CFL: Are One-Year Contracts Hurting the League?

Under the current CBA players can now sign one-year contracts. Traditionally all CFL contracts were for a minimum of two-years, which included a one-year club option at the end of every contract.

The idea for allowing one-year deals was to attract "star" American players who were reluctant to sign two-year lCFL contracts. So now we have transient players who sign to play a few games after their NFL option dry up...only to leave their CFL team the next year for another NFL tryout or to sign for $5k more with another team. Is this really helping the CFL? Are the few players who will only sign a one-year deal worth turning the league into a game of musical chairs? Here is the story:

One-year contracts have been a disaster for the CFL

Upon seeing the huge, ridiculous and official list of potential free agents — 223 players! — it’s obvious the Canadian Football League needs to re-implement the mandatory option-year clauses in its players’ contracts.

The current free-agency rules are in danger of seriously damaging the league’s ability to engage its fans.

Each of the nine teams has between 21 to 31 players who can become free agents if they don’t re-sign with their current squad before Feb. 14. The Grey Cup-winning Ottawa Redblacks have the most potential free agents, with 31, which means that each franchise could lose roughly one-third of the players they had on their active roster and injury lists.


I don't agree with this at all. It's the one year contracts that are going to get more and better players here, than by having the two plus an option. Further, free agency begins Feb 15 (or there abouts). Why not December 1st?

I would prefer a minimum 2 or 1 with an option myself.

Saying that, other leagues especially ones with a salary cap have one year contracts and part of the reason is cap management.

Yes it will lead to greater roster turnover which is a tough sell.

The League has a massive advantage in contracts with the players.
All CFL contracts for the players are not guaranteed, the contracts are only guaranteed for the teams but not the players.
Why would a player want to sign a multiyear contract when the team can dump you without pay at any time?
This is why most players want as much of their contract paid in advance thru bonuses before the season even starts.
If the CFL guaranteed the contracts for the players lots of them would sign longer terms.

This shouldn't be about what "the player's want" but what the CFL clubs want. The players will sign in the CFL regardless of the terms. This is their last chance option to play real football. No football league guarantees player contracts. Look how that has destroyed most of the other leagues, with players becoming petulant sissy's who couldn't hold Gordie Howe's or Jim Brown's jock strap (and probably wouldn't want to)...who earn millions trying to avoid physical contact. No so in football. It's still a man's game where you have to perform on the field every game or you're off the team. It's not for quitter's who'll still earn their inflated contracts while sitting on the bench (or beach).

The CFL does guarantee veteran's contracts for the last half of each season, including playoff bonuses. So there's that.

I'd like the league to re-instate the one-year team option at the end every player's contract. That policy worked for many decades in the CFL, when the league signed some of the most talented and spectacular players in history. If a player won't commit to the CFL for 2 seasons, they should perhaps lounge on their Mom's couch waiting for the NFL to call, as that's probably where they belong.

....I knew this one year deal scenario would come back to haunt the league....We should be striving for continuity and not being held ransom by the nfl...If you aren't willing as a player to commit for at least two years...go find other employment.. Also it just sickens me every year when I see our prime Canadian players getting skimmed off by the nfl...never mind the players who come here for one year from the states, show flashes and then want to be nfl tc fodder...We need better commitment.

Have to wonder how many people in the locker room --coaching staff and players alike--are wearing phony smiles during their engagements throughout the course of the season, wondering if the person they are engaging would even be with them next year?

Pretty unfortunate in terms of building a team's chemistry. I say play for the fans and your fellow teammates, not the money, but the days of community are fading fast in this selfie-stick society. Must be especially hard on coaches and players alike not knowing who is coming or going.

I don't think it makes much difference in the quality of players signing in the CFL.

However, wasn't this a concession by the league made in order to have the players agree to a relatively small salary cap increase in comparison to the revenue increase enjoyed by the teams? If so, perhaps the next negotiations should include a much larger increase to the cap in order to reinstate 2+ year contracts.

I think it hurts the league. It may be better for individual players, in the short term. If your main concern is helping players maximize their income today while keeping their options open to leave the CFL ASAP, then you should be all for one-year contracts.

If your priority is to build fan interest in the CFL, then I’m not sure how you could possibly be in favour of team rosters turning over by, say, 25-50% year after year. How on earth are fans ever supposed to identify with their team’s players when no one sticks around long enough?

I’m old enough to remember when your best players would be on the team for 5 or 10 years. You could buy a jersey and have a reasonable hope of it still being current a few years later. When a guy bolted for another team you’d be shocked and appalled (see O’Shea, M). Now we’ve come to expect it.

I also want the players to be well rewarded. But I think transient rosters hurt the league in the long run, and in so doing, reduce the amount available to reward the players.

I think this is a very good point. Unfortunately, those running the league have not always been known for their long-term planning.

At least when we had 2+option contracts, those leaving for a shot in the NFL but failing were still property of the same CFL team. Actually, it always bugged me when they'd go south, sit on a practice squad or whatever for a year, and then return to the league as FAs. If we ever bring back an option-year clause, I think players should still be property of the team until they fulfill that option year for the team.

BC seems to be finding a way to offer option-year like agreements to their players, so maybe it's something we'll return to in the future.

Give this a read, A story from last off season on the inequality of CFL Contracts and how both the League and the Union are implicated.

A CFL player speaks out: the league is taking advantage of us

" fairness is one of the defining principles of sport and while the CFL playing field might be wider and longer, there’s one thing it isn’t: level."

[url=] ... age-of-us/[/url]

This article is jumping the gun a fair bit. It's using the number of free agents only as evidence that it's a disaster. It assumes that the majority of those guys are going somewhere else.

We're two months from the actual start of free agency and the majority of players who had already re-signed with their teams signed two year contracts. Let's pump the brakes a bit before crying "disaster" over contracts taht, right at the moment, don't appear to be all that popular.

For that matter, as fans of the league, let's just stop treating everything like life or death. "The league needs a video game to survive!!" "The league can't grow its fanbase without a team in the Maritimes!" "Fans are going to abandon the Grey Cup at those prices!" Let's stop acting like every challenge is bringing us to the edge of a cliff, please.

Why not bring back minimum 2-yr contracts but with a player's NFL option in the 2nd (or last) year of his contract for a NFL tryout? This could be the best of both worlds. If the player doesn't sign a NFL contract in his option year window (Dec. 15th to Jan. 29th, for example) his rights remain with his CFL team, becoming a free agent after the season or re-signing.

This would be a major concession to the players (perhaps in the next CBA) to grant NFL free agency to all players in the final year of their contract. This is essentially what the Lions have done to sign top their players to long-term contracts.

Canadian football is a different game for many American players, who often need at least 2 seasons to acclimate themselves to the unique rules, field, etc. So hotshot rookies might be more inclined to sign in the CFL for a minimum two years, knowing they can leave for a NFL tryout after one season.

The reality is 95% of these players will be reluctant to leave the CFL especially if they become starters. So the occasional young CFL superstar might leave the league early due to this NFL option window, but perhaps 19 out of 20 players will stay and contribute to the league longer term.

Perhaps as a player's concession for NFL free agency and to encourage roster stability, teams could "match" the highest offer made for their free agents keeping the player on the team. This would keep players from changing teams for $15k or whatever, plus the player still gets his money.

I think you find a middle ground here. I think you have no shortage of talent to draw from, and the of US players who want to get into the CFL is long, ample and full of talent, so expecting a commitment is not unreasonable for a player who can't crack it into the NFL on his first shot.

On the other side good players should be rewarded sooner rather then later. My suggestion is bring back the option year, but if the team wants to exercise it, they have to pay the player an increased percentage of their contact. Something like a minimum 25% extra.

That or an NFL option in the contract, where they get time to tryout for an NFL club, but the team retains their rights if they leave, and is allowed to continue their old contract if and when they come back.

I think one year contracts are a mistake. Having that many players going to free agency isn't cool.