Running back James Wilder Jr. retires from the CFL due to COVID-19 uncertainty

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

American running back James Wilder Jr. has retired from the CFL.

The 28-year-old Wilder Jr. made the decision due to the uncertainty of a 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Montreal Alouettes signed Wilder Jr. to a one-year contract for the 2020 season in January, which included a $25,000 signing bonus. He requested and received his release from the Toronto Argonauts in late November after playing 14 games for the double blue in 2019, the final year of his contract.

The six-foot-three, 232-pounder ran for 872 yards (7.2-yard average) and five touchdowns in 17 games while adding 51 catches for 533 yards bursting on the scene during the 2017 season. Wilder Jr. started six regular season games for Toronto in which the Argos went 5-1 and the double blue went 2-0 in the playoffs, including the Grey Cup victory while being named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2017.

During three seasons in Toronto, Wilder Jr. played 44 games rushing 361 times for 2,027 yards, nine touchdowns while grabbing 154 passes for 1,487 yards and five majors. Wilder Jr. was a dynamic offensive playmaker in an offence which maximized his talents under head coach Marc Trestman.

Prior to coming north of the border, Wilder Jr. spent two seasons on the Cincinnati Bengals practice roster and had a stint with the Buffalo Bills. The same season Wilder Jr. signed with the Argos, Trestman was the bench boss following his time with the Chicago Bears.

Wilder Jr. could just be the first of more players to step away from football due to the coronavirus crisis.

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