OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Lamar Jackson offseason saga took another unexpected turn with the distribution of a league-wide memo and the involvement of a business partner on fitness equipment named Ken Francis.
On Thursday, the NFL sent out a memo to all clubs notifying them that a person not certified by he NFLPA might be attempting to persuade team personnel to enter into contract negotiations with Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback who received the nonexclusive franchise tag.
Under league rules, teams can speak only with Jackson because he doesn't have an agent.
According to the memo obtained by ESPN's Adam Schefter, the NFLPA informed the league that Francis, who is not a certified agent with the players' union, might be contacting teams regarding Jackson.
The memo, which was distributed to all 32 teams, read: "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."
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 also denied that Francis has been contacting teams on his behalf, tweeting: "Stop Lying that man never tried to negotiate for me."
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.
The memo reminded teams that an offer sheet may be negotiated only with the player, 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 read. "Violation of this rule may result in disapproval of any Offer Sheet or resulting Player Contract entered into by Mr. Jackson and the new Club."
The NFL can fine teams $47,000 if a club negotiates a contract with an agent or representative not verified by the NFLPA.
This is the second time in seven months that the league has had to address this matter. In August, the NFL management council sent a memo to the 32 teams about speaking with a non-NFLPA-certified agent who had been contacting clubs on behalf of linebacker Roquan Smith when he was with the Chicago Bears. Smith was traded to the Ravens last season and negotiated a five-year extension with Baltimore in January.
On March 7, the Ravens placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Jackson after the sides were unable to reach a new deal after 25 months of negotiations.
Under the nonexclusive 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 as compensation.
If there is no offer sheet, Jackson would earn $32.416 million under the tag.
A Ravens official told ESPN the team has only negotiated with Jackson since he became eligible for a contract extension in 2021.