A little more than one week into the NFL free agency period, Lamar Jackson remains one of the biggest names on the market.
He is still supposedly representing himself without the services of an agent, but the waters became a bit muddy on Thursday.
That’s because in a strange and unusual memo released to all 32 teams, the NFL warned of a person named Ken Francis who has been contacting front offices about entering negotiations with Jackson.
Here is a copy of the memo that all teams received a short time ago: pic.twitter.com/54vA6Qzb2G
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 23, 2023
“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,” the memo read.
It was initially unclear whether Ken Francis was in contact with Jackson, or even knew him at all.
There were rumors on Wednesday of an “unauthorized representative” informing teams that Jackson was willing to leave the Ravens for the right price. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said the discussions were held “in an effort to spark negotiations aimed at a possible offer sheet.”
MORE: ‘Unauthorized representative’ tells teams Lamar Jackson could be ready to move on from Ravens
The league warned that any deals struck with Francis would not be approved, and therefore wouldn’t be official.
“Clubs are reminded that, under Article 48 of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, an Offer Sheet, which may result in an NFL Player Contract, may only be negotiated with the player, if he is acting on his own behalf,” the memo continued. “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 memo also made it clear that Jackson isn’t currently represented by an agent, so the only person that can negotiate any deals with other teams is him.
As the plot thickened, it turned out Jackson did know the man named in the memo. The situation was made even more confusing when Lamar Jackson responded to Tom Pelissero on Twitter, who reported Francis was “a Florida man who most recently was pitching a home fitness invention.”
Stop Lying that man never tried to negotiate for me 🤣🤣 https://t.co/DIMXtxOAnR
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) March 23, 2023
So, who is Ken Francis? The Sporting News dives in:
Who is Ken Francis?
The details on Francis are a little sparse at the moment.
From his LinkedIn profile, Francis attended Daytona State University in Florida.
But as it turns out, he’s also Lamar Jackson’s business partner. Whether the timing is coincidental or not, within an hour of the memo being leaked, Jackson tweeted a promotional video for The Entire Gym, which Jackson was featured in.
My business partner Ken and I will be Dropping the @TheEntireGym this Summer 🚀🚀🚀❤️ #STAYTUNED #TRUZZ pic.twitter.com/7ZkkUKa5qk
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) March 23, 2023
It is safe to assume at this point that ‘my business partner Ken’ is Ken Francis.
Francis is the owner of The Entire Gym, which claims to have developed ‘a revolutionary fitness product that is compact and portable. With its innovative designed for comfort and durability, The Entire Gym is easy to use and convenient for storage anywhere.’
But when reached by ESPN, Francis said, “I don’t speak for Lamar.”
The layers to this onion will certainly continue to peel back, but for now, Lamar Jackson continues to represent himself, Ken Francis is his business partner and the NFL is suspicious of it all.
Saint Omni vs. Ken Francis
The latest news involving the mysterious Ken Francis had many people drawing the parallels between Lamar Jackson’s now revealed ‘business partner’ and Saint Omni, who was at the center of the Roquon Smith drama.
Roquan Smith requested a trade away from the Bears on Aug. 9, 2022. Just a week later, he became the subject of further controversy.
On Monday, August 15, the Smith saga took a strange turn, as ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio reported that someone representing Smith was “calling other teams in order to gauge potential trade interest.”
Equally to the Ken Francis story, the NFL notified in a memo to its 32 teams that Saint Omni was the person contacting them about Smith and explained that he was not certified by the NFLPA to do that.
Saint Omni was listed as the director of football at LifeLine Financial Group in a 2021 Complex article about Laremy Tunsil. The article had a publish date of Nov. 4, 2021 and stated that Omni had “helped Tunsil during his extension negotiations.”
That lines up with what his Facebook page said about him. Omni listed himself as a “business consultant and manager for high profile NFL Athletes and celebrities” on his personal page, according to USA Today.
However, Omni’s page had not been updated for two years at the time USA Today accessed it; it has since been deleted.
LifeLine Financial Group describes itself as “wealth management for athletes, entertainers and world influencers” on its LinkedIn page. Strangely, LifeLine Financial Group’s website leads only to a logo of the company superimposed over a photo of a man writing something with a child on either side of him.
There is no public record of Omni among LifeLine’s listed employees on LinkedIn.
So, while Omni may be mysterious, he appears to be a part of the NFL world — though it remains unclear whether he is a certified agent or an advisor of some sort.
Jacob Camenker and Peter Socotch contributed to this story