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.