First overall pick in 2017 CFL draft gets healthy raise

First overall pick Faith Ekakitie will make $88,000 in “guaranteed money” this season, a jump of more than $10,000 over last year’s top selection.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers made the University of Iowa defensive tackle the top pick in the 2017 CFL Draft on May 7 and promptly signed him to a three-year contract. This season he’ll receive a $23,000 signing bonus, $53,000 in base salary and a $12,000 housing allowance. There’s also $13,500 available in playtime bonuses and standard all-star and outstanding player incentives which could push his total compensation to more than $100,000.

In 2018, Ekakitie’s base salary jumps to $62,000, with Feb. 15 roster bonus of $13,000, a $10,000 bonus for reporting to training camp and passing his physical, another $12,000 in housing and $18,000 in potential playtime money available. 2019 includes $70,000 base, $27,000 in possible playtime cash and similar roster bonus, report and pass and housing amounts.

Ekakitie’s contract features a 14 per cent jump in guaranteed money from the $77,000 offensive lineman Josiah St. John received as the first overall pick from the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2016 – a deal that only came together after a lengthy holdout. Redblacks offensive lineman Alex Mateas received more than $80,000 in guaranteed money after Ottawa took him first overall in 2015.

Ekakitie is expected to compete for a starting defensive tackle position and if he earns that job the 24-year-old could have a chance to earn all of his playtime money.

The CFL salary cap for this season is $5,150,000, up $50,000 from last year – an increase of less than one per cent.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.