CFL, CFLPA to cancel voluntary off-season mini-camps

The league and players’ association have agreed to put an end to team mini-camps.

The CFL and CFLPA added mini-camps to the collective bargaining agreement in 2010, which allowed teams to hold them for three days, but they were voluntary and no contact was permitted. After eight years of holding off-season mini-camps, they will be no more, per sources.

Mini-camps provided teams the opportunity to see players in their own setting on a Canadian field while working with coaches and team-specific schemes. It gave a chance for franchises to evaluate newcomers and make decisions based on performances at mini-camp. Based on the assessment afterwards, players could put themselves in a favourable spot heading into training camp, especially rookies new to the three-down game, or hopefuls could be released.

Taking away mini-camps decreases reps for younger players and makes it harder for them to break into the CFL. For most personnel men and coaches it was a critical period of time where the players could be seen up close, viewing talent and decide whether or not a player(s) should come to main training camp or if new prospects should be brought in. Each squad can bring 75 players to training camp, but during that time only 12 player transactions can be utilized. That made mini-camps a valuable tool for judging talent and rounding out the roster without any constraints.

Mini-camps gave the first feel of football and put teams in the news during April and May which some consider a slower period in the CFL calendar outside of the Canadian Draft.

Player safety has been paramount has been top of mind since Randy Ambrosie has taken office as the commissioner. An extra bye week was added to the 2018 schedule and padded practices were eliminated after training camp is over last September. Eliminating mini-camps continues that initiative.

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