The Lamar Jackson saga has taken another bizarre twist.
The NFL on Thursday sent a memo to all 32 teams instructing them not to negotiate with a person who is not certified by the NFL Players Association and may be contacting teams on behalf of the Ravens’ quarterback, a source with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Baltimore Sun. The identity of that person has been revealed to be Ken Francis, Jackson’s business partner.
According to the league’s collective bargaining agreement guidelines, teams can only speak with Jackson because he does not have an agent. The star quarterback received the $32.4 million nonexclusive franchise tag earlier this month, which keeps him off the free agent market but allows him to pursue a contract with another team.
Francis is a Florida man who most recently was pitching a home fitness invention, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Jackson, who is from South Florida and lives there in the offseason, denied the report shortly after the news broke.
“Stop lying that man never tried to negotiate for me,” Jackson tweeted early Thursday evening.
Francis told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that he has not contacted teams on Jackson’s behalf. “I don’t speak for Lamar,” said Francis, who added that he’s a business partner of Jackson’s on portable gym equipment.
Jackson later tweeted that he and “my business partner Ken” will be unveiling their product, The Entire Gym, this summer.
Meanwhile, the memo made clear the ramifications of the situation.
“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, who is currently under a Nonexclusive Franchise Tender with the Baltimore Ravens,” the memo says. “As an uncertified 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 assisting in or advising with respect to such negotiations.”
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The memo also states that violation of the rule may result in any offer sheet or resulting contract entered into by Jackson and the new team being disapproved. Teams can also be fined $47,000 if they negotiate a contract with an agent or representative not verified by the NFLPA.
In the memo, the NFL stated that “to be clear, Mr. Jackson is not currently represented by an NFLPA certified agent.” Jackson’s mother, Felicia Jones, is his de facto manager.
Jackson, the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player, has been negotiating a contract for more than two years with the Ravens. He received $23 million last season playing under the fifth-year option, which the Ravens exercised in April 2021 after drafting the former Louisville star at the end of the first round in 2018.
Under terms of the nonexclusive franchise tag, the Ravens would receive two first-round draft picks — one each in 2023 and 2024 — if they choose not to match an offer sheet Jackson signs with another team. The Ravens would have five days to match.