What the Argos are offering James Wilder Jr.

The Toronto Argonauts are reportedly offering running back James Wilder Jr. a contract extension that would make him “one of the highest paid running backs” in the CFL.

That phrasing seems ambiguous, so we’ll do the work.

Canadian Andrew Harris is set to make just under $200,000 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2018, making him the highest paid ball-carrier in the CFL. Given his status as a ratio-breaker and his consistently excellent production, that makes sense. Alouettes running back Tyrell Sutton checks in at $120,000, Jerome Messam $110,000 and C.J. Gable just under $100,000.

Let’s have a look at how Wilder Jr’s numbers compare.

2017 stats Yds per carry Yds per touch 20+ yd runs 100 yd games
Wilder 7.1 8.1 9 4
Gable 5.7 6.0 2 3
Harris 5.5 6.4 5 2
Sutton 5.5 5.9 6 2
Messam 4.7 4.8 4 2

Wilder’s new contract offer from the Argos is around $100,000 but it does not include a signing bonus. By comparison, Harris is due $60,000 in off-season money, Sutton received a $36,000 signing bonus while a number of the others have a roster payment or got upfront money when they signed their new deals including Gable ($30,000) Messam ($20,000) Jeremiah Johnson ($18,000) and William Powell ($15,000.) That signing bonus is beneficial for American players because it is taxed at a lower rate, which is why Gable took a larger payment upon signing than hard money elsewhere.

2017 stats Rush yds Rec yds TDs Starts
A. Harris 1,035 857 7 18
W. Powell 1,026 242 6 12
J. Messam 1,016 183 9 17
J. Johnson 913 542 12 17
J. Wilder Jr. 872 533 5 10
T. Sutton 843 312 6 14
C.J. Gable 833 285 8 13
A. Green 447 47 5 6
T. Williams 187 88 3 1

Most players coming into their second CFL contracts with production like Wilder Jr. – especially ones coming off an award-winning season – would expect both a pay raise and a signing bonus. Wilder is due to make just over $60,000, plus possible playtime incentives, on the second and final year of his entry-level deal. Toronto’s offer adds another year, putting Wilder Jr. under contract with Toronto through the 2019 season. Meaning Wilder Jr. would be 28 by the time he’d be free to try the NFL again.

The offer from Toronto would put him mid-pack among starting backs in the CFL after Harris, Sutton and Messam. Stefan Logan ($145,000) and Chris Rainey ($132,000) are listed as running backs but it’s their return skills that they’re primarily compensated for.

The Argos have offered Wilder Jr. a deal that would put him among the highest paid American running backs in the CFL but it’s nowhere near Andrew Harris money. If agreed upon the contract would provide him with more salary but it doesn’t include a signing bonus and requires him to forego a shot at the NFL for another year.

It’s worth mentioning that the Argos don’t have to offer an extension at all and could sit back and see if Wilder Jr. does indeed sit out the 2018 season as he’s stated. From that sense, it does seem like a good-faith move by the Argos. Either way, the team probably wants a final decision in the near future to know how to proceed at the running back position.

The other well-paid running backs were pending free agents or hit the open market when they signed their deals – something Wilder Jr. is not. However, any player signing an extension going into the last year of their deal would get upfront money, even backend roster players: that’s part of the incentive to ink a longer pact.

There is a lot to consider if you’re Wilder Jr. but at least the choices and the numbers are crystal clear and ambiguity-free.

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.
Justin Dunk
Justin Dunk
About Justin Dunk (936 Articles)
Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.

26 Comments on What the Argos are offering James Wilder Jr.

  1. If he is smart he will take it. Argos are my team but I dont think he is an elite back.His running style is too upright and will cost him injury. Reminds me of Corey Boyd and we all know how that turned out.

    • Frankly, salaries are bang on only Logan misreported by a couple K which means that Dunk’s source at the Argos had a reason to make sure he was accurate this time unlike the hack job they pushed trying to manipulate Free agency and making things difficult on the Alouettes.

      Dunk and Drew owe the Alouettes an apology for how brutally wrong they were the night before and week of FA- no rush to clear up those salaries as Reed did a great job. I hope the Als D, completely overhauled during FA, is shut down. Will be a massive difference from last year. Too bad Mincey gone to the NFL.

  2. Gobluebruin // March 1, 2018 at 11:09 am //

    If he has another year close to last year it will all fall into place for the young man. Plus, he is already a Grey Cup Champion.

  3. Smarmydog // March 1, 2018 at 11:14 am //

    first…dont understand the hate for this guy in every other comment forum
    so…yes this guy has a contract…and he can be cut at any time by the team without compensation…he had 10 quality starts…yes its only 10…
    i am surprised by how quiet the players association is on all this…cause its reasonable to change some things around contracts and the nfl…
    in the end this guy is no different than any of us….trying to provide for his family….and lets face it…i will have worked for 40 and pulled down a darn good wage…this guy….will he have 10 years as a pro athelete??
    and yes we choose what we want to do…and to some point where and how…
    but just lay off the hate for this guy and let it play out

  4. Wilder could not be reached for comment as he was still pretending to be working at an imaginary construction job.

  5. Blue rules // March 1, 2018 at 11:31 am //

    Not many options for Wilder, he can sit out 2018, play with Argo’s for $100k + or go rogue and play elsewhere (ask for a trade, if JWJ is affordable and fits in with others schemes). Not much money left in budgets. He likely would be best to stay where he has comfortably in his position. Good luck, have a great 2018

    • Philski // March 2, 2018 at 3:32 am //

      Waters is around 90K and Medlock closer to 150K. Waters had a rough patch. Hajrullahu has to be making close to Medlock and will be money for the Ticats-BIG loss for the Argos. Heard Argos and Edmonton have the highest average salaries in the league of just under 90K per player. Wilder is worth it.

  6. Doug Mc Clintock // March 1, 2018 at 11:39 am //

    Playing football as well as other pro sports is so complex anymore !What is the average salary for a CFL player? If you are a star player like Ricky Ray, you can make close $400.000 a year. The rest of the team is all over the map ! How much does a kicker get ?

    • Cat Fan // March 1, 2018 at 3:13 pm //

      Best I have found so far is a 2014 article claiming $80K.

      Interesting you mention Ray as his is reported to have been making $43K USD delivering Frito Lay potato chips – far more than the CFL paid him in his rookie year.

      The trouble with using Ray is that he is a QB, which all starting QBs make substantially more than the rest of the players. Mazoli signed for something like $350K as QB while Bowman as a receiver is reported to have made $260K, slightly up from SJ Green in 2015, who was thought to be making $250K.

      Wilder as a RB is set to make $56K but the Argos are offering something closer to the top paid RB in exchange for another year in the CFL (i.e. 2018 + 2019).

      Not finding much for kickers … but the Argos Water in 2015 was supposed to be making more than $100K. I would expect Medlock to be at or near the top but am not finding info.

  7. I think the key for Wilder is whether or not the Argos agree that he can exit after 2018, IF the rules change and the NFL-window is brought back (which seems likely). As long as the rule change is retroactive to include players under contract, or the Argos agree to let him go if the rules change going forward, then his option becomes one-year at $100k vs $0 (with no injury risk) and a shot at NFL money in 2019.

    • That would be 2020, if he wants the 100 thousand. Otherwise it’s 60 thousand base and then he’s a free agent in 2019.
      He’d be wise to sign the extension.

  8. RicoBeBlueAndGolden // March 1, 2018 at 11:48 am //

    Bang on, Wilder and Boyd have the same running style/posture but Wilder seems a little heavier maybe more muscle mass. Hopefully he can stay heathy and happy. This is one of the positions I love in the CFL, when you have a good RB and he lights it up it’s a thing of beauty to watch. The passing game opens and the D starts playing on their heals. Not making comparisons but when Pringle would get on his game it was something to behold.

    • Philski // March 2, 2018 at 3:44 am //

      A balanced running game is a stat like TOP for me and the team that has that game plan is competitive. With a old QB in Ray, have to run the ball to keep the D honest or they will be rushing Ray all day. What is missing is how many games they played. Sutton and Wilder out for a number and still up there at the top of the pack. Wilder was a momentum changer, Argos had guys who were catalysts to the team in the second half, Wilder and Db Mitchell that Montreal picked up were able to make big plays at key times.

  9. What do you expect the PA to do about it – – demand the minimum salary be raised to $120k so guys like Jim Wilder won’t have to scrape by earning “only” $100k for six months of work? Demand players be allowed to walk away from their existing CFL contract whenever they feel there might be a chance of getting an invite to an NFL camp?

    I’d like to know what Wilder’s true motivation is – – does he want out of his current contract with the Argos because he’s got an active roster spot waiting for him in the NFL or does he just want more money from the Argos than what his current contract pays?

  10. He may have had somewhat of an upright style but there’s ZERO comparison between Cory Boyd and Wilder.

    Boyd was a much more powerful RB than Wilder will ever be. Boyd was faster, tougher and more physical. He was also a better pass catcher coming out of the backfield than Wilder.

  11. Gerry Tsuji // March 1, 2018 at 12:03 pm //

    It’s a goodwill gesture on the team’s part. They don’t have to offer him a penny more. He had a shot at the NFL and was found wanting. I doubt if he’d be anymore successful now. His ego is tellng him to try the NFL again but his agent should talk some commin sense to him.

  12. I’m not knocking Wilder as he is certainly a decent running back. But didn’t he break a few long runs to achieve his numbers rather than steady gains in most games ?

    • That’s correct. Looked amazing when the defence decide to part like the Red Sea and he was allowed to run as fast as he could manage 70yds untouched to the end zone.

  13. He is a great player to watch and should put some butts in the seats so lets hope they sign him
    But I wish the league could pay the players more dough. It’s just awkward that the players make a lot less than a bunch of the folks watching them play. Factor in their career length and I always felt and hoped they should get more. My friends used to own the Renegades and I was privy to the costs of running a team and so I understand the salary limitations. But wish they could find a bunch more or even a little more money for these guys.Especially in the pricier cities.

    • BigRedMachine // March 1, 2018 at 3:09 pm //

      I always thought that the CFL would be the perfect sports league if they were able to roughly double the money they pay the players. It would be pretty decent money but not the head shaking salaries other league players make. That is one of the endearing factors of the CFL to me.

  14. I hear the career length in construction is much longer than football. I hear that the salary limitations are not as severe as in the CFL. And I hear that your salary goes farther in the less-pricier cities. And Harlingen, Texas is about a cheap an American city to live in and it’s about as far away from Toronto and the CFL that you can get. And maybe if your boss is nice, he will give in to the big raise you demand after a few months work.

  15. 4Evergreen // March 1, 2018 at 5:35 pm //

    James Wilder gets no sympathy from me. A year ago no NFL team wanted him. To stay in football he chose to move north to the CFL and knowingly signed a 2 year contract. Yes he had a good year for the time he was here. Does he think that now allows him to walk away from the contract. He signed the contract let him live up to it.

  16. A olive branch from Popp and the Argos. 40 grand more then the original deal but just practice roster money by NFL standards. Unless he Wilder wants to keep working construction he better take it. In the non NFL world a 40 grand raise is very good.

  17. In some earlier posts someone mentioned that running back are a dime a dozen and he’s right. Can’t let one guy who really hasn’t proved anything that he is worth more. Let him go. I’m sure the Argos will fill the position in no time without having to break the bank.

  18. David Mackin // March 3, 2018 at 12:28 pm //

    CFL money is awful but wilder Jr probably can’t bank on NFL. So he earns 100k plus 60k signing then taxed on two countries. Awful

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