Ticats and No. 1 pick Mark Chapman ‘light years’ apart in contract negotiations

First overall CFL draft pick Mark Chapman and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are “light years” apart in contract negotiations, per league sources.

Every player from the 2018 CFL Draft is now under contract – with the exception of those who signed in the NFL or are going back to school – Chapman remains the lone unsigned selection.

The second overall pick, Montreal Alouettes offensive lineman Trey Rutherford, inked a three-year pact worth a total of approximately $285,000 in “hard money” – essentially what a player can earn without hitting performance or playtime bonuses. That’s in line with what Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie, last year’s top selection, garnered on his deal: around $290,000 in hard money for three seasons.

Multiple sources say Chapman wants a deal in line with what Rutherford and Ekakitie received while Hamilton is trying to get a below-market contract.

The Ticats traded to acquire two first-round picks – Darius Ciraco, the sixth overall choice, who signed on Tuesday – inked Johnny Manziel for $150,000, plus added new contracts for Jeremiah Masoli, receivers Brandon Banks and Luke Tasker, defensive linemen Ted Laurent and Justin Capicciotti, linebacker Larry Dean and secured free agent kicker/punter Lirim Hajrullahu – all which must fit under the CFL’s $5.2 million salary cap.

The Ticats traded up to select the Central Michigan University receiver with the first choice in the 2018 CFL draft. Hamilton head coach June Jones was enamoured by Chapman’s talents and that played a role in the Ticats wanting to secure him atop the draft.

“He has the upside to be one of the better Canadians on the team. I think you always fall behind. Definitely, the longer he’s out the more he’s going to be behind. He’s a smart kid though he’ll catch up,” Jones said about Chapman on the first day of training camp. “They are in contract negotiations going back and forth. Hopefully, they’ll get it solved.”

Chapman is represented by agent Fred Weinrauch, who also counts Masoli as a client.

He starred for Central Michigan University, leading the Chippewas with 59 receptions and 875 yards while reaching the end zone five times in 13 games during his senior year. The six-foot, 180-pound pass catcher made 147 receptions for 2,035 yards and 10 touchdowns over four seasons with the Chippewa’s.

“Chapman is the guy that will walk in your locker room, you put him on the field day one in the starting lineup and he does not look out of place at all,” one evaluator said.

“He’s a guy that shows he can step on the field right away and be productive,” another football executive added.

It was unanimous among scouts that Chapman was the most pro-ready player in the 2018 class.

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