There has been a lot of commentary lately about the status of CFL players who wish to pursue potential NFL opportunities halfway through their first standard CFL contract (which spans a first year and a second year, which kicks in at the option of the team). I want to spell out where the CFL stands:
- Our rules and procedures are clear. Players are required to honour their contracts as they are registered with the league. In two recent cases that have garnered media attention, the Toronto Argonauts have honoured these rules and procedures as they should.
- Teams are not allowed to make side deals with players entering the league, either in unregistered written contracts or in verbal agreements, which promise a player he will be released upon request after one year or which bind him to subsequently return to the same CFL club should he not secure employment in the NFL. Recently, one of our teams announced they had released a player halfway through his first CFL contract so he can pursue NFL opportunities. The CFL has discerned this action was a product of such a side agreement and the team faces a heavy fine for not following our rules and procedures.
- Some people refer to an NFL window which would allow a player to leave after the first year of his first CFL contract. Such a window does not exist. It has not been in place or in practice since 2012, when it was phased out.
- We have the utmost respect for our players, their careers and their ambitions. Like any league, we also expect them to respect their contractual obligations as our teams will respect theirs.
- We remain open to change. I am currently on a listening tour of CFL cities, meeting with football operations for each team as well as fans in every market, looking for ideas that will make for the best game and our strongest league.
- It is too late in the calendar year to fairly amend this rule but if a better approach to this issue – or any issue, for that matter – is available, we will move forward with it. There are differing views on this issue within our league and I look forward to hearing all sides of the debate as well as from people with innovative new ideas.
As always, I thank our players for their tremendous efforts on and off the field, our fans for making all we do possible and the media for their continuing interest and storytelling.