Unique contract structure gets Redblacks’ Chris Ackie early NFL shot

A unique contract structure is allowing the Ottawa Redblacks’ Chris Ackie to pursue NFL opportunities earlier than usual.

When the Canadian linebacker-defensive back signed a one-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes in January 2018, it included a Dec. 1 release date – a deviation from the typical February date in most CFL contracts. The Redblacks, who acquired Ackie for a second-round pick at the trade deadline, have released him a little early and he is currently pursuing NFL opportunities with multiple workouts already scheduled.

The 26-year-old played in 16 games during the 2018 season making 88 tackles, two interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble while scoring one touchdown. That was the most productive season during Ackie’s four-year CFL career.

Ackie has played in 55 career CFL games making 116 tackles, forcing four fumbles, two sacks, two interceptions while scoring one touchdown after the Alouettes chose the Wilfrid Laurier University product in the first round, fourth overall in the 2015 CFL draft. He attended New York Giants rookie mini-camp in 2015.

Ackie’s unique contract not only gives him an early shot at the NFL but also allows him to pursue opportunities in the Alliance American of American Football, should they arise. The eight-team league will open training camps in January with its inaugural season set to begin the following month. But it’s unlikely Ackie would try the AAF given the simple economics.

As Redblacks’ general manager Marcel Desjardins recently pointed out, most pending CFL free agents won’t get that opportunity. But the deal Ackie signed with Montreal general manager Kavis Reed will likely give other players the same idea.

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