The details surrounding Solomon Elimimian’s contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders have emerged and if they’re correct – and it’s Farhan so let’s assume they are – it represents excellent value for a player of Elimimian’s calibre.
— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) May 10, 2019
While that’s down from the $200,000 he made in 2018 and was expecting to make again this season, it’s still less than several other big-name defensive players received in free agency last February.
For example, Adam Bighill’s three-year contract extension with the Bombers is worth $230,000 in the first season and $750,000-plus in hard money over the length of the agreement. Bighill has 327 tackles in his last three CFL seasons (2015, 2016 and 2018) while Elimimian has 299 – even with missing 14 games last year. Bighill is 30 while Elimimian is 32.
Saskatchewan is already paying defensive tackle Micah Johnson $250,000 – he’s the highest-paid defensive player in the league – while former Rider Willie Jefferson got $210,000 from the Blue Bombers. Meanwhile, Edmonton signed Larry Dean, who will turn 31 in August, after he turned down a contract offer worth around $175,000 per season from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
So how did the Riders get Elimimian on the (relative) cheap. Well, age and his recent injury history were certainly a factor. In addition to playing in just four games in 2018, Elimimian missed 11 in 2015 and B.C. general manager Ed Hervey seemed to intimate that the former CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player has lost a step.
The other factor was timing. Most of the big-money deals are signed in February shortly after free agency opens and teams have plenty of salary cap space. By the time May rolls around, most of the dollars have been committed and so while there would have likely been several teams in on Elimimian had he hit the market with the rest of his peers, there were just two teams in the mix this spring. Reduced competition and reduced cap space mean a lesser contract for the player.
So while the B.C. Lions may have tried to maximize the value of their asset by trying to trade Elimimian, they definitely cost one of the most storied players in franchise history some money by doing so.
But Elimimian’s loss is the Riders gain and if he’s healthy and productive – which are question marks, to be sure – Saskatchewan has just landed a premier player at a discount price.