How the CFL is screwing over Canadian quarterbacks (and how it could stop)

If there are three things football fans in this country can get behind they are Grey Cup Sunday, cold beer, and the prospect of a Canadian quarterback becoming a starter in the CFL.

Two of these things are firmly embedded in the fabric of Canadian football. The third — not so much.

The CFL currently does nothing to incentivize teams to carry a Canadian quarterback. In fact, the league actively disincentivizes clubs from employing a national pivot under its current roster rules.

This year’s CFL combine was paired with the inaugural Mark’s CFL Week in Regina and the results were overwhelmingly positive. Bringing current and future CFL players together in an intimate environment allowed for fans and media to gain access to players and personnel people from around the league, generating a ton of stories, news, and buzz on social media.

The issue is that the players who partake in the combine are virtually all nameless faces to most fans.

Regina product Jeremy Zver was cheered by the locals during the offensive/defensive line one-on-ones, while local boy Mitchell Picton got a similar response from the crowd during the receiving drills. Polite applause with a smattering of hoots and hollers — a solid showing of support, but nothing that blew the lid off of Evraz Place.

That all changed when Noah Picton hit the field. Picton, still a junior at Regina, is the starting quarterback of the Rams. Tossing balls to cousin Mitchell, Noah won the 2016 Hec Creighton Trophy as U Sports’ Most Valuable Player after a campaign that saw him break Andrew Buckley’s record for most all-time single-season passing yardage (3,186). Picton isn’t eligible for this year’s draft, but participated in the combine’s receiving drills to provide an extra arm. With all due respect to eligible draftees Sam Caron (Montreal) and Asher Hastings (McMaster), Picton was by far the best passer on the day.

Picton’s got a lot to prove before he joins Buckley in the CFL. Buckley, the former Dino, will enter the 2017 CFL season with a chance to become Bo Levi Mitchell’s primary back-up following the trade of Drew Tate to Ottawa back in February. Picton’s size is suspect (he’s listed at 5’9, but is actually closer to 5’7) and there’s no understating the difference in game speed between U Sports and the CFL. Still, the Regina native deserves a shot to play professionally in Canada.

And the CFL would be insane to not want him to get a shot at the pro level. Picton is beloved in Regina — he’s the closest thing the Queen City has to a prodigal athlete like Sidney Crosby or LeBron James — and he plays the game’s most important position. It also doesn’t hurt that the kid is charismatic and bears a striking resemblance to pop sensation Harry Styles. He has superstar written all over him.

Quarterbacks sell. They are the game’s biggest stars, hands down. As long the top prospects at the CFL combine are 300-pound offensive linemen (and I’m speaking as both a former offensive lineman and admitted draft junkie), the event will never be a must-see spectacle for most CFL fans. If you want to elevate the profile of the combine and capture the imagination of football fans, quarterbacks have to form a reasonable part of the equation as they do south of the border.

For that to happen, the league needs to stop disincentivizing teams from carrying Canadian quarterbacks. How is the CFL preventing Canadian pivots from being on even footing with their American counterparts? Allow me to explain.

Back in 1969 (yes, the CFL governs its roster regulations by a fifty-year-old rule) there grew concern that teams weren’t doing enough to develop quarterbacks. Pivots — virtually all of whom were U.S.-born — were being traded across the country en masse every off-season, largely due to the overabundance of American pivots interested in coming north (this was back when the CFL could compete with NFL salaries, along with providing better off-hour and off-season job opportunities). Teams were unable to carry more than one quarterback at the time, meaning that acquiring a new passer would require trading or cutting the incumbent unless he was able and willing to play another position.

Much was proposed in the way of rule changes to allow for teams to carry a back-up quarterback. Finally, a proposal put forth by Winnipeg was approved with a 7-2 vote. The proposal allowed teams to a) dress a maximum of 14 imports (ie. Americans), one of whom could only enter the game if the player he replaced was no longer going to play or b) dress a maximum of 14 imports with two strictly designated as quarterbacks.

Finally, CFL teams could carry two quarterbacks without one having to play a second position, significantly limiting his development.

(For more information about the history of the CFL, check out Frank Cosentino’s excellent book A Passing Game: A History of the CFL.)

This tradition of designating quarterbacks as a separate category on CFL rosters continues today. Since rosters were expanded as part of the new CBA in 2014 teams are required to dress 44 players for every game: 21 nationals (ie. non-imports or Canadians); 20 internationals (imports or Americans); and three quarterbacks.

Teams that dress Canadian quarterbacks — and there are currently only two: Calgary (Andrew Buckley) and Saskatchewan (Brandon Bridge) — get no roster benefit in doing so. Dressing Canadians at any other position benefits teams by allowing them to allocate international roster spots elsewhere. Dressing a Canadian quarterback doesn’t benefit teams because quarterbacks are not considered nationals or internationals due to the origin of the league’s roster rules outlined above.

Some pundits have suggested making it mandatory for all nine CFL teams to carry a Canadian quarterback in past years, creating a new roster spot specifically for national passers. In my opinion, this would be an unnecessary over-correction. Canadian quarterbacks shouldn’t be forced upon teams, especially considering that there aren’t nine national pivots available today who could realistically play in the CFL.

I’d suggest that fixing the league’s roster problem is as simple as eliminating the separate designation for quarterbacks. Canadian pivots should count as nationals and American pivots should count as internationals. It’s not a complex solution.

Instead of teams fielding 21 nationals, 20 internationals, and three quarterbacks, teams should field 22 nationals and 22 internationals regardless of position. This would make clubs like Calgary and Saskatchewan eligible to dress an extra American player because of their use of a Canadian quarterback.

Many teams would continue to dress three international quarterbacks, sure. But who’s to say that, under this proposed rule change, there wouldn’t be a small handful of Canadian pivots to stick on CFL rosters who otherwise would have gone overlooked? Suddenly there would be an incentive for teams to draft, sign, and develop Canadian quarterbacks. Under the current system, no such incentive exists.

Some will suggest that Canadian quarterbacks, particularly those who are the product of U Sports programs, will never be able to compete at the CFL level.

I disagree.

The CFL has all-star caliber players at running back (Andrew Harris, Jerome Messam), receiver (Brad Sinopoli, Andy Fantuz), offensive tackle (Chris Van Zeyl, Dan Federkeil), defensive tackle (Zack Evans, Ted Laurent), defensive end (Jamaal Westerman, Connor Williams), linebacker (Alex Singleton, Cory Greenwood), and safety (Taylor Loffler, Craig Butler). Of the 14 players listed here, just five are the products of NCAA football programs. The rest starred in the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) or U Sports prior to joining the CFL.

The CFL will never be a league that features nine starting Canadian quarterbacks, nor does it have to. It’s already been proven that a small handful of national players from a diverse number of post-secondary football backgrounds can become CFL stars at any position that is traditionally reserved for American players. There’s no reason to believe why — with a tweak to the CFL’s roster rules — that Canadians won’t also prove that they can also play quarterback.

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.
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John Hodge
About John Hodge (255 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.

52 Comments on How the CFL is screwing over Canadian quarterbacks (and how it could stop)

  1. Rule change, fine. Still, the prospect of Canadian QBs in the league (beyond, perhaps, one or two at any given time) is remote (and, I think, it doesn’t really bother fans a whole lot).

  2. West Hill Wide Out // April 8, 2017 at 10:25 am //

    The CFL needs Canadian quaterbacks to continue growing and to truly connect with fans. In fact, this is an issue that should be a priority in league meetings including future contract negotiations. Every team should be required to carry a Canadian QB. Why has this not been dealt with before now is the pressing question.

    • As John Hodge said you can’t mandate that every team carry a Canadian qb. That would never work as there aren’t 9 who are good enough to make a CFL roster. However, the rule change would benefit the quarterbacks who could. That’s what he’s talking about. Not making it mandatory every CIS qb gets drafted & makes a CFL team.

    • I think most of us realize that the best players come out of the NCAA. If you have played in the NCAA you have played at the top level.
      A CIS QB has never faced a NCAA or ex-NFL defense. We can drag out passing stats and rushing stat for CIS QBs but it doesn’t mean a lot if these QBs haven’t faced the BIGGER, FASTER, STRONGER, better coached, full time NCAA defenses.
      The CIS QB is in for a real shock when they face ex-NCAA or ex-NFLers.
      No let them compete and the best QB makes the team. The QB position is one position you do NOT want to designate as a starting national position.

      • True they haven’t faced defenses like Alabama or Florida but let them develop on a CFL roster & see what happens. Is it any worse than som D3 qb from Upper Louisiana Bayou University who hasn’t got a fricking clue about three down football?

      • This article is ridiculous. Why would it be up to the CFL to incentivize teams to have Canadian quarterbacks? It is the one position on the football field where the talent gap between Canadian and American is significant. So much so that Canadian QBS aren’t even in the same hemisphere.

        And also if I’m a team, why do I want to take on an extra body, extra salary, etc to make up for a lack of development at the amateur level?

        • GoCats! // April 9, 2017 at 3:17 pm //

          The flip side of the coin is why is the CFL making it difficult?

          Yes, Sinopoli is an all star receiver but he starred in university as a QB.

      • GoCats! // April 9, 2017 at 3:14 pm //

        Odd … I can recall CIS teams playing NCAA teams, where for a least two years, the CIS team didn’t lose to the NCAA team.

        Then too, you do realise that Simon Fraser in BC *is* a NCAA team?

  3. The cfl has dropped the ball for as long as I can remember when dealing with promoting its players… Canadian players are more relevant for Canadian fans- plain and simple! Figure it out CFL! The strategy used as of now really hasn’t worked out too well- time for a change in marketing and begin profiling Canadians ! Nothing to lose IMO

    • TigersCoach // April 8, 2017 at 1:39 pm //

      We like to believe that a Canadian players are more important to Canadian fans, but that’s likely not true. Look around the stadiums at the names on the jerseys the fans are wearing and it’s predominantly American players. I know I’ve bought a Tasker and Lawrence jersey recently; both Americans. When I look around the stadium I’m definitely in the majority.

      If you’re the Cory I think you might be, didn’t you but a Chad Owens jersey last year? If you’re not, sorry ’bout that!

      • cory bymoen // April 9, 2017 at 9:22 am //

        haha no thats not me…i live in b.c. and the only cfl fans i see are “relics” in my community of 100,000 people… i think the only time i saw the majority of my friends follow the cfl in any manner was when a member of the community was playing for Montreal-otherwise most of them follow the nfl…i realize this may not be true across the country but it certainly resonates here (kamloops) and, i would think, in many other communities…

  4. Lorne Goldenberg // April 8, 2017 at 11:12 am //

    It’s called Canadian racism in the CFL. This happens at other positions also and is talked about internally in dressing rooms all over the league. Unfortunately it’s a fact of the CFL and will not ever be changing soon. The only hope is for more Canadian coaches and general managers who recognize the skill level of U sports players and when given the fair opportunity can compete.

  5. TigersCoach // April 8, 2017 at 11:27 am //

    CFL teams need great QBs regardless of passport. I believe that this proposed rule change would do little to nothing to actually develop CDN QBs. Instead, I believe that all 9 teams would put a CDN in the 3rd QB spot on the game day roster only to allow them to dress 1 add’l US player elsewhere.

    If a team actually has to use the 3rd QB in a game they’re pretty certain to have lost the game. I’m the event QB1 or QB2 gets hurt a US QB from the practice squad or IR would leapfrog the CDN QB leaving the CDN in the 3rd spot forever. No development. At least no movement up the depth chart.

    Ultimately all this does is reduce the number of CDN players actually playing the game by 1. Example, If you put this rule in place today, the 2 teams that already have CDN QBs on their game day roster would likely dress 1 less CDN elsewhere.

    I would love to see a successful CDN QB in the league, but I want him there because he’s a quality QB (as is the case today), not for marketing, and not as a space filler.

  6. I don’t think it should be remote, Frank. Quarterback is the one position where mental ability trumps physical ability hands down. Yes, you have to be able to make the throws, but the most important aspects of quarterbacking are the processing of information, decision making and the ability to maintain poise under stress. What you’re basically saying (and CFL teams, by extension) in stating that Canadians have a remote chance of playing QB in the CFL, is that Canadians aren’t as smart as Americans, and that’s just not so.

    Scouts don’t know how to scout quarterbacks, because there are no key measurables to define information processing, decision making and poise. So they fall back on player height, how far they can throw, wins-in-college, and in the case of the CFL, “Everybody knows Americans QBs are way better than Canadian QBs”. It’s laziness.

    Although it’s an NFL story, Joe Montana, one of the best Quarterbacks of all time, wasn’t drafted until the third round, eighty-second overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1979 draft, because the scouts said he had unremarkable size, average arm strength and average-at-best mobility. We all know how that turned out. Scouts have to find a way to effectively determine mental abilities. Until then, Canadian QBs and good American ones too, are going to get passed over due to a dogmatic and ineffective scouting process.

    Lastly, I would argue that Canadian Quarterbacks are of importance to CFL fans. They are the face of the franchise, and having undrafted NCAA products and NFL retreads as what everyone sees as leading the local teams does not energize the fan base as having a local product or at least a homegrown kid becoming the flag bearer for the team. Appearances count for a lot.

    • mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 12:13 pm //

      I appreciate what you are saying Brockleigh but the fact is most US QBs practically grow up with a football in their hands and have excellent coaching from an early age. Not the case with most Canadians. That’s the biggest difference

  7. mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 11:33 am //

    Good story John. I’ve thought about this before. Good in theory but IMO it’s flawed.
    The QB position is perhaps the most important position in sports and as fans of our respective teams we all know how hard it is to find the “keepers”.
    By allowing QB position to count against ratio and having 22 import and 22 Canadians you turn the 3 string into a token Canadian spot and lower the overall quality of the position.
    I will use the stamps as an example. If this arrangement existed in 1998 Calgary would have had Jeff Garcia as starter Dave Dickenson as backup and some lesser CIS Allstar as the 3rd stringer. There would have been no room for a young prospect named Henry Burris. In 2012/2013 behind starters Drew Tate and backup Kevin Glenn there would have been no position for Bo Levi Mitchell.
    Overall Canadian talent has been increasing steeply in the last decade but as stated in the article there simply are not enough Canadian QBs that can realistically play at the CFL level. In fact even the best of the best (ie. Sinopoli) who are categorized as “experiments” have proven to be marginal at best.
    I think a better/stricter incentive is to allow any starting Canadian QB to count as one of the 21 and to count as 2 of 7 Canadian starters.

    • Stephen Fisher // April 8, 2017 at 4:02 pm //

      If he is 2 of 7, how do you substitute?

      • mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 5:07 pm //

        If the starter is hurt or benched teams would have to be prepared to start 2 addition Canadians so Canadian depth would still be very important (unless they are lucky enough to have Canadian backup too). Good point when you consider this. It would create challenges for sure. The bigger point to you point is maybe there is no true solution to this Canadian QB problem.

    • GoCats! // April 9, 2017 at 3:25 pm //

      Not sure we saw what Sinopoli could do and I seem to recall some of his American team mates saying as much.

      Then too – if the CIS QB’s are so bad, why is Simon Fraser in BC a NCAA school?

  8. mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 11:57 am //

    Although in this scenario there is nothing saying you have to have a Canadian QB I think it’s obvious that teams would inherently use the the 3 string position for this. As I stated above it would hurt overall QB quality and it would also hurt the significance and contributions to other Canadian positions

    • GoCats! // April 9, 2017 at 3:30 pm //

      Without trying it – how do we know?

      Then too, with most teams losing badly with a second QB, what difference is the 3rd stringer going to make?

      Given teams like Montreal or Winnipeg having what is supposedly a better system that is all american yet still struggling for years (at times giving the same guys additional years to fail) – I am not sure the QB quality would take the allged hit.

  9. I completely agree with changing the roster designation to level the playing field.

  10. Jim Sutherland // April 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm //

    A simple solution to a ridiculous rule that hinders the likelihood of a Canadian quarterback. Good idea that should have implemented years ago.

  11. Cuzzinator // April 8, 2017 at 1:31 pm //

    The biggest issue with this idea is the very thing your trying to use to make it work…., the ratio. Right now, the ratio is 1 QB, 16 Internationals and 7 Nationals for your starting 24. You can start more than 7 Canadians, but you have to have at least 7. If a National goes down, you either have to replace him with a National, or if not, remove one of your International starters and replace him with a National. That’s why most National Starters have a National Backup. So, if you want to add QBs to the ratio and you want to start a Canadian, you actually need 2, in case of injury. It’s hard enough to get 1 Canadian QB, never mind 2. Adding QB’s to the ratio will guarantee that a Canadian will have even less of a chance than they do now.
    You would be better off using financial incentives to bring along a Canadian QB. For example, you could create an 11th Practice roster spot specifically for Canadian QBs (the team doesn’t have to use it, but they can). This player’s salary is subsidized by the league and does not count towards any cap. If he makes the roster as 3rd String his salary doesn’t count, and can be spent elsewhere (there would need to be rules in place to prevent abuse of this). If he makes 2nd string, again his salary doesn’t count and the team gets say an additional 50% of his salary (up to a certain amount, to prevent over paying) added to their cap. And if he makes starter,His salary doesn’t count and they get a 100% bonus, again up to a certain amount. This would encourage their development on one hand, and help teams retain their veteran talent on the other. A win -win.

  12. Here is my perfect solution – IF you want to develop CDN QBs, you create a practice roster spot for them which would cost peanuts. Each team has 1 CDN QB at practice. After 3 seasons, if he can’t crack the main roster, he is out and you bring in someone else for a max of 3 years. Eventually, some teams will see homegrown guys crack the active roster. Maybe then , top athletes like Sinopoli don’t change positions because they know there is a spot for them to develop for a couple of years. Those years may be the time they need to get ready for the spotlight.

    • mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 3:54 pm //

      Sinopli (and some others) have been given a few years to prove themselves and haven’t. In fact after Sinopoli was converted to receiver he wasn’t even Calgary’s emergency QB. Keon Raymond was.
      Furthermore placing someone on a practice roster does little to help them develop. Only game experience does.

      • Lorne Goldenberg // April 8, 2017 at 4:15 pm //

        Funny thing about Sinopoli though is that he had better stats in the scrimmages leading up to the season before he turned into a receiver, than the other quarterbacks. Not really given the fair and open minded chance.

        • mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 5:47 pm //

          Good point but stats can be deceiving

        • Throw in that Sinopli had one year as 3rd stringer where some really bad QBs were given many years in comparison. In some cases, they went from one teams 3rd string to another team’s 3rd string before eventually washing out.

          Sinopli’s second year is deceiving as he was released then brought back twice, due to injury.

          Meanwhile a “better” American QB who is starting is posting 50%, 58% and 43% completion ratings.

      • Can you fill me in on the “a few years” that Sinoplil given as QB?

        Last I heard, he was drafted in 2011, spent that year as 3rd string QB. Before the start of the 2012 season, he was *released*.

        Two injuries to Tate in 2012 brought him back as 3rd string QB.

        The 2013 season saw his debut as wide receiver.

  13. Solara2000 // April 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm //

    Build upon their exposure time in CFL training camps – why not add them to the Practice Roster? Let them get some exposure to continue to enhance their skills and ability to play this most critical position.
    Logic simply defies that a Canadian or two can’t play at the CFL level. Not to disrespect any of the individuals who are part of the endless litany of U.S. QBs who are literally filling a spot based on their citizenship and press releases.

  14. lorne goldenberg // April 8, 2017 at 1:55 pm //

    Another idea…maybe these Canadian QB’s should just try and get an NFL look, at least there they will be given an open minded set of eyes, if the talent is there..

  15. the paw // April 8, 2017 at 2:12 pm //

    if you make this rule change, what will happen is that every team will convert their #3 QB roster position to a new one – Canadian Clipboard Holder. the teams will use the extra import as a DB, LB or returner. The real #3 will sit on the practice roster waiting for an injury and will still get practice reps ahead of the Clipboard Holder (who will never see the field).

    There is no disincentive to Cdn QBs on the roster, just a lack of the incentive that exists for other positions. That sounds like semantics, but it underlines the main point – we only get a Cdn QB who can make a CFL roster on merits once every decade or so. Changing the rules doesn’t change that reality.

    • mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 4:02 pm //

      The fact is there probably are occasional Canadian QB’s that could eventually be of pro calibre. Unfortunately their American counterparts are far more advanced out of college than they are. This means teams would rather work with the imports than use their limited resources and spend the extra time to work with the Canadians

  16. I’m not sure Cdn QB’s are of much importance to fans. I would argue that more fans know the names of US college QB’s than they do QB’s in Cdn universities. There’s virtually no exposure to the Canadian game on any media. Noah Picton may have shone @ the combine & be the reigning MVP but how many outside of Saskatchewan know who he is? Quick who was the Defensive MVP this year? How many in Edmonton know the Golden Bears’ QB on 1 of the more unsuccessful teams in university ball? These players have to be promoted before they get to the combines. I’d be surprised if a lot of CFL fans could name which teams played in the Vanier Cup beyond possibly this year, never mind the QB’s on those teams. Sadly I have to agree with those who say very few people care. Brandon Bridge has been lost in the conversation with Vince Young & Rider fans could care less if he starts a game if Young (or Glenn) is going to win for them.

    • GoCats! // April 9, 2017 at 3:39 pm //

      I agree that there’s not enough exposure but no exposure “on any media”?

      I have been watching CIS games *every week* of the season then playoffs for years. I still can.

      How many know that Simon Fraser is an NCAA school?

  17. If you watch the football junior national team and u 19, u 18 etc. Canadian teams and
    qb’s often compare well with us counterparts.

  18. Jon, I like your proposal as far as it goes. It removes the disincentive. I would go a step further and create an incentive. While the Canadian is on the field in the quarterback position, he should count as two nationals. This would permit the use of two extra imports on the offence. But the incentive would only operate if the kid was on the field. It wouldn’t apply if he was standing on the sidelines with a clipboard. I would also exempt the kids salary from the salary cap.
    When you substituted the Canadian kid for the American quarterback, he would be walking on the field with two imports on the OL or as receivers. The team that finds the next Russ Jackson would have a powerful advantage.

    • mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 5:41 pm //

      That’s what I proposed above. It would be a challenge to find 2 addition Canadians when that Canadian QB is out of the game and teams would need to have as much Canadian talent/depth as ever. When that Canadian QB is in the game it could be definite advantage but is it worth having a Canadian behind center knowing you will have to adjust your roster so much if he’s not playing? Further more what if you have injuries to one or both of these 2 added Canadians? Could be a slippery slope

  19. mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 5:58 pm //

    Good points by all but after reading them all again (including my own) its seems the below 3 pronged approach is the true solution in finding Canadian QBs
    1)-Increase the quality and depth of grass roots football
    2)-Increase the interest of youth and their parents to play football vs hockey or soccer.
    3)- Increase Canadian population 10 times

    • GoCats! // April 9, 2017 at 3:41 pm //

      You’d also have to figure out a way to keep those with talent for playing for US schools, with their bigger budgets and many position coaches.

  20. Canadian QBs are getting better and better. Just watch CIS and you can see the high calibre play at the position. Young players in Canada are getting more and better coaching at the position than the past generation. There is just more opportunities for young QBs to develop now than there used to be. I would love to see incentive for CFL clubs to keep a Canadian at the position and really hope too see less Canadian kids being forced to switch to WR, FB or Safety in order to be employed in the CFL. Very much hope Buckley continues to improve and get some reps on game day as he is proof that a Canadian born and CIS trained QB can play in the CFL.

    • mrnehnehincognito // April 8, 2017 at 9:16 pm //

      Big Gus. You’ll probably know.
      Greg Vavra
      Bob Torrance
      Andrew Buckley
      All former Dinos who played for Stamps. However there was 1 more. We converted him to safety.Played in the early 2000s I believe. Do you remember his name? I can’t.

  21. rogieshan // April 8, 2017 at 10:49 pm //

    I feel the league should at least consider mandating a practice roster spot be reserved for a Canadian QB during the season. Every team carries a 4th – sometimes even a 5th – QB already as it is, so why not simply create the rule to ensure there is an opportunity for development of homegrown talent at the position. Not saying it’s the ultimate solution, but it would be a start.

  22. Unless Canadian football starts developing players at an earlier age, better coaching, more games per season. More off season training and better facilities Canadian QBS will NEVER EVER be on the same level as NCAA QBS.

    We are so far behind our American colleges and minor football programs that it will take years and years to get even close.

  23. Anthony // April 9, 2017 at 6:18 am //

    While the story may not apply to many Canadian QB’s if I’m the Argos I’d rather have Brandon Bridge on my team rather than Drew Willy. And yes 1 reason is the potential mktg of a local boy.

  24. mrnehnehincognito // April 9, 2017 at 10:28 am //

    So what was the difference between Russ Jackson and guys like Brad Sinopoli, Brandon Bridge, Chris Flynn, Jesse Palmer etc etc.?

    • Interesting question … one complication is that Jackson was signed as a defensive back, not as a QB.

      Palmer is the easy one to answer – coming from the NFL and asking to be the highest player in the league with no CFL experience usually doesn’t work that well. It didn’t help when the 49’s signed him or when the higher paying broadcasting gig came up.

  25. Great pro players from Canada – NHL – say no more, MLB in the Hall of Fame and thru out baseball over the years, NBA – getting better every year, NFL – they take the best of the best when given the chance. Regardless of position a pro is a pro. With the OPPORTUNITY and TIME to DEVELOP any number of CIS or NCAA QBs from Canada could of and should of been playing in the CFL over the course of time. Simple as that!!

  26. OldBaldGuy // April 9, 2017 at 11:42 am //

    Here’s the difference. High Schools in the US employ coaches who dedicate all of their professional time to coaching, rather than an after work kind of thing. I considered myself to be a pretty good high school coach and won provincial championships along the way. But…if I were allowed to coach full time, and use my time to fully develop a young QB, the difference would be phenomenal. You get your pro QBs starting at the high school level or earlier. Commenters are right about being able to process a game. That is an acquired skill that comes through reps and coaching. Americans have better talent? No. Americans have a better system for coaching, though.

  27. If you change the rule as proposed, you would need to increase the cap as well. Canadians are always paid more than Americans, because they’re scarce, and an artificial incentive to hire another Canadian will bid up the price of those good enough to be third stringers. The risk is that some won’t really be good enough, but for the third spot that’s probably okay.

  28. Russ- believe me, Canada is catching up in terms of player development. From a very early age, kids as young as three and four can play flag football, often run by CFL players. There are year round camps and clinics provided by ex players, current players, companies and CIS coaches and players. In many provinces, there is spring league football. A young player in Canada today can get just as much experience as the average American. Granted, we probably have to pay more for these camps, etc. More games is not plausible. Football Canada will soon have a maximum number of games that high school players and younger will be limited to per season. Obviously player safety is an issue. In my opinion, Canadians are probably still lagging behind the Americans in terms of speed, agility and weight training in young athletes. Although we are definitely improving in that area as well. Russ- it is not the nineteies – trust me- Canadians are closing the gap. By no means are we taking over gridiron from the yanks but Watch some of the international bowl games. Our boys compete .pretty well

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