Remember the stories about the Cowboys negotiating directly with players? They’ve also negotiated with at least one third person who wasn’t certified by the NFL Players Association to negotiate player contracts.
In the aftermath of the signing of running back Ezekiel Elliott to a long-term contract, owner Jerry Jones made the media rounds. He was asked at one point about the NFL’s new deal with Jay-Z. And here’s what Jones blurted out: “I negotiated personally with Jay-Z on Dez Bryant’s contract. And we actually were in the 21 Club, and we started about 12 midnight and finished about five in the morning and we negotiated down in the wine cellar Dez Bryant‘s contract.”
Although the labor deal doesn’t clearly and expressly prohibit direct negotiations with players who are represented by an NFLPA-certified agent (a clear and express prohibition arguably isn’t needed), the Collective Bargaining Agreement plainly and unequivocally prohibits negotiation with persons who aren’t certified by the NFLPA.
“Clubs are prohibited from engaging in individual contract negotiations with any agent who is not listed by the NFLPA as being duly certified by the NFLPA in accordance with its role as exclusive bargaining agent for NFL players,” the CBA states at Article 48, Section 1.
The NFLPA looked into the issue of the Cowboys talking directly to players, but nothing ever came of it publicly. In this case, the NFLPA has two separate issues to confront: The Cowboys’ decision to directly negotiate with someone other than an NFLPA-certified agent, and Jay-Z’s decision to get directly involved in contract negotiations without NFLPA certification.