CFL CBA language puts T.J. Jones’ deal with Argos on hold

The Argos have reached a bump in the road in bringing a big name north thanks to the CFL CBA.

According to TSN’s Dave Naylor, a provision in the new CBA restricts Canadian rookies — even those coming from the NFL — from making more than the league minimum of $65,000 on a three-year deal. If Jones was drafted in 2015, he would have signed a deal worth somewhere in the range of $80,000 according to Naylor.

All of this came about after the Argos signed former Detroit Lions receiver T.J. Jones to deal worth somewhere in the range of $200,000 a season.

The good news? It appears the league and the CFLPA have taken notice. The league has already approved a change in language, now it’s up to the players association.

“After speaking with the CFL and CFLPA leadership, it’s clear to me that rookie minimums were never meant to apply to Canadian players coming back from the NFL,” Jones’ agent Rob Fry told Naylor.

“It is in all parties’ interests that Canadian players coming back from the NFL – who are not professional rookies – have the ability to garner their market value in the CFL. Otherwise, the reality is there won’t be any Canadian players with NFL experience in the CFL.”

So far, Jones is the only player caught by this change in language, but if something doesn’t change then other players coming from the NFL will also be affected. This could mean they might not even consider coming home to the CFL.

The 27-year-old was a sixth-round pick, 189th overall in the 2014 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. He played the first four seasons of his NFL career in the Motor City. During 45 NFL games, Jones has made 67 receptions for 852 yards and five touchdowns.

The six-foot, 190-pounder can return kicks and punts as well. Jones has 14 kick returns for 292 yards and 29 punt returns for 289 yards in the NFL. He has 4.48 40-yard speed and is dynamic in the open field.

The University of Notre Dame product made three catches for 38 yards and one touchdown plus eight punt returns for 96 yards — including a 60-yarder – but fumbled three times, losing two in three games with the New York Giants in 2019.

Jones caught 12 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason with New York. Due to his veteran status, Jones was not eligible for a practice roster spot with any NFL team. Through parts of seven NFL seasons, Jones has made nearly $4 million.

While playing for the Fighting Irish, Jones recorded 181 receptions for 2,429 yards and 19 touchdowns plus two rushing TDs. During his senior season at Notre Dame, Jones caught 70 balls for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns. The Winnipeg native had six catches for 90 yards in the 2013 BCS National Championship loss to the University of Alabama.