Suggested Changes to Import Rules

There is a rather long thread (24 pages) related to this topic on the Ticats board (, but I figured I'd create a new one here to get more people's opinion.

I'm starting it off with saying I support the goal of the import rule, but think the rule itself could use improvement. In particular, I think quarterbacks should not be excluded from the import roster count. I also would not want the maximum number of starting imports to increase beyond the current 16, as I see this reducing the number of non-imports at the skills positions.

My suggested rule change is:

  • Include the starting and second string quarterbacks in the import roster count; the third string quarterback would continue to be excluded to prevent teams from abusing the rule change by signing a non-import quarterback who they have no intention of letting play just to gain another import spot somewhere else, and would also continue to be restricted from punting and kicking duties to prevent teams from abusing the rule by designating their kicker as the third quarterback to gain an extra roster spot;
  • Continue to exclude the quarterback from the starting import count, so the 24 starters will still be 1 QB, max 16 imports, and min 7 non-imports.

This should encourage teams to develop Canadian QBs, as once they are good enough to be designated at least second string, their teams gain an additional import spot for special teams. And by continuing to exclude them from the starting import count, it allows a non-import starting quarterback to be replaced with an import quarterback without affecting the rest of the starting lineup.

For those who enjoy legalese, the actual text to reflect this in the CBA would change as follows (I think), with the changes highlighted as bold:

This change to the import rule would mean the maximum number of imports would increase from 16 to 18 (22 imports on the roster minus 4 designated imports). Which would mean teams could start as few as 5 non-imports. Currently, both Montreal and Toronto are starting five non-imports on their o-line. I think with this rule change, we'd see more teams doing that, reducing or even eliminating non-imports from the skills positions, with very few exceptions. I think it's important that there be at least a few non-imports in these positions on every team, as those are the players that most fans tend to watch (not all, of course).

Sorry, but I'd have to say no to this part of your suggestion. Increase the number of DIs to six, and I could go for it.

Some good ideas here!

I'd like to see Canadian QB's be counted in the ratio. Restrict each team to 21 Americans and 21 Canadians (with 7 Canadian and 16 American starters plus 3 QB's). The 3 QB's could be of any nationality but couldn't play any other position.

I would eliminate the 4-man reserve list (players who receive full salary but can't play) and create a 12-man Practice/Reserve squad. Players could be signed to "two-way" contracts where they could be activated from the P/R and receive full salary or remain as "claimers" receiving a practice salary.

The only problem with including the third QB in the roster count is I could see teams designating an unqualified non-import player as their third QB just to get an extra import player onto the roster somewhere else.

Extra PR spots? Agreed. Eliminate the reserve, and just go to a 46-man roster? Maybe. If the team’s paying them, they might as well play them, right?

I would like the CFL to blow up the quarterback designation.

The designated import was introduced (as the 14th import) in 1969. The DI was only allowed to enter the game if another import was eliminated for the remainder of the game. In 1970, the rule was amended to allow teams to carry an import QB as the DI. The amendment allowed the quarterbacks to alternate freely for each other. To avoid abuse of the new rule, the quarterback designation was created.

As far as I'm concerned, this rule change was the first step towards eliminating the non-import quarterback.

Today, the DI is no longer an injury replacement. All designated imports are allowed to alternated freely with other imports.

By eliminating the QB designation we would go from:
A roster of 20 non-imports, 19 imports, 3 QBs with 3 designated imports
To a roster of 20 non-imports, 22 imports and 5 designated imports

I think it should be up to the teams to decide if they want to carry 2 or 3 quarterbacks for a game. I think we might see some teams carry a non-import as the 3rd quarterback in this situation.

I believe that a quarterback should be allowed to play any other position. Who cares if your 3rd string QB is also a backup to another position (example: safety). It may also promote the non-import QB.

I think that offences could be more creative if they could play two quarterbacks at the same time. Back in the 1950s, if Jackie Parker was struggling at QB he just shifted to halfback and Don Getty entered as the QB.

Cats, well then keep the current number of import starters the same, but of the 22 imports in my proposed new total of 46 active players on the roster, allow the three extra imports then to be also DI's. There would be then up to 5 total DI's instead of the current 3.

The three import QBs are in addition to these 22 imports, so that leaves 21 non-imports (22+3+21=46).

If there is a non-import QB as the third QB, I agree with you now to exclude him from the ratio too in order to prevent abuse as you describe well.

Also I add that there should be an 8th practice roster spot for use only by a non-import QB for sake of better development of talent in Canada.

Just reduce the NI starters by two per team. Bring it down to 19 from 21 when Ottawa enters the league. By reducing the NIs by two you actually increase the number of NIs but still giving teams the flexibility of adding two more Imports.
8 team X 21 NIs = 168, When Ottawa enters 9 teams X 19 = 171

Right now the glaring problem is the lack of quality Canadian "O" lineman, too many teams chasing too few "O" Lineman. When Ottawa enters the league it means another team looking for "O" linemen.

No do not reduce the number of NI starters I say. There are serious perils to the game thriving and growing if that is done.

The game is fine as it is now with a minimum of 7 NI starters as Cats commented below too.

Just increase the pool of players available to play to 46 and number of maximum DI's to 5 and groom some Canadians at QB.

Why would you want to groom a Canadian QB?
In the last couple of years there has been only one Canadian QB that has been good enough to compete at the CFL level, that is Sinopoli. Sinopoli has demonstrated that he can compete and he has beaten out import QBs to make that position. CIS QBs have never faced a NCAA defence, which is bigger, faster, stronger, better coached than a CIS defence. CFL teams don't have the time and money to develop Canadian QBs, if they are good enough then they will compete one and one and win the position.

But I do agree with you "the game is fine as it is now" That's why I said "when Ottawa enters the league you maintain roughly same number of Canadians as we do now" but we reduce the number of NI starters by 2 per team.
There are not enough good Canadian players coming out of the CIS to sustain 8 teams, it will be worse when we go to 9 teams. When Ottawa enters the league, too many "O" line position to fill.

Mikem this is why Canadian QBs have to be developed more as noted in these two other threads:

[url=]viewtopic.php?f=15&t=61509[/url] [url=]viewtopic.php?f=15&t=64791[/url]

There are simply not enough guys to groom at QB for the Canadian game South of the border either! We have a shortage down here for the NFL game as it is, and most of the guys who don't make the cut down here suck too anyway. Some may have been stars in college largely due to athleticism, but otherwise they suck at the pro level and have nothing more than perhaps a strong arm.

It is in everyone's best interest for the program to groom Canadians to be developed however long it takes. They are out there, but they don't have the same chances for development yet as do our guys down here.

Do not confuse such a program with merely allowing a QB to play just because he's Canadian as too many seem to think it is. Your roster spot at QB has to be earned in the CFL or any league. There is no QB tokenism.

I don't agree with increasing the active rosters to 46, or increasing the number of imports or decreasing the number of non-imports. 7 starting positions designated for Canadians should be the minimum but with QB's now included in the ratio.

42 active players is more than enough. As it is, the Canadian backup players rarely get to play on offence or defence, as teams have so many designated imports available.

I suggested increasing the non-imports to 21 and reducing imports to 21 (from 22 currently). If teams dress a Canadian QB, they would have a D.I. as backup in another position. If the Canadian QB is the starter, they could start a backup import in another position. If the Canadian QB is removed from the game and replaced by an American, then 1 American starter in another position must be benched and another Canadian starter added. There should be a provision where the starting Canadian QB could be replaced by an American on 3rd down (to facilitate a short-yardage play) without affected the ratio, as long as the Canadian QB was re-inserted as starter on the next offensive play.

Note that mikem consistently misuses the term "starters". What he's talking about here is total roster spots, which is currently 20 non-imports per team (42 minus 3 QBs minus 19 imports).

While I would rather not reduce this from the current level, I can see his point about reducing the number of imports on each team's roster when Ottawa joins the league. His suggestion would leave around the same number of non-imports across the league as there are now, going from 160 (20 spots x 8 teams) to 162 (18 spots x 9 teams).

I am mostly in agreement with Cats’ prior recommendation but in disagreement with Xvys’ recommendation though he did a very good job again of making his point.

Only 42 players available however you slice it presents more of the same as we have now with far too many guys not able to play or cut and thus not able to either contribute to their teams or the league in general.

Only 42 players is the main reason that teams are even forced to consider difficult decisions at positions like RB and LB for example.

If overall play does not continue to improve including also due to this silly limitation at this point, the league won’t grow I promise you.

Most of the audience loves the spectacle and the entertainment value of the game though of course the CFL need not be anything extreme like the NFL.

An example of going to the extreme is that absolutely awful Friday night football introduction on TSN and imitation of our awful Sunday night football introduction by Faith Hill down here. Lame butt suck comes to mind on those productions and both leagues went overboard not just the networks, for the leagues have to approve too.

This is exactly the scenario that resulted in the QBs being excluded from the import rule. Teams that started a non-import ended up having to either have a non-import backup QB, or use one of their DI spots for their backup import QB. And then they had to shuffle their lineup if their starting QB was injured. Few teams were willing to do this, so they started to avoid Canadian QBs.

With any other position, teams always carry at least one non-import backup whether they start a non-import. But with the limited number of qualified non-import QBs, this isn't feasible. This is why the exception exists, and why I support that exception. But only as far as the starter count; as stated before, I think QBs should be included in the total roster count.

Both the CFL, Management, and the CFLPA seem very happy with the way the roster and ratio is at present time so I do not see any of the massive changes that have been suggested. The CFL has never looked better as an on field product so I would not expect much to change. Excluding the QBs from the Ratio ensures that teams do not take advantage and have a NIqb just to take up space but never to play. If QBs were to be part of the ratio teams may have a Canadian QB as 3rd stringer on roster but will hide the real third stringer on the IR.
Expanding the roster will most likely happen but not for the reasons stated. You may see the rosters expanded to 47 with 43 dressing. Reason being so that teams may be able to carry both a punter and a kicker to the roster instead of one plyer to do both to save roster space. This will be an improvement to on field play as the position are specialized at the college level so usually the punting suffers. There are plenty of really good Canadian Kickers and punters so I would encourage making it 21 NI's and still 19 imports. With the same starting ratio rules.
Most likely if they do expand the roster it will be by two however so it would be 48 man roster to include 44 dressing with the 4 healthy scratches. 21 NI's 20 imports 4 DI imports and separate players to punt and kick.
Another option that will keep rosters the same would be to keep the 46 man roster allowing 43 dressing for games which would be a mandated separate players to punt and Kick Upping the game day roster to 21 NI's 19 imports 3 QB's and three healthy scratches.
PRACTICE ROSTER: PR will be expanded to 8 players. Currently they are at 7 witch mandates ant least two be NI's. The 8th Practice roster spot will be designated for a NI QB. This is where teams will now have an official mandated spot on the teams payroll in which to develop Canadian QB's. The CFL can do nothing about the level of play in the CIS and Canadian QBs playing in the CIS will continue to be behind their NCAA import counterparts. The CFL however can designate a spot on a teams payroll where they can do something about developing Canadian QB's. allowing teams to carry NI QB's on the TC roster as non counters for eligible players was the 1st step. The second step would alow one of them to stay with the teams for the season as a practice player where they can attend QB meeting and film sessions, practice against pro level players, and even run scout teams to get snaps in practice going agaisnst 1st team defenses.
There isn't currently enough money under the cap to pay the players they have now there just worth. hense many are asked to take unfair pay cuts or are released orten leaving fans without those recognized names.
46 or 47 man rosters 21 NI's 19 imports and 3 QBs. 43 man game day roster with the 43 spot being a seperate player to do either punting or kicking. This is a position where the CFL is truly not always placing the best player on the team.
Practice rosters from 7 to 8. mandatory 2 non imports and one NI QB.
If teams want to carry more players they can continue to hide them on the IR list each week with their salary counting towards the cap. This will give the team a choice to carry more players at lower salaries or carry less players with very few on the one game IR for injury only and pay the players on the roster their worth.
Salary Cap will go up with the most likely much more revenue for each team from the TV deal. TSN signed that deal 6or 7 yrs ago and since then the TV ratings have more than doubled. The CFL should seek to raise each teams share of the Revenue pie to at least 2.8 million up from the current 1.8 million and this should go by the number of teams so if their is an expansion team the TV revenue would continue to be the same for each team 2.8 million due to the fact that their will be more games aired with more teams

This is why I suggest leaving the third QB as a special case, just as it is now. I don't think teams would dress an unqualified player as their second string QB, as he would be likely to hit the field at some point, if only on short yardage plays.

And the league has indicated that they are supportive of developing Canadian QBs. So I wouldn't be surprised if they wee pushing for rule changes to help there. The CFLPA's objection to including the QBs in the import count seems to be based on the idea that non-playing clipboard-holding QBs would end up replacing other Canadian players. If that objection can be eliminated, and I think my suggested change does that, then maybe the CFLPA would accept the change.

Maybe not out of the question.

I have seen some complaints of player recognition. We occassionally see player moves because of the import rule rather than a players performance. I would like to see an exception in the import rule. Allow a non Canadian to be designated as a NI if he has played a specific number of consecutive seasons with the same team. Five years would be a good place to start the discussion. The number of these types of NI's could be limited if it became apparent that too many Canadian positions were being affected but I doubt that would happen. If a player changed teams he would revert to import status until spending the required 5 seasons with his new team. Example;

Ricky Ray joined the Esks in 2002 so he would have been designated as an NI starting with the 2008 season, but this year would be an import with the Argos.

The numbers are flexible, the idea is to encourage teams to keep star players. Somewhat like a franchise player in a salary cap system.

Agreed, although I have a few suggestions (of course :wink: ).

An import player would be considered a marquee import after seven continuous years in the league (head off to try out in the NFL and you start over), or five continuous years with the same team. That would make star imports more valuable to the team they've been playing for, maybe discouraging teams from trading or cutting them.

Decrease the number of regular imports allowed on the roster from 19 to 18, and then allow them to have an additional 3 marquee imports. So a team could consist of:

  • 3 QBs, import or non-import;
  • 18 imports;
  • 3 marquee imports;
  • 18 non-imports.

Introduce this new category when Ottawa joins the league so the total number of non-imports across the league stays at the same level it is now.

I'm trying to decide whether the marquee imports would need to be considered as imports or not for the starting lineup. I think so, but not sure.

Number of years is open for debate, but I want to clarify that consecutive seasons would mean CFL seasons not the players seasons. Therefore skip a year to try the NFL and you start over. Not to punish guy who try the NFL (who can blame them) but to reward the players that stay with one team.

you do NOT change NI ratio #'s. never.

keep it the same.