Gotta admit, the above isn’t a headline I expected to be writing today. As if the Lamar Jackson contract situation didn’t have enough twists and turns, the NFL sent out a Thursday memo warning teams to stay away from a Florida man who goes by the name Ken Francis and has been trying to negotiate Jackson’s contract and contact other teams.
As reported by all the big NFL media-types, including ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the league sent out the following memo.
In part, the league’s statement reads:
“The NFLPA has informed us that a person by the name of Ken Francis, who is not an NFLPA certified agent, may be contacting Clubs and attempting to persuade Club personnel to enter into negotiations with or concerning Lamar Jackson…Mr. Francis is prohibited from negotiating Offer Sheets or Player Contracts.”
How’s that for a “Florida Man” story?
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero offered more details though it only adds another layer of “huh?” to the situation.
NFL players are only allowed to be represented by certified agents, though there seems to be some gray area here. Such is the case with Houston Texans OT Laremy Tunsil, advised by the mysterious Saint Omni, who also helped LB Roquan Smith hammer out his long-term deal with the Ravens, and whom the league has advised teams not to talk to. Still, Omni has had a hand in getting some of these mega-money deals done.
Details aren’t clear but if the NFLPA is passing this along to the NFL, then perhaps this is a random third-party who Jackson isn’t even working with. Jackson, who does not have an agent, reportedly is working with the union to receive counsel and navigate his franchise tag/offer sheet/contract situation. Still, it’s possible Francis is coordinating with Jackson and the union and league is stepping in to stop his help.
Jackson was hit with the non-exclusive franchise tag on March 7th. It allows the other 31 teams to submit offer sheets in an attempt to sign him away. Baltimore will have the opportunity to match any offer but if they don’t, they would receive a pair of first round picks as compensation. No teams have submitted an offer sheet on Jackson and there has been little reporting that teams have interest. Several teams reportedly aren’t interested in Jackson, though the Indianapolis Colts may have some level of interest.
This is just another addition to a pretty wild situation. Jackson remaining in Baltimore is the most likely scenario though reaching that point is likely to drag well into the summer.
UPDATE (6:34): Francis has responded to the ESPN story, denying he’s involved in negotiating a long-term deal with Jackson and the NFL. From ESPN:
“Francis said he’s business partners with Jackson on portable gym equipment and that’s the extent of their business dealings. He stressed that Jackson handles his own football matters, though he has people in his circle that he might consult.”
Jackson has tweeted a response, accusing the NFL of lying.