Nate Behar speaks out after signing with Esks

Canadian receiver Nate Behar has signed a two-year contract (one year plus an option) with the Eskimos.

The fifth overall selection in the 2017 draft had been at the centre of a lengthy holdout.

“I accepted a two-year contract with the Edmonton Eskimos because it will allow me to explore new opportunities in 2019,” Behar, says.

“The information reported Monday about continued contract negotiations, re-negotiations, extensions, and bonus discussions after that time was inaccurate. In fact, before Monday the last time my agent communicated with the Eskimos was about a month ago. Over the last month, I was considering whether I wanted to play in the CFL or play an additional year of university football.”

The two-time USports All-Canadian pass catcher continues.

“The Eskimos are a fantastic team. I look forward to doing what I have always done for every team I have been a part of, which is work extremely hard to improve as a player,” the London, Ontario native says. “This is the last time I will discuss my contract or contract negotiations.”

Economically and practically – the current collective bargaining agreement is up in 2018 and the salary cap could be larger in 2019 – the two-year pact could benefit both sides.

For Behar, he will reach free agency faster and, should he perform well, be in a position to cash in earlier than first round draft picks who signed the more typical two-plus-one deal. Outside Canadian borders, the shorter contract could allow Behar to explore potential NFL opportunities. It’s unlikely Behar starts in his rookie season having missed all of training camp, which means any possible playtime incentives are a long shot. And with the way negotiations have gone, there seems to be a strong chance Behar wants to leave town as soon as possible.

On Edmonton’s side, general manager Brock Sunderland gets Behar under contract, a positive from a developmental and depth standpoint. From a cap angle, the two-year contract will save the Eskimos guaranteed cash and cap money compared to a three-year deal. After two seasons, the Eskimos will have a much better idea what they have in Behar instead of committing to three years right off the hop.