CFL and the NFL lockout

“They would probably frown on that, but right now I am free and clear to do as I please,’’ said Babin, who was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time last season. “I could play in the Canadian Football League if I wanted to.?

Oh yeah, that’s the other thing. Babin is entertaining thoughts of jumping to the CFL or the United Football League if those leagues can build some momentum during the lockout. Both leagues have extended “feelers? to him and other free agents, Babin said.

“I know those leagues would love to grow their awareness and if they got a certain amount of high-profile guys to join in, the money would go from the NFL pool to the CFL or UFL pool and maybe they could negotiate a TV deal,? Babin said. “Now that would scare the (stuffing) out of the NFL owners if they could pull something like that off, you know?
Meanwhile, teams from the Canadian Football League have been putting out feelers to NFL players' agents. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, among other teams, would welcome any locked-out NFL players who need to keep their incomes flowing. With the federal mediator requesting a media blackout, we haven't heard much from ownership lately, but do the Canucks know something we don't?
Though it was not an official agenda item at last weekend's CFL evaluation camp in Toronto, the talk among some in attendance was a possible move toward restoring the option-year clause.
There's still a while before CFL camps open, lots of time to make any rule changes. Its been discussed in other forums that guys like Babin jumping ship is highly unlikely. My question to posters is not about what's likely to happen but what do you think should happen. Pretend you're commish Mark Cohon. What would you handle things?
  1. Do nothing. You have a brand new CBA in place which you just negotiated. Teams would be required to respect NFL contracts as if they were in effect. Teams could sign NFL FAs if they like to the minimum 2 year plus option deal with no allowance to let players out of their contracts early to return to the NFL once the lockout is over. Do you just bank on getting a decent TV deal regardless of the presence of any NFL player on the roster since American Networks will be looking to fill their NFL time slots and feed the American appetite for football.

  2. Try to capitalize on the lockout and increase your brand name and recognition. Certainly a league like the UFL which is swimming in debt and begging for exposure while on its last legs is probably licking its chops trying to find a way to attract some NFL names to their product to increase their exposure and improve their TV deal. Like Babin suggests, if the league went ahead and signed a couple of NFL players per team they might be able to get a better US TV deal for the upcoming season and improve their exposure in the US market. That TV money could be subdivided per team to pay for the players contracts and could have further dividends down the road. The problem here is that the league would pretty much have to assure any NFL player that signs a CFL deal that they will have the ability to return to the NFL once a new CBA is in place, which theoretically can happen midseason. How would those contracts fit under the cap? And how would such moves affect the overall roster? As was apparently discussed informally at the ecamp - do you allow teams to sign guys to the old one yr plus option? Do you maybe create a roster exception for a couple guys per team?

  3. Other

...think that maybe some CFL GMs and some NFL agents are burning up the long distance lines?....this has serious implications to current CFL rosters....i love the way Babin gives the CFL higher billing in the article than the UFL...

[i]There's an interesting potential twist to the current end of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, which is this: If players want to play for another league, there doesn't seem to be anything stopping them from a legal or contractual standpoint. If the UFL or CFL hit up Randy Moss, Aubrayo Franklin or Bruce Gradkowski, and asked them to take salaries in the low six figures to play some sort of football with a network deal that would get their efforts telecast in most American homes, there doesn't seem to be anything the NFL could do about it. Once the CBA ran out and the NFLPA decertified last Friday, everything was fair game.

It's a subject that's been of interest to me for a few months, and I asked two player reps — Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth -- about it on an NFLPA media conference call on Jan. 11. George Atallah of the former NFLPA also chimed in.

Me: This is kind of an out-there question, but is there anything anywhere that would prevent NFL players from forming or joining an alternate league in the event of a lockout and/or CBA expiration?

Atallah: I think it's an interesting question. Well look, once the contract expires, all bets are off. Once the CBA expires, [the players are] unemployed.

Fujita: That's kind of what I was going to say. You know, if there's a lockout, we don't have a place to go to work. Could the players start their own league? Yes, absolutely, that could happen. Will it? I don't know, but yes, that's kind of a far-out-there question.

Foxworth: I mean, we're unemployed at that point. We'll be looking for work anywhere so if there's a league that's offering us a reasonable deal, it's not unreasonable that an unemployed man would take a job that offers him the ability to demonstrate the skills that he has.

Me: Ooookay.

Fujita: And maybe we'll coach in runaround teams, too.

Foxworth: That was awesome. I want to be the owner of the Baltimore [Brands].

Funny ha-ha, yes, but according to former Tennessee Titans defensive end and current free agent Jason Babin, it's an idea whose time may have come. The NFL has never experienced a work stoppage when alternate leagues were in effect, and while the UFL has no illusions of competing directly with the NFL as the American Football League and United States Football League did, players who love the game, or who want increased exposure for their skills, or who have run out of money in an extended stoppage, may very well jump ship. Babin's no scrub, either -- he made his first Pro Bowl in 2010 after racking up 12.5 sacks for the Titans. And former Dallas Cowboys practice-squadder Troy Bergeron, a receiver who just signed a reserve/future deal with Dallas, wound up skipping off to the Arena League.

"Right now, I am free and clear to do as I please,'' Babin recently told Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. "I could play in the Canadian Football League if I wanted to."

More importantly, he could play in a UFL that has been dealing with a lawsuit brought by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who loaned the league $5 million and was rather unhappy about not receiving payment. It's well-known that Cuban has thought about buying teams in other sports — he tried unsuccessfully to purchase the Chicago Cubs in 2008, and you'd think his entrepreneurial instincts would certainly pick up on the possibility of owning a team filled with NFL players, even in the short term. Other entrepreneurs, who see the cash cow the NFL has become (no matter what the league's current owners may have us believe), might buy in and resuscitate the UFL for the kinds of short-term gains the younger league might provide if it was literally the only game in town.

"I know those leagues would love to grow their awareness and if they got a certain amount of high-profile guys to join in, the money would go from the NFL pool to the CFL or UFL pool and maybe they could negotiate a TV deal," Babin told Wyatt. "Now that would scare the [stuffing] out of the NFL owners if they could pull something like that off, you know?

"So the NFL owners are fighting two fights. They are fighting a lockout fight, and they could be fighting the rise of the other leagues. They make themselves vulnerable the longer this lockout goes on.''

If the players don't win the antitrust lawsuit that begins on April 6, and the owners are permitted by law to lock the players out, the odds of a quick settlement are dim at best. The owners would likely use the leverage given by a lockout to dictate terms. But if a high percentage of the players were to play in a different league, it could be a victory on two levels. First, the players would prove that this really is about the game to them. Second, the players could build equity in the hearts and minds of an American public that, for the most part, doesn't care at all about the specifics of a labor fight — they just want football.

And the machinations of an alternate league could be one way for America to have it.[/i]

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I think that since these players are unemployed.. they have the right to go where they want BUT they can't get special contracts that allow them to leave when the NFL resumes..

they sign they sign!

you play until your contract is up.

but I can't see too many doing that.

Good read red and I agree cfl that not many at all would play here and risk injury. They make enough money that they can afford to sit the year out and relax playing golf and be at the beach or pool and just chillin.

With the new rule about the option year... Not being able to use it to go to the NFL... Can a team not just sign a player to a straight up one year deal?

Players will likely prefer to sign in the UFL because they can leave at any time during the season if the NFL resumes at some point.

Other than roster players I think we have to beat the UFL to the punch when it comes to TV exposure, we have to sign the NFL Network deal like last year but with more games and if the Lockout goes long enough past the pre-season we can get them to play some CFL games in August...

Currently the minimum contract the players can sign is a 2 year deal plus option.

I agree, the UFL offers more flexibility for players. They are the best option with contract flexibility, but since they are swimming in massive debt and with a weak TV deal on VS network in the US they probably can’t afford to pay many of them. The AFL could be an option as well. The CFL is on significantly better financial footing but has a more prohibitive contract structure with the 2 year deal. My question though is if you’re the commish would you alter the rules for an occasion such as this to make it easier for your member clubs to add a higher name or two to their roster for the duration of the lockout in exchange for trying to get more money in your US TV deal (I think the NFL network arrangement was only a one year agreement) and greater US exposure, and maybe even appeal to some Canadian fans who prefer the NFL. Personally, I think it would be a draw in some cities like Toronto, it would be great to see how certain NFL players might fare in the Canadian game, and I can see how much something like BC having Cam Wake came back during the lockout, even if it was only for 1/2 a season, would be appealing to lions fans. As interesting as it may be my personal opinion is that the league not make any changes. It would be too much of a risk think in the long run for a league that’s had to work hard to get to a level of financial stability. So again, my question is not what’s likely to happen, but what would your decision be if you were running things.

I think the main reason that the league wanted to get rid of the option year was to reduce the freeflow of players to the NFL and to, conversely, ensure a higher degree of player stability/commitment in our own league. Now because of an NFL lockout, we want to throw those priniciples out for a few previously overpaid prima donas? I call that “selling out”. And I, for one, will not have it.

...if that is the question, then as the boss I would dedicate 50 odd seats in the stands at McMahon for my current team's roster and insert the Patriots as a replacement team...

Awesome post....X2. I think teams who take their focus off their program to accomodate such oppotunists will damage their locker room for a lot longer than these guys will be around. However that plays in the hands of the UFL but that's ok by me :slight_smile:

Totally agree. I can't believe some people want to see the option year rule re-instated. If you can't commit for two years to the CFL, hit the road we don't want or need you. CFL teams put a huge amount of resources to find these guys, they owe it to commit for at least two seasons.

People like Dave Naylor are totally out to lunch on this in my opinion. We don't get any money from the NFL for essentially transferring our players, why should we let them walk then?

Gotta agree with the beagle on this one.

Typical over-paid chest thumping by a few NFL 'stars', news flash, we don't need you, we like our league just the way it is and it is very successful in it's own rights.

I agree with this. From what I hear the UFL has a lot of problems anyways. You'd have to think this is their best shot at actually gaining credibility. If not, that league will likely fold. Hopefully the CFL can get it's slice of the US TV pie.

From what I understood the UFL has been waiting for this, they were waiting to gain exposure when the NFL strikes, so I believe they will accommodate the players and over pay over their means to get them.

Do I think it will bring long term success to the UFL, no, its basically the same game as the NFL in smaller cities once the league settles the issues. The UFL will go back to what it was and fizzle.

I see the UFL becoming a lot what happened with the XFL with exposure, put the players in the league people will watch with high expectations, but in the end it's not the NFL.

I'd rather have a CFL all stars vs NFLPA game for fun, now it could happen

...I'm sure there are a lot of people who would luv to see some of that nfl talent on our rosters BUT it would be short-lived and not worth the effort....UNLESS these guys want to come up here and sign the CFL 2 plus 1 contract ,that is currently in place,NO-WAY...Once that league down south gets its act together, you'd see these fair-weather signings falling all over themselves heading for the exit (and that could be at anytime)....No thanx...there's no long-term benefit whatsoever in that scenario for us..I know our gm Mack, has stated he'd welcome any nfl player, currently locked-out, a spot on our roster...I think he forgot to state 'IF they'd sign on for 2 years'....Ain't gonna happen :wink:

No. The minimum contract is still a 1+1 deal but it's a team option. The player has to commit to 2 years when they sign.

The UFL already has rules in place about allowing players to jump to the NFL but if players want big paydays there is no place to play since the UFL also has a salary cap.

There is 2 reasons why I asked the question.

  1. You know any player signing would have to commit 2 years per the CBA, but yet you have players like Babin saying they've been offered a deal, a GM like Joe Mack says he'll welcome any NFL talent. It makes me wonder if there is some sort of unspoken gentleman's agreement amongst the management teams that might take place which would allow a locked out player to essentially sign the 2 year deal, be able to be released if the NFL starts back up without any of the other teams claiming the player on waivers. Whether that happens or not we probably won't know until it gets closer to time for camps to open. I think making such exemptions cheapens the league and may cause more harm than good in the long run, but that's just personal opinion.

  2. I wanted to see how much interest there was in my fellow CFL diehards to see what bigger name NFL talent then we are used to seeing come up and try to play our game and to what extent you are willing to alter the rules to accommodate it.

It looks like those who have given their opinion are along the same line of thought as myself, that we shouldn't make exceptions and that players who consider coming up should abide by the rules. Gotta admit though that, aside from RedandWhite's desire to replace the Stamps roster with the Patriots, there hasn't really been a voice in favour of making some sort of allowance.

I don't really like the idea of players comming for a bit then leaving again right away. Makes the league seem a little bush. It hurts enough already watching fantuz and browner leave.

...I understand the whole loyalty and team-love aspect gentlemen, but be honest, every team in our league has one mission: win....that's it, and coaches (be they separate or one in the same) are tasked by the very nature of their job to field the most competitive squad possible, they are not in the business of protecting players don't tell me that if the league says it's okay and Mark Sanchez wants to hone up his passing accuracy skills (which he needs to) and feels the best place to do this is in Winnipeg this summer that Mack is going to say, 'Thanks Mr. Sanchez, but we'll stay with Bandaid Buck here, because he's a nice guy'.....winning makes everything okay...

...I agree that long term (over the season) locker room stability is important...too many tweaks and it's lost..but a key player here or there that makes a difference, even for the short term, isn't going to kill a locker room...our teams often at times have turnstiles at the locker room door with players be released and injured etc....

...I was facetious about swapping my team with the pats, but I currently have the luxury of supporting a decent team these days...if I were an esky fan, or a leos fan or a bomber fan I'd wonder a little more if one or two key players might make a difference...