CFL Salary Cap??

Congratulations again to the Saskatchewan Rough Riders for winning the Grey Cup and now being voted Canada's Team by the Canadian Press.

A question I wondered though as I looked at many CFL blogs and reports that the Riders may have indeed gone over the Salary Cap in 2013. If true that they did go over the Cap is it fair to have won by over shooting the salary cap and stacking your team with quality players or not?

If you agree than maybe Hamilton should do the same, if the salary capo is 4.5 million or whatever it currently is, maybe spend 6 or 7 million and get a winner?

Obviously the Salary Cap in the CFL is crazy to begin with because unlike the NFL where teams must present their team salaries at the beginning of the season in the CFL teams are audited at the end of the year and if a team goes over the cap the fines are
minimal at best as compared to winning a Grey Cup.

What do Tiger-Cat fans think, is it a level playing field that teams should be required in the CFL to play within a Salary Cap or should the Tiger-Cats and any team in the league be able to buy a Championship if they want to?

Here's what a fan from TSN had to say, that I thought was in line for this question.

rider onthe island
1 hour ago

to anyone complaining about the Riders going over the cap should realize we can afford to do that because of all of the fan support they have. You people are just jealous that your teams can't afford to do it. The league puts fines in place expecting it to happen and it's not our fault that you don't have enough fan support for your team to allow them this. Its this reason we are the best fans in the canada and believe me if your teams had the cash they would do it too, or maybe they don't care enough to. Either way the Riders deserve this and THANKS CANADA!

The latest news on the Riders is that they probably went over by only $30,000 or $40,000. Not a huge amount, which probably is the result of aiming for just under the cap and then going over because of injuries. Yes, their fan base allows them to spend a bit more than other teams, but not by as much as some people have accused them of.

As to your suggestion of going over the cap by $1.5 million, I'm pretty sure no team could afford that. The penalty for that would be $4.2 million and two lost draft choices. No owner is going to spring for that kind of cash even if they could guarantee having a winning season.

But I wouldn't have a problem with aiming closer to the cap like the Riders did, although with our recent injury history, we'd likely be way over the cap by the end of the year. But to aim to go over? I don't think that would be a good idea.

With the use of the 9 game IR many teams spend much more than the cap. Some are not real injuries and are used as developmental spots for some high quality potential players they have plans for.
Some are due to injury.
Montreal for example had most likley about 700 to 800K on their 9 game IR this season of high priced players who were really injured. AC at abouty 400K Woodruff, Florey, and Richardson all see 6 digit salaries I am sure.

Just because the riders spent a lot of money which they did it does not automatically mean they went over the cap. SOme injuries and some careful use of the 9 game IR would not keep all those salaries on counting towards the cap.
Since the beginning of Salary Caps in pro sports every team and I mean every team finds creative ways to make it work.
Or by rule are afforded the choice to go over the cap but have a series of penalties involved.

As for the Riders some guys started the season on the 9 game like a Pat Neufeld and Zack Evans. Neufeld hurt Evans not.
As some players got injured like a Macho Harris and Milt Collins were placed on the 9 game and others came on to replace. with the replacements doing well both ended up being shut down for the season spending most of it on the 9 game.
With Graig Butler able to start at Will LB and have solid back up in Hurl and Tristian black abe Kromah was also 9 gamed and shut down for the season.
Neufeld and a fresh Evans came off and Rey williams got injured and went on. Hilee Taylor got injured and the riders traded away Neufeld for Hall and Taylor whether he became healthy or not was shut down on kept on the 9 game.
I would suspect the signing of shut down CB Rod Williams was a substancial hit on the cap but room was probably afforded by Williams Rey being out. Rod then got injured and spent the rest of the eason on the IR but joined the roster for the playoffs which could have been where the cap was breached. but in that case going over at a tier one being just over the cap was could for the CFL as they want the best players on the field for the playoffs and moving Maze back to HB gave the Riders an All Star CB to play for the million fans watching for playoff games and the several miillions for the Grey cup.
I did that off the top of my head so I could be off on some of the timing but that is how they may have been able to carry a lot of players with good salaries and just barely going over the cap.
All of that is perfectly in the rules and all teams do it.
Except for this season with AC going on the IR for real they always have a Qb not injured who they thikhas great potential

A comment by Rob Vanstone in Regina -- "CFL Players deserve a raise:"

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I think everyone including the CFL owners would agree the SMS should and will rise with the increased TV money. But of course the issue will be by how much. The Players will want more than the owners are willing to cough up. So the back and forth this Spring. Hopefully everyone will try and be fair and a good deal for both can be reached. But I believe the League will want the Players to give up something for the increase in salary. Don't know what that might be as the Players haven't much left to give. The ratio was brought up at the last round of negotiations, but that didn't go over very well with the Fans so the League backed off.
I have proposed that the rosters go to 22 Non-Imports and 22 Imports. With the extra two Non-Imports be a special designated Senior Imports. The two most Senior Imports on each roster (with at least 5 years continuous in the League) be classified as Non-Imports. Once one of them were released or retired then the next in line would become Non-Imports.
If a Import player went to the NFL and then came back (like John Chick) they would have to start the clock again. These players would be commanding a high salary and by adding two roster spots the present Canadian content wouldn't be lessened, so that should be in the CFLPA interest. The Coaches would be getting two more talented players on the Non-Import side of the Roster that would compensate somewhat for the League losing the top rated Canadians to the NFL each year.

Are the players grossly underpaid as he says or is the fact that players in other leagues and sports are overpaid?
It's the entertainment business and to get the best you have to pay. But in a league like the CFL where you only play 18 games but have high overheads costs it's tough to make money. I estimate that it is roughly $16 Million a year to operate a CFL team, so a team better make at least $16 million in revenue to break even.
The new TV contract may bring in an additional $1 to $2 Million per year per team. We know that the CFL got around $40 million but we don't know how much is split between the teams and the CFL. It must take a lot of money to operate the CFL head office and their marketing department, CFL control, etc, a million a year for the Commish and his staff, at least.

If each team does get an additional $2 Million a year, should that be spent on the players??? how about telling the players that we will give you a raise but we have to cut down the rosters and reduce the Canadian content? raise the cap and reduce the number of players - do they really need 46 starters to support 12 men on the field. I know some will say "what about the NFL" but they can afford it, the CFL can't. Do we have the luxury of a "special teams unit" ?
Some owners have been losing a lot of money each year shouldn't they use the additional money to pay down their debts instead of the players?
Some tough choices, on one hand they have to pay the players good money to attract good players, on the other hand paying too much could destroy some teams.

The highest paid players in the CFL make a generous paycheck,
I would hope to see the minimum raised considerably,($45K )
Also a raise for practice roster players.($500/week)
If the highest paid players just get all of the raise in the Cap, so that 3 or 4 players eat up all of the Cap isn't right.
Maybe it is time for revenue sharing.
It is a full time job for these players to maintain their conditioning in the off season,
Going to team related public functions, etc.

I couldn't agree more. It's now time to get rid of the reality and perception that the CFL is still minor league. This may seem crazy to some but I believe the minimum salary should be $ 100,000.00. (Canadian as I believe that's the currency used to pay players)

Yes, I recognize that that would be 4.5 million for 45 players (just using round figures) which is why I think the cap has to serious jump up into the 7-10 million a year range. Yes, I am serious, the players should really take this bargaining session with a lot of resolve. The players deserve much more benefit from the T.V. deal, new stadiums, multi-platform, merchandise etc...

And before anyone asks I think more money spent in Toronto is the idea not less and as others have posted get M.L.S.E. to buy the Argos (of course that's easier said then done) and their expertise in marketing on board!

To play the game of football at a very high level you should not have to work in the off season as well. If you want to by choice then fine but I think the quality of the game which I already thoroughly enjoy would be taken to another level with more players from both sides of the border knowing they can do okay financially in the CFL in the very short average length of career players have in football.

On an aside, if I were the owners I would tightened up the contract rules with regard to having players stay longer in the CFL before being able to opt out for a shot at the NFL but that's another whole discussion.

Anyway, there's my two cents,

I agree the minimum salary to me is a big issue.
There are other issues like a change in ratio or making rosters bigger but I doubt that either of those will see any change this time around.
The main discussion, and should be, is the players raises. The players bit the bullet for an extremely low SMS the last couple of times around but since the popularity has grown from a couple hundred thousand watching on TV to 7.5 hundred thosand watching today is a solid number which not only gave the CFL and Increase to TV rights but also a less talked about increase of corporate and corporate sponsors in a new and variey of ways.

As for team profit sharing it will be probably the best for the CFL. every team in the CFL depends on the success of the other franchises.
From what I know in the secret CFL is that profit sharing in the past was basically the teams making money giving money to teams not making money. This is not a very good way of doing it and alows teams not to do their do dilligence to improve their revneu.

The suggestion would be for all teams to take 20% of thier gate profits for the regular season, even those who are mking much less, and put all of that 20% of each team in a profit sharing account. The total number of dollars in this sharing acount will be divided equally among the 9 franchises.
This gies a team such as the risers who are making great money at the gate to keep 80% for themselves and still receive an equal portion form that profit sharing account.
Yhe early NFL owner in New York I beleive set up a similar profit sharing model to help the smaller market teams but not give all of their earnings away.

That is a good 2 cents. I think you has pretty much summed it up. I also have stated that the Minimum should be a 6 digit 100K.
Currently the low 45K has set a landscape for players, especially Canadian, are better off being on a practice roster in the NFL for a couple of years before they have been deemed NFL roster worthy or will return to their CFL club.
As much as I would like to see it at 100K for this CBA even a bump to 75K would be a step in the right direction.
After this CBA is up it will be much more clear on how much corporate sponsor and suite revenue have affected the total amount of profit.

Rather than compare CFL player salaries with NHL player salaries, Vanstone should compare CFL player salaries with average yearly salaries of Canadians; furthermore, if you compare salaries you also have to include/compare revenues. Yes, CFL salaries will increase with the new TV deal but it won't be in line with some of the dreamers.

Excluding playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens gate receipts are in the vicinity of $90.0 millions yearly,which is at least 10 times more than most CFL teams. Les Canadiens have recently signed a 12 year agreement with RDS to televise 60 of their 82 games; none of these games will be on saturdays; the 12 year agreement for these 60 games yearly amounts to $816.0 millions or $68.0 millions per season. The CFL and its 9 teams receive roughly $40.0 millions yearly for 81 regular games + playoff games + Grey Cup game. In order to be in line with Les Canadiens, the CFL and its 9 teams would have to receive roughly $100.0 millions yearly.

Once the gate receipts and TV revenues are in line with NHL, we could then be taking more about minimum salary of $100,000.00; until then, the Vanstones of this world should be more realistic.

In 2014, I expect the CFL minimum salary to be in the vicinity of $50,000; not too bad for 6 months. Many,many,many University graduates starting to work do make less than this amount yearly; in many instances, they don't even find work in what they have studied. Vanstone did write that Kory Sheets made roughly $60,000 in 2013; still much better than working in the States for minimum salary. If players are not satisfied,they can just leave the CFL and go work elsewhere.


This is a great topic, and I believe that the min. should be at least $100,000
I think that the CFL would get a little bit more respectability with that minimum
but one asterisk I would say is that, at the end of the season for Saskatchewan Kory Sheets
was the go-to-guy BUT at the beginning of the season, Kory Sheets was signed to a contract as
a hopeful good player, and was not even a guaranteed starter. But other than that I agree with everyone 100% :rockin:

You cant pay what you dont have, so why I would also love to see 100K as the minimum giving the CFL a bit more credibility by others it just is not there quite yet.
With the secrative CFL and their money and contracts etc it is hard for me to put any number on it but I would like to see a concept where there is a max salary to pay a player while the league trise to begin to close the gap.
Still the better players will get more and the reserve rookies etc will still get min or lower salaries keep the gap reasonable.
For example NFL QB taking a paycut for the good of a team may lower his salary to say 15 million a year while the min is 410K.

I would like to see a player max at about 500K that would be for your franchise type QB. A QB from the NFL who is may have been on the verge would understand 500K as a solid gig.
get your back up to about 200- 250K and we would not have to see a rookie as your back up there would be more experinced and better QB prospects looking to the CFL
Get more of your franchise star type skill players into a place where 150-200 K is not breaking the teams bank.

I also would like to see something the CFL can do in bulk to get a deal. Like Housing for all first year players in the league even if it is a National or team deal with it being ahotel room. People say who would want to live in a hotel room.
A kid from calgary who gets the minimum as a 5th round pick but makes the Ti Cats in Hamilton would certainly take free housing for a season.
A young import who spent 3 seasons on an NFL practice roster and runs out of oprions andjust could not get over the hump onto an NFL roster from New Jersey who also turns some heads and makes a CFL roster in Regina would also be much appreciative to have a free hotel room for a season.


Someone much better at math than I am, can you please answer a couple of questions for me; what are the ramifications if any of a weakening Canadian dollar? Are all things CFL i.e. salaries paid, purchasing, marketing etc. etc.... paid in Canadian funds only and what if any difference would or could this make to the CBA negotiations and or salary cap.

Just curious?


Salaries are paid in CAD's. Players file & pay taxes in the province their team resides. The taxes they pay here are netted out against any taxes they pay back home in the United States (or Australia).

Ramifications: A weakening Canadian Dollar is very detrimental to attracting American players to play in Canada. It also ould definitely have an impact upon CBA Negotiations. But remember ... the CFLPA ... over it's history ... is staffed/populated/controlled by the Canadian Players (Or Canadian Domiciled Players) ... and while I admit my next statement can be seen as Hyperbole ... The CFLPA looks out for the Canadian players and those American veterans who make Canada their home ... So, that lessens the impact of a declining CDN $ in future CBA negotiations.

Wouldn't it be interesting if a player actually did this? Decide he wasn't getting paid what he thought he was worth and sit out the season? Maybe even try to get a job playing football somewhere else where he could get paid more? Of course, he'd have to get out of his CFL contract first somehow.


Chris Williams pretty much did just that.

It is also time to get rid of the option year that basically holds a player hostage when he would rather be a FA on the open market or pursue the NFL. The mandatory option year is the dumbest thing going.

Also I should add that a veteran should have a percentage of their contract guarenteed. The current guarentee after labour day is pointless as any player on the fringe just gets released before. The CFL still operates its contracts like a minor league operation. It is time that the players start to get operate its contracts like a major professional league and reward the players with their hardwork. After all without them there would be no 40 million dollar TV deals.