Jerry Jones’s comments on Dallas radio suggest that he prefers to deal with players directly when negotiating contracts. However, this practice of circumventing agents during contract talks may be in direct violation of the CBA as well as federal labor laws.
When Jerry Jones speaks to the press, the whole world listens – and waits for him to put his foot in his mouth. Whether it’s the “I want me some glory hole” comment regarding the Cowboys’ 4-12 season in 2015 or “I’m looking up, on my back, and all I see is ass. I want a different perspective” comment regarding the frustrating 2015-2016 season, Jerry never fails to provide us with an entertaining Jerry-ism. However, recently, his comments to Dallas radio were less comical and more self-incriminating.
With tense contract negotiations surrounding new deals for Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, Dallas radio questioned Jones about the process. Jones suggested that he would much rather deal with players directly, stating:
“Of course, you eliminate…that’s always been the issue with me and my approach to managing the Cowboys. When you cut out people in between the money and the player, we all know that agents, attorneys all have an agenda . . . by the way, they are all taking money out of the pie too when they’re there. The straighter it goes from the source to the one receiving it, nine times out of ten, that’s efficient.”
This comment, made on 105.3, TheFan, highlights Jones’s desire to circumvent agents during contract talks.
It wasn’t long before stories of Jones’s contract negotiation techniques began surfacing. The most notable of these stories is that of Dez Bryant, who confirmed a story on Twitter Wednesday night. He confirmed an event where Jones called him to meet at the stadium. While sitting in the suite overlooking the field, Jones purportedly attempted to discuss Dez’s upcoming contract directly with Dez, outside the presence of his agent.
Jones’s desire to circumvent players’ agents and lawyers during contract talks could violate both the Collective Bargaining Agreement as well as federal labor laws. Article 48, Section 1, of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement provides, in part:
“The NFL and the Clubs recognize that, pursuant to federal labor law, the NFLPA will regulate the conduct of agents who represent players in individual contract negotiations with Clubs . . . [T]he Commissioner shall disapprove any NFL Player Contract(s) between a player and a Club unless such player: (a) is represented in the negotiations with respect to such NFL Player Contract(s) by an agent or representative duly certified by the NFLPA in accordance with the NFLPA agent regulation system and authorized to represent him; or (b) acts on his own behalf in negotiating such NFL Player Contract(s) . . . “
At the moment, Jones’s comments have raised the eyebrows of the NFLPA, but have not resulted in any type of formal investigation. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk states, “the NFL Players Association views the situation as ‘not good,’ and currently is doing its due diligence before taking any official action and/or issuing any formal statement.”
This blatant disrespect for the agents who do far more than merely negotiate contracts for players will most likely result in further push back from players and agents alike at the next CBA negotiations in 2021. Until then, we can only hope that the NFLPA seriously investigates what seems to be Jones’s notorious practice of doing whatever it takes to get the deal done.
Jerry Jones isn’t one to shy away from the opportunity to break new ground (we all remember his take on the national anthem demonstrations as well as his very public feud with Goodell over Elliott’s suspension in 2017) but maybe this time he has gone too far. Attempting to subvert agents, but more importantly, the NFLPA, may cause more trouble than it is worth.
3L at University at Buffalo School of Law. If I am not in class or studying, I am outdoors with my beloved pit bull pups or cheering on the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Pistons with my husband.