Todd France Joining Athletes First Could Change Agency Game In NFL
Todd France’s addition to Athletes First’s roster of agents has the potential to boost the power and influence of the agency within NFL circles. France will work out of A1's Atlanta office and will bring his long time colleagues, Jennifer Thatcher and Julie Voelker, with him to the agency. France left CAA Sports, where he was a co-Head of CAA Football, on Aug. 7. He and CAA Sports mutually agreed on his departure after he worked there five years. France has repped or co-repped multiple first-round draft picks for 13 consecutive years, the longest current streak for any NFL agent. Athletes First, which reps more than 100 NFL players, led all agencies in representing the most first-round selections in this past April’s draft with eight. France met with multiple agencies before choosing Athletes First. Sources said that France was represented in the talks by Jonathan Amoona, an attorney at Winston & Strawn, where he works with powerful union and players rights attorney Jeffrey Kessler. Amoona declined to comment for this story.
UNCLEAR IF TOP STARS WILL FOLLOW: France reps dozens of NFLers, including Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Broncos S Justin Simmons and Steelers LB Bud Dupree. As is usually the case when agents switch agencies, it is not clear which players may follow France to Athletes First. However, the situation with France may be even more complicated. At CAA Sports, multiple agents are on the NFLPA's Standard Representation Agreement, or SRA, as it is known in the business. Although France worked with many of CAA Football's agents, he worked most closely with Brian Ayrault and Ben Renzin. Ayrault left CAA Sports on Aug. 20 to join WME Sports. Renzin also recently left CAA Sports, though it is unclear when he left or where he might be headed.
ONE PLAYER CHANGING AGENTS: When an NFL player wants to change agents on an SRA, he must terminate all the agents and re-sign a new SRA with the agent or agents he wants to represent him. This scenario has played out multiple times in the past when an agent who has left one big firm and joined another. In the case of France, Ayrault and Renzin, the first major player who is known to have started this process is Bears LB Roquan Smith. In the last week, Smith fired Ayrault, Renzin and France and has not signed with a new agent. The NFLPA has a five-day rule, in which a player cannot sign with another agent for five days. That five days, in Smith's case, ends today. There are multiple other star players, including Bengals QB Joe Burrow and Patriots RB Sony Michel, who list representation by France, Renzin and Ayrault on their SRAs. The process of the players choosing agents to represent them will likely take weeks, if not months, to settle, especially as the season is underway. And agents from other agencies will, no doubt, try to sign the players, as has happened in the past in similar situations.