Jamison HensleyESPN staff writer3 minutes of reading
Owings Mills, MD — The The Lamar Jackson offseason saga took another unexpected turn with the distribution of a league-wide memo and the involvement of a fitness equipment business partner named Ken Francis.
On Thursday, the NFL sent a memo to all clubs trying to persuade team personnel to enter into contract negotiations with Jackson, who holds the non-exclusive rights tag of the Baltimore Ravens quarterback, a person not certified by the NFLPA.
According to league rules, teams can only talk to Jackson because he doesn’t have an agent.
According to a memo obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFLPA informed the league that Francis, who is not a certified agent with the players union, could contact teams regarding Jackson.
A memo distributed to all 32 teams read: “As a non-certified person, Mr. Francis is prohibited from negotiating offer sheets or player contracts or discussing potential trades on behalf of any NFL player or prospective player, or from providing assistance or advice in connection with such negotiations.”
Francis told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that he has not contacted teams on Jackson’s behalf.
“I don’t speak for Lamar,” Francis said.
Jackson Francis also denied contacting teams on his behalf. Tweeting: “Stop lying, that man never tried to negotiate for me.”
Francis said he was a business partner with Jackson in portable exercise equipment, and that was the extent of their business operations. He insisted that Jackson was handling his own football matters.
The memo reminded teams that an offer sheet can only be negotiated if he is acting on his own behalf, or with a certified agent.
“To be clear, Mr. Jackson is not currently represented by an NFLPA certified agent,” the memo said. “Breach of this provision may result in the non-acceptance of any offer sheet or player contract entered into by Mr. Jackson and the new club.”
NFL teams can be fined $47,000 if a club negotiates a contract with an agent or representative not vetted by the NFLPA.
This is the second time in seven months the league has had to address the matter. In August, the NFL’s governing body sent a memo to 32 teams about talking to a non-NFLPA-certified agent who contacted the clubs on behalf of linebacker Roquan Smith while he was with the Chicago Bears. Smith was traded to the Ravens last offseason and negotiated a five-year extension with Baltimore in January.
On March 7, the Ravens placed the non-exclusive tag on Jackson after 25 months of negotiations, unable to reach a new contract.
Under the non-exclusive tag, Jackson can negotiate with other teams. If he signs an offer sheet, Baltimore will have five days to match, or it will receive two first-round draft picks in compensation.
If there is no offer sheet, Jackson will earn $32.416 million under the tag.
A Ravens official told ESPN that Jackson has only been in talks with the team since he became eligible for a contract extension in 2021.