CFLPA files grievance against the CFL regarding NFL window

The CFL Players’ Association has filed a grievance against the Canadian Football League regarding the NFL window.

American and Canadian players and agents are furious the CFL didn’t go about the proper avenues to allow players with remaining years on their contracts the ability to work out for NFL teams.

The memo sent to current CFL players and registered agents:

During recent collective negotiations the CFL made an unsolicited proposal to make the NFL window available to all players.

The CFL planned to work out a method that would deal with players under contract in a way that was also acceptable to the NFL. In the meantime, we understood that the CFL would continue to apply the same rules as they did in the past for players in their option year which was that players in their option year could sign an NFL Standard Player Contract or a practice roster agreement with an NFL team and they would be released from their CFL option year.

The CFL has since formulated an agreement regarding players under contract that includes a clause that restricts veteran players from signing NFL practice roster agreements. This is unacceptable to the CFL Players’ Association.

The CFLPA did not agree to this clause when the CFL approached us because they should not be allowed to change the policy applying to the NFL window. We do not want CFL players to miss any more NFL tryouts because of this arbitrary change by the League, so we have proposed that the CFL open the window to everyone and we immediately filed a grievance on the practice roster restriction/clause.

It is the opinion of the CFLPA that the NFL/NFLPA will also not agree with the CFL’s veteran player restriction/clause because the restriction to sign a practice roster agreement does not meet with the NFL’s standards for players trying out for NFL teams.

Instead of expanding the NFL window, the CFL’s actions to date have now effectively denied all players the ability to an NFL tryout. The only solution is to immediately remove the CFL’s arbitrary restrictions on veteran players and give every CFL player an equal opportunity to the NFL window.

The CFLPA remains unsatisfied with how this has been handled by the CFL. If, as a player or agent, you are concerned about your rights and eligibility as it relates to the NFL we encourage you to contact the CFLPA office immediately and not the CFL office.

We will continue to follow the grievance process and will provide an update when one is available.

The CFL had an option window in player contracts starting in 1997, which gave players entering the final year or option year of their deals roughly a six-week stretch in the off-season — December to mid-January — to work out for and sign with NFL teams.

That practice ended in 2012 when it was phased out as part of the collective bargaining process. However, teams around the Canadian Football League voted to bring back the NFL window in July 2018.

Numerous players around the CFL are being looked at by NFL teams but cannot workout for the because the league has effectively denied all players the ability to an NFL tryout.

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