SEATTLE — Pacing the sidewalks of his Laurelhurst neighborhood in Seattle, Collin Roberts juggled calls from a half-dozen teams in the first hour of NFL free agency on the morning of March 14. They all called about Will Dissly, Roberts' client who, it was quickly becoming apparent, was one of the most coveted tight ends on the free-agent market.
Dissly, meanwhile, was doing his best just to maintain a steady breath.
He woke up that day in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and began to work through meditation techniques, a morning ritual interrupted by frequent calls and text messages from Roberts. Eventually, as he tried to calm his nerves, Dissly decided to go outside and, like his agent, started pacing around the block.
Dissly didn't know what to expect that morning. For months, he and Roberts had been planning for various scenarios as he ventured into free agency for the first time: What was important to him? Where he might want to go? How did he value himself?
Bracing for the possibility that he might not be a "priority" free agent, Dissly figured he wouldn't get a new deal done until later in the week, after teams first signed their top-tier targets.
He hadn't allowed himself to daydream about the possibility of what actually happened next: a frantic two hours of negotiations between Roberts and the Seahawks that kept Dissly in Seattle — and away from his old quarterback, Russell Wilson, in Denver.
By noon that Wednesday, the parameters were in place for a three-year, $24 million contract, a deal that one ESPN reporter called the most shocking free agent signing of the NFL offseason.
Even Dissly was pleasantly surprised at how well things played out for him that morning. "Life-changing," he described the new contract.
But as free agency formally kicked off at 9 a.m. that morning, Dissly had little idea of what the next few hours would hold. Then came the text from his agent around 10 o'clock:
"Buckle up," Roberts wrote. "This is going down today."