How much former CFL players are getting paid in the NFL

The NFL calendar rolled over on March 9, finalizing all player signings made ahead of the 2017 regular season. As such, the figures of all NFL contracts signed by former CFL players this off-season are now public knowledge.

The most important figure in these deals is the signing bonus (or “guaranteed money”) included in each contract. Like in the CFL, signing bonuses count against the salary cap in the NFL even if the player in question is cut. As a general rule of thumb, players with higher signing bonuses are more likely to make their respective clubs when final cuts are made in early September.

The largest signing bonus ever paid out to a CFL player making the jump to the NFL was given to Cameron Wake by the Miami Dolphins in January of 2009, a four-year deal that included $1-million guaranteed.

All contract figures courtesy of Over The Cap.

DE/OLB Alex Bazzie — B.C. Lions/Indianapolis Colts

3 years, $550,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

LB Adam Bighill — B.C. Lions/New Orleans Saints

3 years, $550,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

DB Otha Foster — Saskatchewan Roughriders/Baltimore Ravens

1 year, $465,000 salary, $0 guaranteed

DB Anthony Gaitor — B.C. Lions/New Orleans Saints

1 year, $615,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

DB Forrest Hightower — Ottawa Redblacks/New Orleans Saints

3 years, $550,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

LB Jeff Knox Jr. — Saskatchewan Roughriders/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3 years, $550,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

LB Deon Lacey — Edmonton Eskimos/Miami Dolphins

3 years, $621,000 average salary, $200,000 guaranteed

P Richie Leone — B.C. Lions/Arizona Cardinals

3 years, $550,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

LB Boseko Lokombo — B.C. Lions/Baltimore Ravens

3 years, $550,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

KR Quincy McDuffie — Winnipeg Blue Bombers/Dallas Cowboys

2 years, $510,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

DB Jeff Richards — Ottawa Redblacks/Carolina Panthers

3 years, $550,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

WR Derel Walker — Edmonton Eskimos/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2 years, $560,000 average salary, $100,000 guaranteed

DB Mitchell White — Ottawa Redblacks/Philadelphia Eagles

2 years, $529,000 average salary, $17,500 guaranteed

OL Greg Van Roten — Toronto Argonauts/Jacksonville Jaguars

2 years, $660,000 average salary, $0 guaranteed

John Hodge

John Hodge

John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.
John Hodge
John Hodge
About John Hodge (378 Articles)
John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.

16 Comments on How much former CFL players are getting paid in the NFL

  1. So Lacey and Walker won’t be coming back

  2. That’s surprising. Only 2 of the 14 have substantial guarantees. I wonder how many of the remaining 12 will still be on NFL rosters come Labor Day? I guess as free agents these returning players could go to any team in the CFL.

  3. You forgot Brian Peters ex-Rider and current Texan. Average salary $525,000

  4. rogieshan // March 11, 2017 at 1:26 pm //

    I’m guessing those who received bonuses had more than one suitor bidding. Derek Dennis chose to return to CFL because he didn’t receive any guaranteed money.

  5. stampland // March 11, 2017 at 1:32 pm //

    I’m surprised. I though more would be guaranteed also though some based contracts would be higher.Of course must consider too this is US dollars vs Canadian dollars in CFL

  6. What about Jon Ryan?

    • This article is about players who signed this off-season from the CFL. Not guys who’ve been around the NFL for years.

  7. Some of these players are clearly camp fodder. For example, Gaitor wasn’t even one of the Lions best 5 DBs (Yell, Clarke, Lee, Edem, Stewart) and only say playing time because of injuries.

    The guarantees make it more likely that Walker and Lacey will stick. Also, given the Saints openness to CFL players, Hightower and Biggie will get a fair look. Biggie is a special football player and his ability to compete and make plays will stand out in camp and pre-season. I don’t see either of them coming back. The Colts have also been traditionally open to giving CFL players a fair shot but with Grigson gone … that may change. Also, if they stick with a 3-4, Bazzie’s undersized to be a DE. He needs to play off the edge but may stick.

    The only other one I see sticking is Leone. He’s a fantastic punter.

    • I think Bighill will be back (sadly for him)because Solomon E, who’s bigger, faster and has better stats didn’t stick when he tried NFL. Bazzie and Gator back too. Hopefully back to BC and some of that might play in to why wally is trying to trade Jovon O. He may figure he’ll need the cap room later to bid on Bighill etc.

  8. Rick cowan // March 11, 2017 at 2:36 pm //

    Has Cleon Lange signed anywhere yet.

  9. NFL’s cap is $167 million for the upcoming season. The signing bonuses for Lacey and Walker are still quite a tiny percentage of that (and still quite small compared to the available space of their respective teams), so may not be a big factor in their likelihood of making it. Though I do think both are talented enough to do so, even just as backups or on STs.

  10. Didn’t Rogers receive a higher bonus from the 49ers last year than anybody this offseason? Still, Walker should stick. Lacey also likely. The dark horse to make an NFL roster is McDuffie as a returner. Dude is fast. Obviously not a polished receiver but has a shot at landing a gig returning kicks. Colts need a ton of help in rushing the passer. Bazzie just might make it in Indy as he can get after the QB though he is undersized.

    • Chopper11 // March 13, 2017 at 3:16 pm //

      NFL teams don’t typically reserve a roster spot for purely a kick returner. So McDuffie will have to work his way on the team and show other things also…

  11. Phil Miller // March 11, 2017 at 8:09 pm //

    Please stop doing Ed Hervey’s work for him. 🙂 The other GMs have of course already had an assistant track this list on a spread sheet.

  12. Jim Fleck // March 11, 2017 at 10:50 pm //

    A lot of guys have played in both leagues if you actually review the rosters in both the CFL and NFL. This “NEW” group of players going south is a yearly ritual. If they are “GOOD ENOUGH” they will stick around in some capacity UNTIL someone better takes their spot. That is the name of the game in most if not all pro sport leagues. I read some time back about 20% of the guys going south stay in the NFL for 1 full season. Most will recycle back to the CFL in due time if they want to continue playing pro football. Wish the CFL was a 12 team league. Way too many “VERY GOOD” players don’t get the chance they deserve due to lack of job opportunities and quit the game because of this.

  13. Rick cowan // March 12, 2017 at 7:34 am //

    How about Frankie Beltre what is he making with the jets

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