Many wins for players in CFL’s new CBA
REGINA — If the football gods are real, and let’s assume for a moment they are, then this will hopefully be the last time, at least for some time, that we’ll have to talk about the CFL and a new collective bargaining agreement.
That’s right, despite the first work stoppage since 1974 and the real threat of a second player strike, the CFL and CFL Players’ Association managed to hash out a new CBA. The new agreement is a seven-year pact, which will run through the 2028 season and is effective immediately.
The new CBA was ratified by the players late last week and then by the league’s board of governors this week, making it officially official. With no more hurdles to clear, we can begin to move forward as the pre-season wraps up this weekend and the regular season kicks off June 9 with a game between the Montreal Alouettes and Calgary Stampeders.
With that, let’s dive into the latest edition of CFL Rundown, a weekly column that looks back at the week that was in the three-down loop, with news, notes and analysis of all things CFL.
1. Some of the highlights of the deal include a growth in salary cap, with an increase from $5.35 million this season to $5.51 million in 2023. The increases fluctuate from year to year — thanks to the players getting a $1.25-million ratification bonus — with the cap maxing out at $5.99 million in 2028.
2. Minimum salaries for Canadian and Global players now align with one another, with the rate for this season being $65,000. That number jumps to $70,000 next season, with another bump to $75,000 in 2027. Prior to this, the most a global player could make was $54,000 per year — more than $10,000 less than the league minimum for everyone else. It’s the reason why former Blue Bombers linebacker Thiadric Hansen decided to stay home in Europe rather than playing a third season in the CFL.
3. Another big get for the players is a revenue-sharing plan with the league, which apparently includes all revenue, meaning from the Grey Cup, too. The CFLPA will have its own designate to audit the league’s finances.
4. Another unprecedented win for the players is they can now negotiate guaranteed contracts. There are limits: the player has to sign a subsequent contract with their original club, with the new deal required to be at least two years, with the maximum guarantee being 50 per cent of the base salary in the final year of the new contract.
5. Despite a decrease in injuries by nearly 35 per cent, the players have agreed to return to padded practices, though on a limited basis. Teams now have the chance to hold one padded practice per week, for up to 12 weeks, lasting just 45 minutes each session. This was a big get for the league’s coaches, many of whom believe it’s harder to develope offensive and defensive linemen without the ability to be more physical in practice. In return, the players jump from three to four years of long-term medical coverage beginning this season, with that number rising to five years in 2023.
6. The Canadian ratio was by far the most contentious issue of all between the two sides. The league wanted more roster flexibility by being able to play more Americans, while the CFLPA did all it could to protect Canadian jobs. In the end, the league will keep seven Canadian starters — and 21 total Canadians on the roster — but will add an eighth that can be a “nationalized” American, beginning in 2023.
7. A “nationalized” American is a player who has played for the same team for three consecutive years or has been in the league for five. Additionally, two more “nationalized” Americans can rotate with two Canadian starters for up to 49 per cent of snaps in a game. While it’s a bit confusing, the good news is we have enough time before next season to figure out how the league plans to track this data.
8. It’s every team’s worst nightmare to lose a key player in training camp or during the pre-season, and unfortunately there’s been a few already across the league. Ottawa defensive end Kwaku Boateng ruptured his Achilles, and I’m hearing the same thing about Bombers defensive back Mercy Maston. Hamilton receiver Lemar Durant was also added to the six-game injured list with an undisclosed ailment, while Saskatchewan’s Canadian linebacker Micah Teitz is also expected to miss significant time.
9. There was another notable injury, this one to B.C. Lions quarterback Kevin Thomson. Thomson was impressing in camp and was said to have been the leading candidate to be the backup behind starter Nathan Rourke. What’s worse, the injury occurred late in Saturday’s pre-season game in Calgary, where he was crushed on a free blitz from Stampeders defensive back Titus Wall. Adding insult to literal injury was the fact Thomson attempted to make a play before getting hit, resulting in an interception and touchdown the other way.
10. The Lions acted quickly to find a replacement, signing free agent Antonio Pipkin on Tuesday. In a somewhat surprising move, Pipkin was released by the Toronto Argonauts two days earlier. His release was the result of being outplayed by rookie Chad Kelly, who has been given the No. 2 job behind McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
11. Bad news for anyone hoping Chris Streveler might make a return to the CFL in the near future. Streveler was released by the Miami Dolphins on May 18, which inevitably created buzz that he might make a return to the three-down game. Despite some calls from more than a few CFL teams, Streveler is still getting interest from other NFL clubs and won’t be coming north anytime soon.
12. There was a bizarre, physical altercation last week between Stampeders receiver Brendan Langley and a United Airlines employee that turned bloody and resulted in Langley getting charged with simple assault and indefinitely suspended by Calgary. It’s a tough video to watch, but it appears Langley was struck first by the airline employee, only to end it with a flurry of punches.
13. I reported last week that Bombers receiver Jalen Saunders was released by Winnipeg after the team was made aware of allegations that Saunders had sexually assaulted a young woman during a night out partying. I commend the young woman for her courage to come forward, in order to prevent something happening to someone else in the future. There’s always a risk inviting players into the community, with most embracing their new surroundings, Saunders being the exception.
14. The CFL has partnered with streaming service, Visaic, to provide fans with an alternative to traditional cable packages, beginning this season. The service will be available in more than 130 countries, with single-game and multi-game options to purchase. The “ultimate package,” which inludes access to 85 regular-season and post-season games, as well as the Grey Cup on Nov. 20, runs for $99.99. Other options include a regular-season pass ($79.99), team pass ($29.99) or game pass ($4.99), with a playoff package ($6.99) and Grey Cup package ($7.99) also available.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.
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