million

The next name on the list of successful sports agents is Jorge Mendes, founder of GestiFute, established in 1996 in Portugal. Mendes is well-known in the world of soccer sports agents, primarily because he has been Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent since 2003. 

Jorge Mendes has a clients list filled with more famous sports names like Manchester City‘s Joao Cancelo, Spanish national representative Diego Costa and ‘The Special One’ José Mourinho. 

Mendes shows no signs of stagnating, as can be clearly seen from his list of over 130 clients, 21 of whom play in the Premier League.  

As a result, Jorge Mendes has an estimated net worth of $130 million. The soccer titan has arranged more than $1 billion in active contracts, and he returns $100 million commission for GestiFute on a yearly basis thanks to the 10% sports agent commission he earns out of every contract.

In addition, Mendes is the mastermind behind a lot of money-spinning transfers in football every year. Some of the most memorable ones include:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, 2003—£12.24 million
  • Ricardo Carvalho, Porto to Chelsea, 2004—just under €30 million
  • Anderson, Porto to Manchester United, 2007—undisclosed fee
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United to Real Madrid, 2009—£80 million

Nevertheless, the most significant accomplishment of his career is pulling off one biggest transfers in 2021, i.e. Ronaldo’s move from Juventus to Manchester United for a fee of £12.86 million. 

Curiously enough, Jorge Mendes, before becoming an agent, was working as a DJ. Meanwhile, he tried to make a career as a football player, but after being rejected by several Portuguese football clubs, he opened a bar and a nightclub. Who would have thought then that we would become the super-successful agent he is today? 

4. Mino Raiola

  • Sport: Football 
  • Net Worth: $50 million
  • Number of Clients: 77
  • Biggest Clients: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Mario Balotelli, Erling Haaland, Marco Verratti
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $84.7 million

The following professional on the list of sports agents is the Italy-born Mino Raiola, who runs the Mino Raiola agency. Called a super-agent, Raiola has made millions of dollars for himself and his clients. 

This powerful football figure has one of the most impressive client lists, which includes over 77 players such as Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, Italian Mario Balotelli, and iconic footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

With such a stunning portfolio, it is no surprise that he is responsible for closing the once biggest deal in football history—the $140 million-worth transfer of Pogba to Manchester United in 2016, which brought him $25 million in profit. 

During his career, this top sports agent has negotiated approximately $847 million in contracts with $84 million in agency commissions. Today, Mino Raiola has a net worth of an incredible $50 million. 

Just like his colleague Jorge Mendes, Raiola had an unsuccessful attempt at becoming a football player. Luckily, his entrepreneurship skills were recognised at an early age causing him to get a job at Sports Promotions, a world-renowned sports agency, and eventually starting his own business. 

As an international personality, Raiola is fluent in Italian, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, French and Dutch, which comes in handy when he is negotiating deals for players worldwide. 

5. Jeff Schwartz

  • Sport: Basketball 
  • Net Worth: $30 million
  • Number of Clients: 49
  • Biggest Clients: Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Kemba Walker, Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, Jamal Murray, Blake Griffin
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $64 million

The founder of Excel Sports Management, Jeff Schwartz, has taken the number one spot on the list of basketball agents for six consecutive years. 

Schwartz has been involved in almost all NBA deals, representing a wide range of players—from those on a minimum contract to some of the highest-paid basketball stars. In fact, his client roster holds names such as Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, New York Knicks’ Kemba Walker, and his biggest client, NBA superstar Blake Griffin. 

Currently, Schwartz represents 35 clients from the NBA, more than any other agent in the business. 

If that wasn’t impressive enough, Jeff Schwartz has a net worth of $30 million. He has concluded over $1.8 billion in contracts throughout his career, six of them worth more than $100 million. On top of that, he earns around $64 million in commissions.

Strangely enough, Jeff Schwartz wasn’t a basketball agent from the start. After he worked as a clerk for a federal judge, he took a position at IMG, where he represented tennis legends like Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis. Today, his company Excel Sports Management also works with football, baseball and golf stars, including golfing legend Tiger Woods. 

6. Casey Close

  • Sport: Baseball 
  • Net Worth: $1.2 billion (estimated)
  • Number of Clients: 36
  • Biggest Clients: Clayton Kershaw, Derrek Lee, Zack Greinke, Michael Cuddyer, Richie Sexson, Paul Goldschmidt, Walker Buehler
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $63.6 million

Former player turned sports manager Casey Close is one of the leading top baseball agents in the industry. 

Close started his career in the sports industry as a player for the Michigan Wolverines before turning to sports management.

And he started off big! His first steps as a sports agent were at the baseball division at IMG, where he managed one of the sport’s all-time favourites, Derek Jeter. He also worked at the Creative Artists Agency, after which he moved to Excel Sports Management. Currently, Casey Close is the agent in charge of the baseball division at this company. 

In addition to Derek Jeter, Close has a whole client list full of famous MLB names such as Cubs’ right fielder Jason Heyward, pitcher Clayton Kershaw, and Paul Goldschmidt of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Some of Close’s biggest contracts include the $189 million worth ten-year deal between the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter in 2000 (which was the second-richest contract in baseball history at the time) and the five-year contract extension for Ryan Howard with the Phillies, worth an amazing $125 million.

Still, his most profitable deal took place in 2012 when pitcher Zack Greinke signed for the Los Angeles Dodgers for a fee of $147 million over six years. 

At the moment, Close has more than 30 clients and an estimated $1.3 billion in contracts. 

Although he is one of the richest sports agents, his exact net worth remains a mystery (some unofficial sources put it close to $1.2 billion though). 

Casey Close is married to Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America and news presenter for The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson. Despite both spouses being in the public eye, Casey Close keeps his personal life private and away from social media.

7. Joel Wolfe

  • Sport: Baseball 
  • Net Worth: $33 million 
  • Number of Clients: 47
  • Biggest Clients: Yu Darvish, Giancarlo Stanton, Javier Baez, Marcus Semien, Nolan Arenado, Nick Senzel
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $52.4 million

On the sixth spot on the list of professional sport agents comes Joel Wolfe, EVP and Managing Executive of Baseball at the Wasserman Media Group.

According to Forbes, in 2020, Wolfe managed a total of 47 clients and sealed $1 billion in deals. So far, he’s earned $52 million in commissions.

Despite the many deals under his belt, Joel Wolfe is best known as the agent who arranged one of the biggest contracts of all time, i.e. the 13-year $325 million deal for Giancarlo Stanton with the Miami Marlins.

With this kind of record, it’s only natural that he is sought after among MLB players—his clients’ roster includes the likes of New York Mets player Javier Baez, third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder Nick Senzel.

Four years ago, i.e. the last time his net worth was recorded, it totalled $33 million, but it could be much higher today. 

Like his baseball colleagues from our list of sports agents, Wolfe started as a minor league baseball catcher. After a short experience with the Oakland Athletics, though, he moved on from player to one of the biggest sports agents in the world. 

8. David Mulugheta

  • Sport: American football 
  • Net Worth: $3 million+
  • Number of Clients: 42
  • Biggest Clients: Michael Thomas, Budda Baker, Deshaun Watson, Jalen Ramsay
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $46.7 million 

Mulugheta started as an intern at Athletes First, only to climb through the ranks and become President of the world-famous Team Sports. His career has moved forward very quickly indeed, as shown by the fact that he became the number one NFL agent in the world last year. 

His long list of successes includes Deshaun Watson’s quadrennial contract worth $156 million with the Houston Texans, followed by Jalen Ramsey’s five-year, $100 million deal with the LA Rams.

Mulugheta is proud to have worked with more than 40 clients, some of which are quarterback Deshaun Watson, Arizona Cardinals’ Budda Baker and wide receiver Michael Thomas.

Still, despite closing $1.6 billion in deals, David Mulugheta has a net worth of $3 million since the NFL commission out of every contract is no more than 3%.

In the NFL, 70% of players are black; nevertheless, there are only two black coaches, and most agents are white. So, as the son of Eritrean immigrants, Mulugheta certainly felt the stress and pressure of working as a black man in the National Football League. 

Back in his early managing days, there were even rumours that he wasn’t sealing his own deals, but with time he proved his integrity and also managed to increase the credibility of his black colleagues in the process.

9. Jay Z

  • Sport: MLB, NFL, NBA, football 
  • Net Worth: $1.4 billion
  • Number of Clients: 42
  • Biggest Clients: Robinson Canó, Yoenis Cespedes, Kyrie Irving, Lukaku, Axel Witsel
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $28.7 million

Jay-Z is a name that needs no introduction. However, many people might not know that this award-winning rapper and music producer is also one of the best-paid sports agents in the world.  

Jay-Z broke into the world of sports management in 2013 when he founded his sports agency Roc Nation Sports.  Even though the company’s first big client was New York Yankees All-Star second baseman Robinson Canó, Jay-Z and his sports agency have also collaborated with many famous names in the NBA, MLB and NFL. 

In 2015, Jay-Z and his agency transferred to soccer by signing Belgian Axel Witsel, who is currently playing for Borussia Dortmund. Since then, Jay-Z’s agency has closed many football deals, including the one with Lukaku in 2018, after that footballer split from Mino Raiola. 

As a Roc Nation sports agent, Jay-Z manages around 42 players of diverse sports, among them Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving and baseball outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, while Roc Nation Sports boasts a roster of over 100 players.

Jay-Z has an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion, making around $28.7 million in commission from his work as a sports agent. This self-made billionaire makes the Forbes richest people’s list every year thanks to his many lucrative businesses in the music industry and sports management, as well as his dealings in champagne and cognac.

10. Sam and Seth Levinson

  • Sport: Baseball 
  • Net Worth: $67 million
  • Number of Clients: 91 
  • Biggest Clients: Charlie Blackmon, Jon Lester, Brandon Philipps, David Wright, Dustin Pedroia
  • Sports Agents Commissions: $65 million

Brooklyn-based ACES, led by brothers Sam and Seth Levinson, is one of the most successful sports agencies. Ranked as the sixth biggest baseball agency in the world, ACES, short for Athletes’ Careers Enhanced and Secured, has been independently owned and operated for 30 years.

One of the reasons behind its success is the fact that the ACES sports agency offers services on and off the field, from free-agent contracts to draft bonuses, as well as pre-arbitration and arbitration deals. Another is that Sam and Seth Levinson manage to snatch clients early on in the season thanks to the brothers’ ability to read the market and offer players exactly what they need and want out of their contracts.  

ACES sports management has seen many prominent baseball names as ACES baseball agents have worked with more than 90 athletes. In fact, some of the most famous clients of the Levinsons include former third baseman David Wright and Rockies’ outfielder Charlie Blackmon (to name just a few). 

Listed among Levinsons’ top arrangements are:

  • The contract for Red Sox baseman Dustin Pedroia, worth $110 million over eight years, 
  • Charlie Blackmon’s three-year deal with the Rockies, worth $108 million, 
  • David Wright’s eight-year deal with the Mets, worth $138 million, and 
  • Jon Lester’s six-year contract with the Cubs, worth $155 million. 

Unsurprisingly, the Levinson brothers have collectively made $917 million out of contracts, taking an annual commission of around $65 million. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that many in the industry are amazed by their success. Even more impressive is the fact that they have done more individually than as a team!

Bottom Line 

We all admire athletes and their success, but little do we know about who is behind the curtains making all the important decisions on transfers, salaries and contract perks.

The job of the best sports agents is not all fun and games. It takes knowledge in public relations, business management, contract law and finances, as well as persuasive negotiation skills. And above all, it requires determination to succeed and seal the best deal possible.  

So, the next time you watch your favourite footballer score a goal or a baseball player hit a home run, don’t forget about the people who help make it happen.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I always had an appetite for learning new things and random facts about almost everything, which is why when I got offered the job to work as a content writer at Don't Disappoint Me I took it without hesitation. Writing on a daily basis took my love for words and research to a whole new level, and made me realize that this is a career I would love to pursue. Although I spend most of my time researching my next piece, you can also find me on the football court, in the gym, or at home with a book in my hand.

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