Argos RB James Wilder Jr. issues statement, says he won’t play in 2018

Toronto Argonauts running back James Wilder Jr. says he won’t be returning to the club next season, despite being under contract for 2018.

The CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2017 issued a statement to 3DownNation on Wednesday which raises concerns over his compensation and the Argos’ unwillingness to let him pursue NFL opportunities.

“I wish it could be different. I don’t want to put my football dreams aside but as the father of four, playing for $56,000 Canadian (about $45,000 USD) without any protection from career-ending injury isn’t enough to give my family comfort,” Wilder wrote. “I’ve received expressions of interest from several NFL teams and I’ve reached out to the Argonauts on multiple occasions but have been told they won’t allow me to pursue those opportunities. They are also unwilling to re-negotiate my contract to reflect the value I believe I bring to the team.”

The six-foot-three, 232-pound Wilder Jr. ran for 872 yards (7.2-yard average) and five TDs in 17 games while adding 51 catches for 533 yards. He started six regular season games for Toronto in which the Argos went 5-1 and the double blue went 2-0 in the playoffs, including the Grey Cup victory.

Here’s the statement in full:

For a Q&A with Wilder on the reasoning behind his decision, click here.

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181 Comments on Argos RB James Wilder Jr. issues statement, says he won’t play in 2018

  1. Michael Kulyk // January 24, 2018 at 5:36 pm //

    wilder and argos are both wrong on this one – more pressure for popp to sign messam , now as the feature back which means a lot more touches , if wilder won’t play 2018

    • North of 49 // January 24, 2018 at 6:45 pm //

      Messam ain’t gonna sign for chump change. He’s over $200K. So why not give a super star like Wilder $130K
      If it wasn’t for Wilder in the East final. SK is heading to the Grey Cup.

    • Cody Fajardo should be Argos future starting QB PERIOD

      • Zack Levi-Wrangler Carter // January 25, 2018 at 3:40 am //

        LOL! Cody is lucky to be in the league. And your shouting it in upper case is not going to change this one bit.

  2. Stumps choke // January 24, 2018 at 5:37 pm //

    Wow. Good for him. Shows exactly how far the CFL has to go in some respects.

    • Wilder was waived from the Bills in 2016. He had no NFL offers. No one forced him to sign with the Argos. He could have tried to get on with another NFL team. He likely is getting interest because he got the playing time he did in Toronto. He signed a 2 year deal, honour your contract. He also would have received 23K from playoff money for being on the Grey Cup winning team.

    • A man who does not honor his word, contract or not, is a man without honor. Those that support this man are also without honor.

      • Those who anonymously tell strangers they have no honor aren’t fit to judge.

        • These are not my words. This is a quote from history. It is not about judgement,it is opinion. Opinion and judgement are two different things. Obviously I agree with the opinion.

          • That’s okay 4750…I dig..unlike some of these posters who probably think Sir Walter Scott is the name of some Scottish whiskey…LOL!

      • Fern Allary // January 24, 2018 at 11:59 pm //

        A man who does not do what is best for his family is without honour in my opinion. Ask Darian Durant about how contracts are adhered to then talk about honour. These contacts are bull$hit. I applaud the man for making a stand and doing what is best for his family. If that is dishonourable then I am okay being dishonourable.

        • True green // January 25, 2018 at 12:43 am //

          Amen. $56,000 is a joke. CFL should be ashamed that a player is asked to make the sacrifices they make for that kind of compensation.

          • The player AGREES to play for the salary on his contract (and, I take it, ‘for the love of the game’.

      • So any person that quits their job because it was not what they thought it would be are dishonorable??
        This happens all the time.
        He is one of the best players in the league and his employer says they can’t pay him more and he’s not allowed to play anywhere else.
        $45k a year?? he pays taxes in this country and he can not even claim any benefits like disability. If he gets injured he’s on his own the CFL provides no benefits.

        He is putting his family first – that is honorable good for him.

        • Anyone can quit their job, and Wilder is doing that, but people who quit their jobs are subject to a non-compete clause for a time period. He is currently facing this non-compete for a year. It’s a standard clause in almost all employment contracts. Nothing new.

      • This is one of the silliest, stupidest and unfounded comments of all time. Makes no sense – nonsense.

        • I am referring by nonsense to this comment by 4750:

          “A man who does not honor his word, contract or not, is a man without honor. Those that support this man are also without honor.”

  3. Labour favours teams in CFL. They can get get or bullied into renegotiation to prevent getting cut. Players have no power in reverse

  4. So he’s going to make $0 instead? Isn’t that a hell of a roll of the dice?

    • This situation is not really similar to that of Chris Williams about three years ago but Williams is ahead financially even though he spent just two years in the NFL.

    • oceanvista // January 24, 2018 at 5:59 pm //

      @ CC Rider. You’re assuming he won’t be doing anything in the USA in the 6 months he could be playing for the Argos, which I believe to be a false notion. He could do personal training down there which could make up a significant portion of the $45,000, and he doesn’t risk blowing out his knee or getting concussed

      This points to the biggest obstacle the league has among its critics (and trust me, there are many here in Vancouver and across the country). I know it comes down to economics, but our league just doesn’t pay enough to be taken seriously by the masses. It’s sad, but that is the criteria by which many gauge a sport as “major league.” This doesn’t enhance the image of the league in the country’s biggest market (that he is going to sit out the year because it’s just not worth the risk for his NFL options). Yikes.

      • Well, I’m assuming (since there was no mention of it) that right here, right now, he’s not doing anything. He might, as you suggest. He might also find that it’s a lot harder to balance a job, parenthood and training to NFL levels.

        I suppose it might not be different than juggling an NCAA student/athlete career.

      • That’s a strange comment. So in order for a league to be considered “real” you have to pay big money. Ok and then we the fans have to pay big money to see all these lazy athletes with guaranteed contracts. Look at hockey. Costs a fortune to go to a game to see a bunch of lazy millionaires who don’t give a shit because they have an eight year contract. That’s why I like the cfl. I can relate to the players. I think I may even get paid more than some. Think about it. Josh Donaldson is getting 23 million for one season. Are we on crack! The cfl pays what they can, the players don’t run the league. Wilder should play but if not see ya! Someone will love the experience.

    • Cal Gary's Secret BF // January 24, 2018 at 9:02 pm //

      He obviously go get a real job to pay the bills. $45,000 US is an entry level salary at alot of companies. That’s the point he’s making. He can keep himself in shape and wait a year while working for a living and take a shot at the NFL next season

      • That would probably be full-time work. And he expects to stay in NFL-level shape during that time? While literally hundreds of running backs become eligible and available in the time period?

        I can’t know more than he does, but I believe that the best way to stay in football shape it is to actually play football. Even if he has a specialized training, it would come at a cost.

        I’m sure there’s an aspect that I’m not seeing. Maybe he feels good that there’s enough interest that he’s just an injury away from being called in. But you have to acknowledge that there’s a risk involved.

    • Idk if they can get away with not paying him if they want to retain his rights and block him from going elsewhere.

      • In other words, to “keep” him they might have pay him wether he plays or not.

        • MoneyTeam // January 25, 2018 at 3:24 am //

          I believe if he is opting to sit out the season he doesnt get paid. Thought I saw that somewhere. Theyre not going to pay him (or any player) who isn’t playing.

          • Would think that without any money, the contract would be void.

          • MoneyTeam // January 25, 2018 at 3:42 am //

            My understanding of that is it’s in the contract that they can sit out for reasons a/b/c but they won’t get paid. I believe I heard this was in all player contracts. Almost like you’re voluntarily retiring.

      • The blew team simply has to put him on the “Suspended” list. He cannot play for any other team, and the NFL would have to honour the CFL contract, IIRC. The only way out of that is for him to be traded or released.

    • No, that’s not what he said.
      He stated in another article that he’s pursuing other business opportunities.

      • Well there is the ultimate goal of getting to the NFL … but so far, the business opportunity I can recall being mentioned is working construction in Dallas for six day a week, ten hours a day.

        Beyond those two … what has been mentioned?

  5. Even the NFL minimum is a better deal. It’s a no brainer. Shame on the Argos.

    • So the NFL minimum becomes the CFL minimum? Give your head a shake. There’s plenty of other RB’s to choose from if he’d rather do 10 hours days in construction.

      • At least in construction he would qualify for workers compensation if he gets injured.
        In the CFL you get zero compensation if you get injured.
        He would also stand to make a lot more money in construction or driving a truck.
        Or in his case he will probably be in the family clothing business.

    • He has a contract. Shame on the player

      • If teams can renegotiate the contract of a player who doesn’t meet their expectations, or release them, then it should work in visa versa as well. Why should someone who exceeded all expectations play the 2nd year of their contract at the same(minimum) salary?

        • MoneyTeam // January 25, 2018 at 3:07 am //

          In what universe do you (or anyone) walk into work and tell your boss that you feel you exceeded expectations after 6 months of work and ask for a raise? If you do, most bosses will tell you to screw off, its too soon for a raise. Certainly you’ll then leave said job and go somewhere else rather than continuing to show your worth/commitment. But you can’t, because 99% of employers have what’s called a “non-compete” and you won’t be able to work anywhere similar for a set amount of time. That’s whats happening here. He’s choosing to leave and sit out his non-compete for a year and not get paid or possibly work construction. No different than any other job when you sign an employee agreement.

          • Lots of people start a job at one wage and get a raise or renegotiate once they prove their worh. I’ got an $8/hr raise within 4 months of starting a job.
            When you’re a player who made a difference in whether your team even made the Grey Cup, never mind winning it, you deserve more money.

          • MoneyTeam // January 25, 2018 at 3:35 am //

            Sure, absolutely people get raises based on performance. But that’s at the employer’s discretion. If you’re hired at a certain wage, that’s your wage until you leave or get a raise. If your agreement says after a certain time you’ll get a raise then that’s your agreement.

            In the Argos’ case, they’re bound by a budget and have an agreement with the player. If they choose to not give him a raise they have all the power in the world to do that. As I said before, no different than any other job. Risk is player can leave (which he says he is doing) but player won’t get paid and is bound by non-compete.

          • Moneyteam. Just so you know, a non-compete against an employee in the circumstances that you describe is unenforceable. In what universe does an employee offered a 2x better salary not walk into his boss and say match it or I walk? And why is okay for the team to “renegotiate” the player down by threatening to cut the player, but it is not okay for a player to “renegotiate” up by threatening to walk. Why does this “honour” your word thing only work one way?

          • I am not a lawyer, but I would think a non-compete is in place for reasons exactly like this. You signed a contract on agreeable terms, you work for half your contract time and decide you deserve more money and when you don’t get it you leave and walk directly into the offices of your current employer’s direct competitor? I can understand if there is a breach of contract and you get the non-compete thrown out, but this is like the heart and soul of why non-compete agreements exist. Again, not a lawyer, could be wrong, if anyone who is can shed some light here.

            He is asking them to match it or he will walk, and he has chosen to walk. So yes we agree on that.

            People get laid off all the time bc they’re too expensive or no longer needed. Budgets and priorities change, so do employees. If you sign paperwork that says you can be let go at any point in time with no compensation then that’s the agreement you sign. Nobody forces anyone to sign those papers. In the case of pro sports in general, every single contract (minus those with guarantees) has that wording. Nothing new to the CFL.

            For clarity, I am not saying he doesn’t deserve to get paid more. I am just saying the guy signed the paperwork and his employer doesn’t want to pay him more than what they agreed on. We can’t all now sit back and say the contract is unfair etc.

      • So what?
        Every worker is allowed to quit their jobs aren’t they? It happens every day in this country.
        But for most of us we can quit and be allowed to seek employment somewhere else.
        He has decided that due to zero support if he gets injured, no workers comp, low pay that he will quit

        He has quit and going to do something else, good for him.

        • Yep, that’s exactly what he is doing. See my recent comment on your comment. Nobody is preventing him from seeking employment, but his employee agreement has a non-compete which is preventing him from seeking employment with a competitor. The NFL, in this case, is a direct competitor. He can go work construction no problem.

  6. Ouch! That’s pretty bad comp surely he can find other employment for more money without risking his health. Honestly these guys should not be making less than 100k considering how short a career can be in this sport. I guess We can expect Menzies to quash the rivals offer if this is the type of money these guys get.

    • He started his own business and he probably thinks it’s not worth coming north for $45k a year with zero benefits.

      This from a post in Tampa where he lives:
      “After helping the Seminoles to an undefeated run in 2014 he launched his own clothing line called I Am Wilder Apparel. To inquire about James Wilder Jr.’s availability and speaking fee, contact the agents at Athlete Speakers. Let our team of booking agents make a James Wilder Jr. appearance at your next event a reality.”

      • Okay … so that’s job #3.

        According to the Q&A, what’s paying the bills now is a construction job.

        Maybe this will grow to exceed the construction job … maybe it won’t.

  7. A contract is a contract. No one held a gun to his head when he signed it.

    • Gary. The league requires (or did require) all new player contracts to be one year plus a team option. That is abusive. So yes there was a gun to his head.

      • Tenseventeen // January 24, 2018 at 6:40 pm //

        How is that abusive? He still could have not signed if he didn’t like the dollar value. Without the 1+1, the CFL just becomes a combine for Americans.

        • Ten. Yeah but more quality players would come to the CFL if they did not impose. 1+1. If a contract is a contract why can the team cut the player at any time without compensation? CFL contracts are one way deals. Not fair. Let the kid go.

          • Maybe this version will avoid moderation.

            Where are the quality players preferring to go?
            The arena football league with it’s $31K minimum salary?

            While I agree about cutting the player to stop having to pay the salary … if you google, McNabb after being traded to Washington signed a five year, $78 million contract that incentives could push to $88 million.

            It turned out that only the first year was guaranteed with Washington having options on the remaining years. He was traded to the Vikings then waived to end up with a small fraction.

            Ackers is another example where the contract was reported as guaranteed. It turned out the signing bonus was the only guaranteed money. Cutting him saved the 49ers $3 million.

      • with this I disagree. The team puts in time and dollars as well when signing a player. Why shouldn’t they at least get two seasons out of a guy that they take a chance on. All you fans crying it isn’t enough money need to remember the CAP space each team has. I hear people complaining on here all the time about ticket costs, beer and food costs, parking etc. If you as a fan are willing to pay double or more so that these guys get a bigger salary then stop complaining! I would kill to play a pro sport and make that kind of money!

        • Garney. You would kill to make $56k less housing costs in two cities less travel costs back and forth to see your kids less paying taxes in two jurisdictions and cover your own medical insurance or rehab cost after an predictable insury. Not likely.

          • The tax part is more about filing two returns.

            After the Canada – US tax treaty provisions are used the net result more likely means paying tax in Canada where filing a US return that documents the credit for Canadian taxes paid means the US taxes are wiped out.

            It worked this way when I worked in the US, as a Canadian.

            Agree with the other points … especially where if one has NFL interest – the injury risk takes on more weight.

    • Yes and no one held a gun to his head to say he must play. No workers comp, no CFL support if he gets injured. He has decide to not play for $45k

      He will probably make more money from his Clothing Line business and his motivational speaking contracts.

  8. He is right. The Argos are wrong. Hamilton was wrong on the Chris Williams situation. Let him go. If he does not make an NFL team he will come back.

    • Or if his business in Florida is successful then maybe he will not come back

      • Or if the business is moderately successful and another CFL team offers more, he may come back.

        From what he has said, I doubt he would come back at current salary.

  9. rogieshan // January 24, 2018 at 6:05 pm //

    Didn’t Chris Williams go to court over the exact same situation with Hamilton? Previously, players could not gain free agency simply by sitting out the year. Argos within their rights to hold Wilder to honoring the option year on his entry contract. Tough call.

    • The Chris Williams situation was different in that he alleged the Tiger-Cats never offered him a 1+1. That the contract they presented him was a 2+1, and that he would have gone for a 1+1 if he had the choice. He also didn’t have a real CFL agent at the time which was probably part of the problem. The court case was to void the deal because the Tiger-Cats violated the CBA by not providing the option of the minimum.

  10. White Horse // January 24, 2018 at 6:06 pm //

    He has proved his ability as the best running back in the league in a short period. He deserves a reworked contract for one year. I feel Popp will do exactly that. Messam is not the answer. Stamps don’t want Messam either.

  11. Greenland // January 24, 2018 at 6:09 pm //

    Lots of teams give players their release to pursue a shot at the NFL. Life is to short as it is, especially for football players. Let him go.

  12. Tinhead 296 // January 24, 2018 at 6:10 pm //

    Most teams would release an American player in good faith if he wants to pursue NFL opportunities. If it does not work out, he can come back to the Argos and finish the season as they still have his rights. If he can’t make a new deal, he then is a free agent later on. Simple process. Argos management are totally wrong on this one.

  13. Solara2000 // January 24, 2018 at 6:11 pm //

    Unfortunate. Losers all around – JW, Argos, fans, CFL.
    I could be wrong on this but I think the releases that teams provide players to try out with the NFL are in cases when the contract is due to expire before the upcoming season and/or when a player has had a provision for such a release written into his contract. Otherwise a legitimate contract between 2 consenting parties. Having said that, I would be surprised if Popp, an experienced GM who has been to a rodeo or two before, had not offered to renegotiate increased dollars in exchange for an extended term.

    • Exactly. All of this. How did Popp let this get to this point?? Yes, the guy is under contract, but he broke out in a BIG way, and he was making peanuts. They could double his contract and they’d still be getting a screaming deal. I would say that there are extenuating circumstances in this case and Popp should be boosting his salary, maybe not all the way to market value but a good raise nonetheless.

  14. This is a tough one… ordinarily a contract is a contract, but this guy is a bonified game changer. Just as they tore up Durant’s contract because he didn’t produce. They should really rewrite his contract. I don’t know what the numbers are, but a star running back – which he is now, should get at least $150k per year. Hate to lose this guy over this… and it’s not looking good on the Argos or our league.

    I remember Seahawks QB was playing MVP status and only making $650k a year until he signed his giant contract. Maybe Wilder can play out his contract and then sign for bigger money.

  15. As a Rider fan I am sad over this. In my mind, James Wilder Jr. is the most exciting player in the league and I hate to see him leave. On the other hand Jin Popp is wrong in denying this young man the opportunity to improve himself. Sad either way.

  16. I agree with the poster earlier on who said that both JW and the Argos are wrong in this case. The Argos should let him compete for a spot in the NFL. Wilder should honour his contract, but even more importantly, he still has lots to prove; if not his athleticism and football skills, then the type of teammate he’s going to be, and what he’ll do when things don’t go his way.

    • Your two solutions cannot co-exist. He should play for the Argos in 2018, and Argos should release him immediately.

    • Or the Argos could give him a nice raise in pay.
      There is no way that a talented guy should be paid less than the “no talent” “O” linemen that protect him.
      Contracts can and should be changed based upon performance.

  17. Curtis Pangracs // January 24, 2018 at 6:29 pm //

    If the CFL wants the best players available to play in their league then there has to be a clause in every contract that allows them to pursue NFL interest so long as they sign some type of contract before the CFL season starts. Why can the teams throw away contracts in the offseason by cutting players who have multi year deals. Seems as though the teams are the only one protected by this bogus practice.

  18. Contracts are signed to avoid this situation. The signing parties understanding the terms and conditions and sign to abide by the particulars. One party cannot unilaterally decide due to extraneous issues unrelated to the contract, to cancel their obligation.

    • CFL lover // January 24, 2018 at 7:31 pm //

      Gary where have you been for the last century ? Teams cut players left and right while they are still under “contract”, they also aren’t beneath releasing them in a heartbeat instead of paying them a bonus which was written in said contact. Wilder was sensational last year, if he doesn’t want to risk his future career in the NFL by playing up here for peanuts God bless him. This is just the shoe being on the other foot. Do you think Toronto would have “honored” that two year deal if he was a dog and they had a chance to sign someone better ? $56 Thou Canadian, what a joke !

    • Gary. The team can cancel at anytime!!!!!! That’s the point. CFL contracts only bind the player. Ask Duran if he collected his $150k bonus cheque.

    • Most of us sign contracts when we are hired. We are free to quit and move on if we don’t like the compensation. It’s too bad that football players have no choice, they have to play for the CFL minimum.
      His only choice is to choose a job in a different career for a year

  19. Here’s the thing, he had a pretty good 1st season, if the argos renegotiate his contract and then he has a crappy year do you think he will come back and say ” I’m giving half my salary back to reflect the value I didn’t bring to the team ” Methinks not. He signed for 2 years and was probably content when he did.

    • No, he signed for the CFL minimum. CFL players are not offered a big contract in their first season.
      The Argos could have avoided this situation if they re-negotiated his contract based upon his first year performance.
      If he doesn’t perform in his second year then he can be let go, it happens all the time in the CFL.
      Football players get no workers comp, no benefits if injured, if they slow down and don’t perform they are released.

      • Imagine what a clusterf*ck the league would become if every team renegotiated every contract of every player based on their first year performance in a new contract. In what professional sports league do they do that?

  20. Exactly Ticats1, these players only want the contract honoured when it is to their benefit.

    • As a matter of fact if the player has a bad year he can be cut. Or in the case of Zach Collaro, and many others, his contract is renegotiated, downwards. Total bush league move by the Argos.

      • Or in the NFL, cutting Ackers saved the 49’s $3 million. Of the three year $9 million deal – it is reported that only the signing bonus of $1.7 million was guaranteed.

    • Would you stay in your job for $45k a year if you had been the top person in your organization and others below you were making more just because they were there longer or they were Canadian and you weren’t??
      The guy is asking for a decent contract based upon his performance. He gets no compensation if he’s injured.
      He has decided to quit and work in his own business for a year, the CFL can’t force him to work.

  21. I am pretty sure Chris Williams argument was He signed a Three year contract as a rookie and claimed he was never offered the option of the two year deal or informed that he only needed to sign a two year minimum contract as a CFL Rookie.

  22. Funny… Wilder is held to his contract after helping the Argos win a GC but when Trestman wanted to break his contract. Popp let him out and tried to ride his coat tail out of town, throwing the franchise in disarray.

    CFL is dirty, dirty business. Yet every time their contract opens up the players think so small they can’t fight for their own security. Pokes on all their houses.

    • You make a good point. Very few men of honor and principle left in the world today.

      • Yes, how many workers in the country would favor “honor and principle” and remain in a job for another year making min wage and zero workers compensation if they got injured.

  23. Cmon Popp renegotiate the man’s contract. Do the right thing

  24. Choke a Cola // January 24, 2018 at 7:06 pm //

    This is simply sad for the CFL.

  25. As mentioned earlier, most, if not all teams allow players to seek NFL employment and if it doesn’t work out, they come back to their initial team. I’m very sorry to hear that the Argos are unwilling to talk to James about options that benefit both parties. Without him, I’m not convinced we would have gone as far as we did.

    • He would probably stay in the CFL if he was offered a bigger salary.
      They could have given him a decent raise and he plays this year and the possibility of returning in 2019, now he won’t be back at all in 2019.

      • I believe it was noted in the Wilder interview article that the Argos did offer him more money and a longer term, but Wilder has declined that bc he doesn’t want the longer term. He wants the NFL. The Argos want him and want to pay him but they’re not going to pay him more money for one more season to walk.

  26. Ned Flanders // January 24, 2018 at 7:32 pm //

    Let him sit for a year. If he won’t honor a couple tract he signed in good faith. It’s not the Argos fault he had 4 kids.

  27. Good for him. He is making the right decision. Minimum wage in Ontario at $15 per hour equals 31200 a year he is going to get his body beat up for an extra 19000. Good luck Mr Wilder. Millwright’s make more and they have safety measures coming out their ying yang.

    • Not to disagree with your post but the CFL season is only 6 months long so it actually works out to $112/year.

    • He will likely make more money in the family business in the Tampa area. Lower taxes and a much cheaper cost of living there compared to Toronto and his family is there.
      He has obviously weighed the differences and decided that playing for $45k US is not worth it, especially since there is zerio comp if he gets injured.
      At least the Millwright – would get workers comp if injured!!

  28. The guy can probably make as much or more in US dollars working in a widget factory at home without having to deal with sharing costs for a second residence in Toronto or more importantly without the risk of significant injury. So with a wife and four kids, while this seems selfish on the surface…..hard to blame the guy. This IS LIFE IN THE CFL…he’s isn’t the first to do this and sure won’t be the last…..see Shawn Lemon who screwed over the REDBLACKS two years ago. Argos dilemma is that they are looking at a CAP squeeze after getting many players on team friendly contracts last year. Popp is feeling the heat to get everyone ba k as it is and shelling out another 75k or 100k for a guy who already has a contract for 2018 only makes things tighter. So, best option is to let him go to try the NFL and hope the good will gets him to return if he doesn’t make it rather than pulling a sleeve ball move like Lemon, screwing them over by signing with another CFL team. Good luck Argos…will make for interesting reading over the next several months!

  29. CFL is at crossroads – teams need just a little more gate money to work with, then in turn push up the average wage to over $100k. It’s getting close.

    For $60k, he was signed as a special teams player… NOW, he’s their feature back… new scenario. He would stay for another $40k. Sports is also entertainment… fans rallied and came to watch the Argos playoff game – $40k is nothing to keep a star player on the team and keep fan interest going in TO. Sometimes you have to forget precidents and just fork over the cash.

    Do it. Sign him. League doesn’t need a black eye.

  30. DoubleBlue1873 // January 24, 2018 at 7:40 pm //

    As an Argo fan, I’d like to see them renegotiate his contract to encourage him to play his second year. A back of his calibre is well worth double the minimum wage and won’t blow the cap (which goes up an extra $50K this year anyway). And MLSE can afford it. Come on, guys, JWJ is the kind of player who puts butts in the seats and eyeballs on the screens. He was instrumental in getting the Argos to the Grey Cup. He’s also a fine upstanding young man who conducts himself well with fans and the media. This should be a no brainer.

    • Yes MLSE can afford it, but there is still the salary cap, and the Argos will be at the max. So the question is really is it worth it to bump his salary to (say) $125, and have to cut $80k somewhere else? Probably yes, but it’s not a clear call.

      • Here’s a money saving idea – CUT the Canadian ratio and stop over paying “O” linemen. Pay talented players like RBs and stop paying more for these no talented linemen.

        • I agree, it’s a flawed system bc of ratio rule and promoting Canadians and Canadian talent, but I don’t have a solution for how you protect Canadians. I don’t see the CFL ever throwing out this rule. Yes it does mean that talent is lower bc better American players are let go in favour of Canadians, but that is a complete different topic…

  31. Dundas dude // January 24, 2018 at 7:40 pm //

    Good for him. He needs to use whatever pressure he has. I don’t blame him, the guy was incredible in 2017.

  32. Rider fan // January 24, 2018 at 7:42 pm //

    The cfl teams are being hypocrites. Montreal in durant sask with chuck and Dressler these are a few examples the contacts are only binding one way. Wilder needs a shot at the nfl.

    • Eddy Rayner // January 24, 2018 at 8:20 pm //

      He HAD a shot at the NFL and it didn’t work out. Without the Argo audition tape, he wouldn’t be getting a shot now. A lot of comments say Argos should offer him more … do we know for sure that they didn’t? $100k might be a reasonable upgrade, but even practice roster in NFL would get him more. JW may not even entertain an Argos offer to try and get the NFL greener pastures offer. Sorry … but you signed for 2 years, play for two, kick butt and then get yourself your well-deserved raise.

      • Agree Eddy. I’m sick of all these prima donna players who flash a little brilliance and then go out and hold their employer hostage. He has 4 kids to support? Oh, WAH, WAH, WAH…cry me a river. Like no one else has families and have to work their as* off? I once worked 3 jobs to support mine. Goodbye Wilder…you are easily replaced. Men without honour usually are.

        • Philski. So you think the players hold the teams hostage. Seriously? Seriously?? The Argos are not even bound to pay him $56k. They can sucker him into moving up here for the season and then cut him training camp if he pulls a hamstring. And you think the system favours the players. I guess that none of those three jobs were unionized. Did you enjoy being exploited.?

        • Phiski – at least you would get workers comp if you are injured on the job, he gets nothing. You don’t leave your family behind to work in another region either.
          At least you can quit your job in your trade and look for employment with another company. He is not allowed to look for another job in his trade!!
          He has to quit his job and pursue a career in another field.

          • Negative Johnny Boy. 2083 miles later I still find myself in LotusLand…and not by choice…and still trying to find my way back to The Hammer.

  33. I find it difficult to believe that the Argonauts didn’t offer him a significant raise. Sounds like sour grapes about not being released to try out for the NFL. Many CFL fans complain when players are released for NFL tryouts as they often come back and sign with a different CFL team.

    • Rider fan // January 24, 2018 at 8:10 pm //

      Cfl contracts need to be binding for both party’s If the teams have the power to hold players. The teams need to be held to there side of the bargain to.

  34. Chris Johnson // January 24, 2018 at 7:58 pm //

    You negotiate a 2 yr deal, stick with it, you’ve done well, keep it up and you have bargaining power when this contract expires. If you did poorly and they wanted to pay you 40k CDN in yr 2 you would complain about that

  35. He had a good half of a season. If a team renegotiated every time a player had a good half season contracts would be useless.

  36. If he did not like what he was making in the second year, why did he sign?
    He should shut up and honour his contract.

  37. Williams is different because he didn’t want to sit out a yesr to become a free agent. He wanted to go straight to NFL even though he had another year on hos contract. It’s not the team’s responsibility to inform him of the minimum contract lengths. As many said, they signed the contract meaning they agreed to the terms.

  38. What I have observed that is not mentioned here is the Ricky Ray decision to play or retire & the salary cap tied to it. I imagine that Franklin didn’t come cheap plus adding the price of a MVP Ray contract to the mix equates to less cap space & less money for the other players. If Ray retires there’s a strong possibility JW & the Argo’s will come to some sort of agreement for the remainder of JW’s contract.

    However, other teams have not held back players under contract who want to try out the NFL. In this aspect Popp & Trestman are truly wrong & I fully support JW in his decision to retire for the last year of his contract. A performance-based contract with incentives could have been re-negotiated or at minimum offered to JW. Then again, this comes back full circle to Ray’s decision to play or retire & cap space. And, the Argo’s not communicating this potential issue to JW & his agent.

    In closing, I believe, if James sits out the year & plays the following year in the CFL. It probably won’t be with the Argo’s. Best of luck to JW in the coming year. You, deserve better! BTW: Not an Argo fan but a CFL fan (of a different team) who believes in the fairness principal for players & management.

  39. My question is this…

    Do any of us know all the details behind his contract? I know I sure do not.

    If he was signed to a base-level contract that has milestone, incentive and awards bonuses, then I think Wilder is being greedy.

    If none of those exist, if he has an agent, that agent should be fired.

    Clauses like that on an entry contract protect the player if they do get the right breaks and have a breakout season and allow for situations like this to be less frequent.

    The roster bonuses that many are speaking of, for example, are usually reserved for veterans that are signing high-paying (for the CFL), free-agent contracts. The roster bonus protects the player as much as the team.

    Those bonuses are generally paid out about a month ahead of free agency. If the player lives up to what they signed for, then paying the bonus should not be an issue for the team. If that salary no longer fits into the team’s plans going forward, the player is released ahead of free agency allowing them to sign anywhere prior to teams loading up in FA opening day.

    Beats the hell out of being cut after training camp.

  40. fannotacoach // January 24, 2018 at 9:01 pm //

    The CFL regarding contracts is like the NHL prior to the WHA. Star players were held to horrible contracts and treated like cattle. Why should a player sign a contract that is not binding both ways. In Wilders case he is perhaps a bit over the top in his attitude if as someone mentioned the argos did offer to restructure but not to his liking. He was hot for PART of the season is another point. What a can of worms.

  41. First, Wilder is negotiating, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Yes, he signed the mandatory 1+1 contract, but there’s nothing that says he can’t retire for a year (we don’t have slavery).

    I say Popp should offer incentives that could take him to $125-150k for a good to great year, but with the base the same. This is not because it’s ‘right’ or ‘fair’; just good business sense.

  42. A contract is a contract. Yes. That’s true. But if you want to sign players in the future you renegotiate his contract. Just as when a star player has a disaster year and he’s expected to take a cut to stay the same should go in return. When you sign a guy for nothing because he’s desperate and he ends up being a franchise player you do the right thing and pay him. Even if you don’t have to. If you don’t other players see that. And will not be quick to play for you.

  43. rogieshan // January 24, 2018 at 9:19 pm //

    Cameron Wake was a stud after his initial season in BC, but he honored his contract and played out his option before signing with Miami. Not every player and his agent employ this tactic. Maybe it’s simply time to scrap the 1+1 entry contracts.

  44. It’s pretty obvious the CFL needs to bring back the option year window or have a set price, say 10k to buy your way out of the last year of your contract to go to the NFL if the salary cap can’t jump some.

    Athletes careers are short. I don’t begrudge him for doing this. His performance justifies a salary double that which he made last year.

  45. MoneyTeam // January 24, 2018 at 9:30 pm //

    If NFL teams really want to bring this guy in, why aren’t they able to buy the contract/player a la soccer player transfers? Problem solved. I can see the argument that they won’t want to pay for a player who isn’t a starter/may not make the team, but what’s $50k USD to these teams to have a look? How many times per year does one NFL team bring CFL players in who are freshly released from contracts so they can have a look? Is it that often that it’s not financially feasible? If they don’t want to pony up then how interested are they really in the player? Prob not much. And if they’re not that interested in buying the contract then that should send a signal to said player where they stand.

    I am all for guys pursuing their dreams and having successful careers in the highest level of their sport, but the CFL can’t just let people walk away from their contracts because a few NFL teams “expressed interest”. Nor should they be re-negotiating contracts for every player who had a good half-season. They have enough trouble marketing players as is, it would be even worse if they went to one-and-done contracts. If you have NFL dreams and want to move on in short order (financial/family reasons) then come with a resume that backs up your ability to produce for this one year and make it worthwhile for the team to have an out in your contract. If you can’t negotiate that in then too bad. It’s a business, both ways.

  46. Very simply is if a CFL player wants out of his CFL contract so he can sign a NFL contract then the NFL team should at least pay for the right to do so. It could be the amount the player was to play for in that year. In Wilders case that would be 56K. This is PEANUTS to any NFL team. It could be 500K if Mike Reilly of the Eskimos wanted to do the same thing. Still PEANUTS to any NFL team. If the player then gets cut by the NFL team and wants to come back to the CFL that team has 14 days to resign him or trade him then the player becomes a free agent and can sign with anybody if nothing happens in those 14 days. The Commish needs to get this worked out with his NFL counterpart asap.

    • Jim, I have been advocating this for some time. Plus the CFL and NFL don’t have to reinvent the wheel. FIFA soccer already has a a great system of player transfers and loans. In this case the Argos would negotiate a transfer fee with the highest NFL bidder and the NFL would take Wilders contract as is. However, it would have to change it to the NFLPA minimums which is close to 1 million USD and Wilder would play on that for one year and then be an NFL free agent. AMbrosie can just call the FIFA office in Switzerland and they can explain. Dont get corrupted though.

  47. This is a very dangerous precedent. Stick to your guns Argos. If the Argos allow him to go, the floodgates will open. Wilder knew what he was signing. This story and the Manziel story are two opposite extremes . When will these players be satisfied with what they have?

  48. dangerdan21 // January 24, 2018 at 9:58 pm //

    This why the CFL can’t keep good players
    as soon get chance they head for NFL and Big money
    NFL Players Association the average career length is about 3.3 years.
    so why stay in CFL when big money is State side
    The CFL Must Raise it cap significantly to match NFL salaries
    the CFL 2018 salary cap will be set at $5,200,000.
    it must rise to at least 20,000,000
    This allow Team so Keep rising stars from Bolting to the NFL
    Keep some CFL Drafted players Home and out of the NFL Grasp

    • Why stop at $20 million? I’ll see your $20 million, and raise you to $50 million. I can’t think of any reason why this wouldn’t work. It’s surprising that the CFL hasn’t thought of it before.

      • LOL. dangerdan21, you know what would allow the CFL to raise their salary cap to these numbers? A MUCH better US TV deal. And how do they get a MUCH better US TV deal? They keep star players like James Wilder, who are under contract, in the league. It’s weird there are a lot of complaints about teams not letting players under contract leave but everyone wants them to get paid more. Kind of weird oxymoron-esque sentiments… haha.

        The CFL isn’t going to grow if they can’t get and retain US talent. If everyone here just thinks contracts should be ripped up or renegotiated every time a player does well then the league is doomed a lot quicker than we all think. If anything, these contracts should be LONGER so players stick around and they can market them more successfully.

  49. Billinburlington // January 24, 2018 at 9:59 pm //

    I think this scenario foreshadows the next round of negotiations of the CFLPA. I believe it will be a long negotiation that will run into the season… each side will take a very hard line. I expect a nasty and difficult negotiation with potentially a lock out or strike. Hope I’m wrong.

  50. Where's Shultz? // January 24, 2018 at 10:15 pm //

    I don’t think anyone is entirely right or wrong in this situation, but I respect any man willing to make tough decisions for their family.

    That being said, any person starting a family/bringing children into the world should consider their finances before doing so. It’s irresponsible to have 4 kids and not know if you’ll be able to provide for them.

  51. Some posters have made the argument that if a team can break a contract so can the player.
    A sports contract is completely subject to player performance and injury avoidance. If the player is subpar then the team shouldn’t be expected to continue paying his salary. We can’t expect teams to retain a kicker who has a very low field goal percentage, he has to be let go even if he has a contract.
    Players on the are hired and paid to perform at their highest level which is what Wilder did. Players are supposed to overachieve so why give them a bonus if they do their job? This is like paying a judge a bonus for being honest! How can you argue that you can break your contract because you did you job well? Now, once the contract expires your bargaining position improves and you have the right to negotiate for more money.

  52. Wow Franklin – have you made a mistake!

  53. Wilder claims there was a verbal agreement with the Argos should an NFL opportunity arise when Jim Popp was recruiting him. Just another in a million examples showing what a contract in the CFL is worth.

    Wilder didn’t come begging for a job. Jim Popp has been trying to convince Wilder to come to the CFL since the days Wilder was on Montreal’s neg list.

    Toronto should let him try the NFL as there is only a tiny chance he makes in down South. As is, the Argos just look like somebody who is holding down someone’s dream and desire to provide for his family.

  54. I just have to say that this might be the best discussion thread I’ve seen yet on 3down. Differing opinions all the way around, but I’m enjoying reading them because everyone is staying on-point and not straying from the article onto nonsense.

    Thanks all!

  55. Wilder is honouring terms of the contract. He can sit out this year and not get paid. He’s exercising an option available within his contract.
    Just think. How many teams release payers under contract? Is that a problem or are the teams exercising their option?

  56. Scottsask // January 25, 2018 at 1:07 am //

    Best thread yet, very interesting, informative and on topic. Well done CFL fans.

    • Billinburlington // January 25, 2018 at 10:20 pm //

      Indeed.. a good discussion. Lots of fans for sure… and I suspect we have more than a few active players posting comments too – judging from the highly informed and passionate comments.

  57. Footballnut // January 25, 2018 at 1:16 am //

    Give him $$$$ t.o!

  58. He is so tone deaf to quote Drew. Does he not understand how the CFL works. It gives preference to barely talented CIS players and makes NFL caliber Neg list talent such as Wilder and Manziel play for peanuts until they get injured or leave. This is why the CFL is in and out of bankruptcy. The other sports leagues treat their players better and thus are more successful. See NHL, MLS, NBA, and MLB. You have to retain your stars to keep the fans in the seats and watching the Telly. Wilder should open a small business the way Manziel did until he can get a decent deal somewhere.

  59. A limited body of work, not much in the way of rushing yards when it counted in the playoffs. I suspect strongly he is getting (some bad) advice from his agent. If he returns, has a strong season, he can parlay that into a very good CFL contract or, indeed, give the NFL another shot.

  60. Wilder is a punk. He shouldn’t spend all of his money on gold chains and designer sunglasses. The guy negotiates through the media and now thinks the CFL is beneath him? What a joke. Have fun sitting out 2018. Jim Popp will find his replacement within a week.

  61. Football Fan // January 25, 2018 at 10:40 am //

    What a joke the CFL is. A guy rather work 10 hours a day doing construction that play in the minor leagues.

    Serves the league right for letting talent walk away and allowing for ridiculous rules such as banning him from pursuing what is CLEARLY a better career by way of trying out for the NFL. The CFL knows it’s not the dream for 99% of athletes, find a way to work with them and the NFL.

    As for the fans, this is why the league in the only major market, Toronto, you rather hold on to this hope the CFL will one day be a real league and say, it’s ok if real talent leaves, let’s give some other guy a shot! Why are you happy watching mediocre talent???

    WOW… this league is in a lot of trouble! They need to come to the realization they are the minors, work with colleges and the NFL to grow the talent pool and pump out players!

  62. George Porge // January 25, 2018 at 2:45 pm //

    “…in the only major market, Toronto…”

    That, right there, explains so much about your post. Enjoy the centre of the universe, guy.

  63. Football Fan // January 25, 2018 at 2:52 pm //

    Not only will i enjoy it, i’m going to love it, especially while I watch the Superbowl and enjoy some real football

    Ps. you spelled center wrong…

  64. Let him stay in the states
    He and his buddies signed a one year lease with me and bailed out once the season was over with 6 month left in the lease. I had to clean the house repaint. Redo my lawn that was never taken care of .
    I’m out of 15000 thanks to garbage like that

    • Well gready Phil , WHaaaaaa Whaaa as you say !!! Maybe you should look at your leasing policy!!! NOT everyone has the luxury of working in one location for a minimum of 1 calander year. You obviously KNEW these fellows were American BOrn FB players when you offered the lease , through your greed you ignored that things might change in these fellows lives after the football season . Who would LIVE in TO JOBLESS , paying HUGE rent, when they can go HOME !!! and have proper support in place. Ahh yeah your CHEAP ASS Argo management would Agree with you !!!!! Greed rules !!!! Screw the little fellow that works hard for you !!! Good attitude you greedy jerk !!!

      • First I don’t know a thing about football.
        Second they knew what they were doing and they were even asking for a two year lease to make it look that they are good tenants. Third I’m not greedy , that’s the only property I own. They are scammers that just bailed out . If they would have told me they need to lease for 5 month I would have never given it to them.

        • Only corroborates my “Men without honour” comment above re Mr. Wilder. Thank you.

          • And I absolutely empathize with you re these a**holes who right from the start are trying to scam you…and then plead ignorance to the terms of a LEGAL contract. I’ve dealt with enough of them in my time. I sincerely hope you have better luck with your next tenant. I always have to remind myself, but there are actually honest people out there.

  65. I am leaning the other way now. First of all, I always believed that if a player figured he have a great year and command more next year, just sign a one year contract. Not 2 or more and then hold out to renegotiate. Problem is. I just read that the CFL makes you sign minimum 2 years. Yes Cam Wake honoured his contract. Shows he is al class., but Wally has also released players because he does not want to hold them back from a dream. A co-worker also pointed out that if a team does not let a guy pursue an opportunity, what will that do to other possibly really good players who are thinking of coming up here for a couple of years to get ‘known’ like Cam Wake did. I think the Argos should let him seek his opportunity and then if it does not work out, welcome him back.
    If CFL contracts are not binding like an NHL contract, a player can sign a 3 year contract and get released at camp, or after 3 games or…SO it should be a two way street.

  66. MoneyTeam // January 26, 2018 at 3:51 pm //

    There’s nothing wrong with possibly really good players coming here for a couple years to get known and leave. Happens all the time. There’s a problem with possibly really good players coming here for 1 year to get known and leave. Unless they’re successful at getting an out clause in their contract due to expressed NFL interest.

  67. Let him tryout, and if he gets a contract, tell the NFL team that they owe $150.000 (3x) to buy out his contract. Very simple.
    If he is that good, the CFL team makes a pile of money, and the player is happy, which means more players will play CFL.
    If he is not offered a contract, he comes back and realizes that he is NOT NFL calibre and takes what he can get.

  68. Ivan Diablo // January 26, 2018 at 6:37 pm //

    it will be interesting how sitting out 2018 season will be viewed by the nfl gm
    will he be labeled a ‘trouble maker’ ?

  69. Negative my Abacus friend. One of those jobs was at the University of Stelco before it went for a shi*. “Union” is my middle name. And yes, I do believe professional athletes today DO hold their respective teams hostage by demanding outlandish salaries, knowing damn well it has a ripple effect on the fan base (ie. season ticket sales). Reality though is that majority of them capture their 15 min of fame before fading out into the trivia question sunset…laughing all the way.

  70. Time to step up Mr. Commish. Reneging on a legal contract is wrong, plain and simple. If you don’t plug the leak right now you’ll have more of these wannabe NFL crybabies to contend with, further soiling your fine product.

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