New NFL memo reminds teams to negotiate only with players, if they aren’t represented by an NFLPA-licensed agent

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The memo sent Monday by the NFL to all teams reminds them not to engage in discussions with players under contract with other teams, or their representatives. That’s only part of the story.

The other subject addressed by the memo entails a thornier problem for the league, its teams, and the NFL Players Association.

The memo, a copy of which the league forwarded to PFT, also advises teams that, when a player opts not to have a contract advisor certified by the NFLPA, the team may negotiate only with the player, and no one else.

“The NFLPA has informed us that a person by the name of Saint Omni, who is not an NFLPA certified agent, is contacting Clubs and indicating that he is representing Roquan Smith, who is under contract to the Chicago Bears,” the memo begins.

PFT heard last late week that Saint Omni had contacted multiple teams on behalf of Smith. PFT contacted Omni via text on Saturday night regarding this matter, but he did not respond.

“Mr. Omni is prohibited from negotiating 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,” the memo continues.

“Clubs are reminded that, under Article 48 of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, Player Contracts may only be negotiated with the player, if he is acting on his own behalf, or with the player’s NFLPA certified agent,” the memo explains.

The problem is that teams don’t instantly know who is and isn’t an NFLPA-certified agent. (The memo points them to a list of all certified agent on the Management Council website.) When a player decides not to have an agent, there should be a mechanism for ensuring that every team is aware of this development, so that any team will know not to negotiate with anyone but the player.

It definitely occurs. And Roquan Smith isn’t the first NFL player Omni has assisted. Last year’s Complex.com profile of Texans tackle Laremy Tunsil includes quotes from Omni, identifying him as the “director of football at LifeLine Financial Group who helped Tunsil during his extension negotiations” with the team.

Tunsil is not represented by an NFLPA-certified agent. Per the CBA, teams can’t negotiate with Omni or anyone else on Tunsil’s behalf.

We’ve heard that some teams have become suspicious that email accounts supposedly belonging to the player are actually maintained by an agent who has not been properly certified by the union, with the agent posing as the player during the email communications.

Ultimately, what can teams do? They just want to get deals done. The Bears, for example, hope to work out an acceptable contract with Smith. Sounding an alarm to the league or the union about Saint Omni or anyone else helping Smith won’t help reach that goal.

It’s still not clear who can or will enforce this rule, which arises solely under the CBA. Could the league discipline a player who chooses to represent himself but who utilizes the services of a non-certified agent? Would the NFLPA take action against a member of the union? What can the union even do about this?

The best, and only, answer could arise from targeting individuals who are providing such services, securing a court order that shuts them down, as state bar associations can do when an unlicensed person is providing legal advice. Would the NFLPA ever do that? Could the league do it? It can become a game of courtroom Whac-A-Mole, with the league, the union, or both chasing around anyone who chooses to provide such services to players without certification — and then seeking sanctions if/when a court order is violated.

Bottom line? The rule is easy to understand. It’s basically impossible to enforce. It remains to be seen whether, as to Saint Omni, the alert provided to teams is the end, or the beginning.

2 responses to “New NFL memo reminds teams to negotiate only with players, if they aren’t represented by an NFLPA-licensed agent

  1. “The NFLPA has informed us that a person by the name of Spencer Strasmore, who is not an NFLPA certified agent, is contacting Clubs and indicating that he is representing Ricky Jerret, who is under contract to the Miami Dolphins,”

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