If you’re looking for a bad guy in the Dak Prescott-broken ankle scenario, start with Dak’s agent, not Jerry Jones.
Todd France is Dak’s agent. France is one of the most powerful agents in football. He rivals Drew Rosenhaus, Jimmy Sexton, Joel Segal and Jared Fox at the top of the football agent food chain.
Along with Prescott, France represents, among others, Aaron Donald, Fletcher Cox and Bud Dupree, a trio of big-time defensive linemen.
I met France nearly 20 years ago, when he sweet-talked running back Priest Holmes into ditching the startup agent — James Bowie — who helped Holmes get into the NFL as an undrafted free agent and negotiated Holmes’ lucrative relocation to Kansas City.
As agents are prone to do, France built his reputation and career on the back of another man’s sweat. Holmes was France’s first big-time client. France did an excellent job of bilking then-Chiefs general manager/president Carl Peterson out of more and more money for Holmes. France’s magnum opus was renegotiating a sweetheart golden parachute for his star running back after Holmes skipped the 2006 season with a major hip injury. The Chiefs had already moved on to Penn State’s Larry Johnson as their featured back.
Todd France is an excellent agent. Two decades ago, I briefly entertained the idea of France representing me. I’m not surprised he’s moved to the top of the NFL. He’s ambitious, conniving and appropriately skilled at manipulating the sports media.
France is a high-class version of Drew Rosenhaus, the loud-mouthed, in-your-face Florida-based agent who controls key members of the football media with nuggets of information.
There’s a reason you almost never hear anyone in the sports media criticize Rosenhaus or France or any of the other agents who control a large number of players. Rosenhaus and France would cut off that media member’s access to information and interviews.
That’s why when Dak Prescott broke his ankle on Sunday, jeopardizing his shot at a long-term, mega contract with the Cowboys, the sports media immediately turned to vilifying Jerry Jones and demanding that Jones “do right” by Dak.
No one blamed Todd France for putting Dak in this position.
According to Cowboys experts, Jones has repeatedly offered Dak a five-year deal worth more than $150 million with $100 million in guarantees.
Todd France has repeatedly advised Dak that he could get the Cowboys to pay more. France counseled Dak to accept a one-year, franchise-tag contract worth $32 million this season. France pushed Dak’s chips into the middle of the table.
Was this in Dak’s best interest or France’s?
Let’s take a look.
France is closer to being the NFL’s best and most powerful agent than Dak is to being the NFL’s best and most powerful quarterback. In the past two decades, France has climbed from building his own mom-and-pop agency, FAME, to merging with another upcoming agent, Brian Ayrault, to build Five Star Athlete Management to being acquired by Creative Artists Agency.
At CAA, France represented as many as 60 NFL players. Rosenhaus represents about 90. Jimmy Sexton reps around 70. These are the only guys ahead of France.
Over the past year, France plotted and executed his next move up the ladder. He auctioned himself off to Athletes First, a much smaller company than CAA but a place where he could get some equity and control.
I respect and recognize the hustle. It’s not much different than my own move from FOX Sports 1 to OutKick. Big fish would rather swim in their own lake than an ocean.
France has used Dak to increase the value of Todd France.
In order to supplant Rosenhaus and Sexton, France needed to be a major player in the QB market. Getting Dak a monster deal, a deal that exceeded his actual value to the Cowboys, was more important to France than Prescott. France was using Dak as a lure to attract other quarterbacks and prospects.
Jerry Jones offered Dak a deal that was more than fair. Prescott ranks somewhere between 8th and 15th in my ranking of QB value. He’s not on the same planet as Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson.
Dak and France signed up for a dangerous poker game this season. A catastrophic, season-ending injury could potentially cost Dak millions of dollars. If Andy Dalton plays well while filling in for Prescott, Dak and France may have to accept a below-market deal from the Cowboys or try to hunt down a suitor willing to overpay for Dak.
That’s not Jerry Jones’ fault. That’s on Todd France.
I can say that because I don’t need France’s information or access to his athletes. I have no animus toward France. He’s an excellent agent who took an unnecessary risk with Dak’s career to benefit Todd France.
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