CFLPA issues memo recommending players with NFL aspirations to sign one-year contracts

The Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA) is giving its membership some guidance ahead of free agency.

The CFL collective bargaining agreement (CBA) includes a clause that allows players to pursue NFL opportunities if they are entering the option-year of their contracts. Players have not yet been able to take advantage of this window because it wasn’t cleared through the proper channels when the CBA was ratified.

The CFLPA filed a grievance about the NFL window in December, criticizing the league for its handling of the new signing window.

Winnipeg defensive end Jonathan Kongbo and Calgary cornerback Tre Roberson were recently released by their respective CFL teams to pursue NFL opportunities. Both players were under contract through 2020 and would have had to remain in the CFL had their teams not agreed to release them.

Becoming a free agent following the 2020 season will ensure CFL players the right to pursue the NFL. A large number of players have signed contracts south of the border this winter, so signing a one-year contract would be prudent for free agents looking to make the jump.

Some fans have expressed frustration about one-year contracts. With so many players becoming free agents every winter, teams struggle to build the type of roster continuity that fans crave.

With this latest memo from the CFLPA, expect next year’s free agent class to be as large as ever.

The full the memo can be found below.

This memo outlines two important topics for our members who are preparing to enter Free Agency in 2020.  First you will see the defined changes in the CBA, outlining the ability to discuss with teams prior to the expiration of your contract on February 11th, 2020. Secondly, you will read a recommendation from the CFLPA regarding the NFL Window, Article 36.01 in the collective agreement.

Free Agency Change:

  1. The CFLPA bargained the following changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) regarding members’ communication with Clubs prior to the expiration of their contracts.
  • Starting on Sunday, February 2nd at 12:00PM ET, all pending Free Agents and/or their CFLPA registered designate(s) may communicate with any CFL Club.
  • Between February 2nd at 12:00PM ET and February 9th at 12:00PM ET, Clubs may make a formal offer to a Player. Any offer must be registered with the League Office and the CFLPA. When making an offer, the Club must include the base salary amount as well as any incentives that will be provided to the Player.
  • If a Club submits an offer to a Player during the seven-day window, the offer will be considered binding and it cannot be rescinded (offer value can be increased).
  • At 12:00PM ET on February 9th, the original Club shall have an exclusive negotiating period to speak to their pending free agents for 46 hours. For the following 48 hours, no Club shall speak to or communicate it any way to any pending free agent from another team.
  • Also, at 12:00PM ET on February 9th, the League Office will provide all Clubs with any registered offers for only their pending Free Agents.
  • If the current Club wishes to make an offer to a Player, they must do so before 10:00AM ET on February 11th and include a copy of the offer to the CFL and the CFLPA.
  • Between 10:00AM and 12:00PM ET on February 11th, a Player may select any offer made to the Player by any Club. Once an offer has been accepted, the chosen Club must notify the CFL, who will in turn, notify all Member Clubs.
  • If no offer is accepted by the Player, he will become a free agent on February 11th at 12:01PM ET.  Any offers made to the player prior to the point of reaching free agency are deemed to be withdrawn and no longer available for acceptance. After a Player reaches free agency, offers no longer need to be provided to the CFL or CFLPA.
Please note: that if you decide to accept an offer in the window between 10:00AM and 12:00PM ET on February 11th, that acceptance shall be binding and a contract will be required to be executed (if it hasn’t already been done).


As we continue to prepare for an arbitration hearing of the grievances filed in regards to the interpretation and application of Article 36.01 in the collective agreement, the CFLPA recommends that ALL players who are considering an opportunity in the NFL in 2021 or beyond, sign no longer than a 1-year contract. Until we are confident that players will be able to exercise their rights as agreed upon per Article 36.01 in the collective agreement, the CFLPA recommends that all players who aspire to seek an opportunity in the NFL in 2021 or beyond, sign no longer than a 1-year contract with CFL member clubs.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.