Player retention

It has been acknowledged by fans, players, coaches & management as well as the CFLPA and the CFL that frequent player movement between teams detracts from the promotion and success of the game. Fan engagement goes down when your team gets an exciting player only to see him with an opposing team the next year. It would have been unthinkable many years ago to see Angelo Mosca playing for a variety of different teams, or Reed or any player with a lot of years and history with one team.

This is a well-documented problem and no one is really to blame under the current system. Players need to maximize their earning potential for a few short years and teams need to work within the current salary cap rules to field the most competitive team they can.

An example is Adam Bighill. He is a free agent. The Bombers will be nuts not to do everything to retain him. He is one of the best in the league. The Bombers have to work within the current rules and may not be able pay him his true value (maybe they will, this is a hypothetical example). As a result he may go to his 3rd team in his career. A one year contract and maybe in ‘23 he goes to his 4th.

The CFL and CFLPA are negotiating a new CBA this spring. Do you have any ideas or suggestions of ways to allow or even reward longer player retention on any team.

I have a few ideas and most are probably undoable for one reason or another. Please comment and provide your thoughts. Perhaps player movement is not an issue for you but it is around our house. I was almost not allowed to purchase a Fajardo jersey as I have a history of buying jerseys for player who leave the next year. Given that these ideas will all cost money, the premise is that the improvements will bring in enough new money from fans and TV to cover the costs.

  1. The salary cap needs to be increased so that ALL of the team players can get a reasonable salary and leave some room for payouts and costs in my other suggestions.
  2. Examine the percentages of the salary cap paid over the past years and establish bands and percentages of cap by position. Essentially have a QB cap, an O-line cap, a D-line cap, etc. That keeps salaries more competitive throughout the league.
  3. Have a longevity bonus for players that does not count towards the cap and is similar for all players based on years with a team and not by position. Say $5000 for second year with a team, $10000 for third and an additional $1000 added to the $10000 for each subsequent year. (If a player is traded, that is does not leave a team of their own volition, their seniority goes with them). I suggest that this bonus be paid by the league.
  4. Make all yearly bonuses guaranteed by the original team regardless if the player is released and picked up by a different team. Bonuses would follow players if traded. Too many teams release players just before bonuses are due as a salary cap dump. If they had to pay the bonus anyway, they would retain more players.
  5. Make salaries at least partially guaranteed if released after starting at least 6 games. I am not as likely to release a player if I still have to pay him something.
  6. Put a surcharge of 10%, paid to the league, half by the player and half by the team and counting towards the cap for a 1 year contract. 5% for a 2-year deal, 0% for a 3-Year deal.
  7. Reward Free Agents & teams with a percentage bonus from the league for any contracts renewed (registered, approved and announced) prior to 2 weeks before free agency begins. 1.0 % to player in cash (based on contract or first year of multiyear contract) and 0.1% to team for increased salary cap space (based on base salary cap).

All of points you put forward are good ideas.

The salary cap does need to be increased with a floor or minimum to be spent.

Percentage of cap towards the QB could be workable. Not sure if you limit salaries for positions as that can be a bone of contention.

Long term contracts is a must.

Other than that all are good ideas.

Well done :+1:.

Long term contracts? All an American player has to do is say the heck with that and sign with an NFL club and leave Canadian soil.

The only thing Canada can do is ban them from the CFL like they did with Johnny Manziel since we are dealing with separate countries.

Is that accurate international law-wise?

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Long term could mean up to 3 seasons.

As for players who would turn down contracts like that, that's their choice. Just they should not be able to come back if NFL opportunities dry up at least for one season.

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IIRC The NFL window was brought back. The only way a player doesn't qualify is if they are to receive an off season bonus after December 12.

If they don't latch on to an NFL team, their CFL rights stay with their current team


As long as they're in their option year they qualify for the window unless they get their bonus.

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Good new post.

My take on your suggestions:

  1. Increasing the salary cap is the only way to alleviate the problem long term. Of course revenues must increase to be able to do this and Covid is not helping.

  2. Not crazy about having a cap for separate positions. It diminishes the advantage of a good manager and also positional excellence fluctuates at different positions over time. Perhaps doing something with the QB's alone might be of assistance but my sense is that all of this would just be misdirection and/or spoon feeding from the overall cap.

  3. I don't think there is enough incentive for the team or the league to keep players- this is too one sided for my liking and there is nothing to prevent the type of cuts we see at present before bonuses are due. And the league may not be able to afford to pay as well.

  4. This is too fundamental a change for me. I have already posted at length about my admiration for CFL and NFL players and PGA Tour golfers above all, for being paid only as long as they perform. This mirrors real life. We don't need mollycoddled athletes whose performance has no bearing on their contract. Like baseball pitchers who win 17 games in 5 years and make $80 million. It is up to each athlete and team to negotiate a contract and bonuses or guarantees may or may not be part of it. Obviously more likely to happen for the top players, as it should.

  5. I have more warmth for this idea or something along those lines. I distinctly remember that all CFL contracts at one time became guaranteed after Labour Day. I don't know what happened to this. This of course resulted in a flood of cuts just before the contracts became guaranteed, which roughly coincided with final NFL pre season cuts. Having some point of no return where contracts become guaranteed for that year only is not unreasonable and would certainly help the players and they would at least have to perform for the first part of the year. They could turn into a baseball pitcher only after that.

  6. Maybe some kind of a surcharge paid by the team could help. I am not sure why the player would pay if he has a contract and again don't think the league would be willing or likely could afford to. This would have to be worked through. I assume your suggestion relates to the term of the contract signed but what if the player was cut before the term expired? How would the surcharge be treated?

  7. I doubt this would work as the league I believe generally cannot afford to pay this. For any of the "league to pay" suggestions there would have to be some kind of levy somewhere or payment from TV monies to the league so that they could afford to pay. Not impossible, but the owners would have to approve.

Overall, increasing revenues would be the best answer, obvious as that may be. My thought is that having a player movement agreement in place with the NFL would be of assistance as well, especially if that included some payment by the NFL to the CFL for poached players.


Where is it "acknowleged by fans" ? I would think that Winnipeg fans were ecastatic that they picked up Collaros and Hamilton fans were glad to see him go.
Lions fans were ecstatic when they signed Reilly.
FA is an exciting time to see teams pick up players from other teams.
Lots of fans get their wish to see players leave and new ones step in.
If teams wish to keep a favourite popular player they will pay him the money and sign him. Players also have been known to stay with their current team for less money.
Where is it "well documented" that it's a problem?
Can you provide a link?

It is true that some free agency is helpful to the fans and of course it would be impossible not to have it in any sport, thanks to Curt Flood et al.

I think the point being made is that today's one year and out contracts work against many players staying with one team for very long and promote a mercenary type approach. Even with free agency the contract landscape used to be different and contracts were longer, causing players to stay with one team for longer periods of time. Many would prefer a return to that state of affairs.

If Stamps can retain players like Auntie Olga retains water, they will be fine

The CFL and NFL have agreements to respect each other's contracts and suspensions. I supposed the NFL could tear up that agreement anytime, but they've shown no desire to do so that I'm aware of.

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A fairly simple change I'd like to see is an adjustment to the naturalized national rule.

IIRC, the current rules allow for Americans to count as Canadians if they've been on the same team for 3 years or simply in the league for 4 years.

Get rid of the 4 years part, so that only Americans who have been on one team can qualify. That would allow teams to offer veteran Americans "National" money to re-sign whereas other teams would have to budget differently to sign those FAs away from their previous clubs.

Player retention is a must the tear down of the RB's was a great way to lose football in the capital after so much goodwill gained after 40 plus years of horrific or no football .

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I am thinking that the reason the NFL doesn't care is - the NFL has 16 players on each practice squad which amounts to 500+ players over the whole NFL - most of whom make more than the CFL minimum at $9,200 USD a week - if they play in the NFL one game they get an NFL game check which is about $40k USD - the CFL needs 192 Americans give or take - Basically the NFL doesn't need to poach players from CFL - they have as many players on the payroll on practice squads than the whole CFL has on roster - Warren Moon, Flutie, and Dunnigan would be on practice rosters in the modern NFL -

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You mean the Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon would be on today's practice roster?

Is it because he played in the CFL from 1978-1983 or you think he won't be able to keep up with today's NFL?

If it weren't for the CFL, Warren Moon wouldn't be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as he was slated to be a running back as the NFL at the time didn't deem African Americans at QB material (that's another topic and conversation for a different day).

It's like telling #99 he won't make today's NHL.

Different game during a different time.


It’s definitely different today but I still think that Moon and Flutie would both play in todays NFL. Moon as a starter, Flutie perhaps not. He wasn’t great as an NFL starter even in his day. Dunigan didn’t play in the NFL.

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Warren moon would absolutely be in the NFL today - He would be in the NFL right out of the gate - should have stated my thesis better - my apologies for not putting more thought into my wording - the only reason he was in the CFL was due to systemic racism in the NFL - that is correct - my statement is that those levels of talent would not be allowed to leave the NFL corporate mother-ship - someone would have snatched them up and stashed them on an NFL practice roster as opposed to allowing them to go north - I think that the NFL is not letting even slightly talented players like that head north like they did back in the day -

Sorry about the miscommunication on my part - January 1st - not firing on all cylinders this early in the day -

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I think that Dunnigan would be on a practice roster today for a few years or as a backup - The NFL pay scale is high enough to keep a lot of those guys from heading north - not a different game per se -

Dunnigan came into the CFL in 1983 when there were 28 teams - the NFL has added 4 teams since then which is around 200 players - then throw in the 500 players on NFL practice rosters - so there are 700 NFL jobs today that didn't exist in 1983 - Just from a numbers standpoint I don't think that players of that quality would end up in the CFL like they did pre-NFL expansion - and the NFL pulling in so many players for practice rosters - there are 700 NFL football jobs more in 2022 that didn't exist in 1983 or even 1990 - and there are only 500 CFL jobs today - purely a numbers game -

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Perhaps. Dunigan’s NFL weakness would be his height, as it was for Flutie. But not unreasonable to think he would at least be on a practice roster though. I did a quick check and it doesn’t appear Dunigan ever tried the NFL. Maybe that was because he was well paid in the CFL and the gap in pay back then was nothing like it is now. Streveler has probably already made close to what Reilly and Mitchell have in their entire CFL careers, especially if he gets in the few more games necessary to qualify for his pension.

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No worries. Was surprised you included Moon in the conversation.

Flutie's size initially may have prevented him from achieving status in the early eighties or 1985 to be exact but he put an 8 years and see if all and was able to have a decent NFL career afterwards.

Dunnigan never played in the NFL (not sure if he ever drafted by an NFL team). Hard to judge if he could have been successful.