Chris Jones expects LB Kevin Francis to be with Elks in 2023 despite request for trade or release

Photo: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

Edmonton Elks’ head coach and general manager Chris Jones expects Canadian linebacker Kevin Francis to be with the team in 2023 despite his public request to be traded or released.

The 29-year-old made his demand on social media on March 15, tweeting that he had been “ignored about [his] money.” He previously posted about “disrespect” by the Elks organization and urged players to “read contracts thoroughly.”

“Kevin’s got his things going on and we’ve got a policy with our organization. Our president and CFO have come with a new policy and that’s their prerogative. They’re above my pay grade,” Jones said in an interview with 3DownNation.

“Kevin and his agent, they signed the contract and we fully expect Kevin to be in camp. Again, we want Kevin, we want Kevin with our group. I’ve known him since he was at North Carolina A&T and worked him out in my hometown, so I’ve known Kevin a long time, and I hope that we can get all this worked out.”

Francis signed a one-year contract with the Elks in free agency worth $122,000 in hard money. That deal included a $25,000 signing bonus, but the linebacker has been vocally unsatisfied with how the financial compensation has been handled.

Jones would not provide details as to the exact nature of the dispute but said that discussions had taken place between him and Francis.

“We’ve talked to him twice since. I’m not gonna sit there and just rehash and rehash, but hopefully over the next little bit we can get all that resolved and put behind us,” he said.

Francis dressed for 18 regular season games with the B.C. Lions in 2022, leading the CFL with 22 special teams tackles. The six-foot-six, 239-pound defender has played 82 career games as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ottawa Redblacks, and Lions, recording 18 defensive tackles and 61 special teams tackles.

The Toronto native played tight end during his four-year college career at North Carolina A&T where he made 17 receptions for 163 yards. He was a third-round supplemental draft choice of the Riders back in 2016 when Jones was the team’s head coach and general manager.

“I’ve known Kevin since he was in college, switched him to defence and allowed him to develop his game in Saskatchewan,” Jones said. “We’re hoping to have him in our uniform this year, and he’ll make us a better football team.”

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.