CFL, CFLPA extending opt out window to pursue NFL: memo

The CFL and the CFLPA have extended the recently-implemented opt out window, according to a memo circulated on August 29.

The opt out clause was negotiated following the cancellation of the 2020 season to allow players to pursue the NFL. The original deadline was set for August 31 but will be pushed back to a date that is yet to be determined.

Prominent players who have already opted out of their CFL contracts include Cameron Judge (linebacker, Saskatchewan), Wynton McManis (linebacker, Calgary), Kenny Lawler (receiver, Winnipeg), Jalen Saunders (receiver, Ottawa), and Dakoda Shepley (offensive lineman, Saskatchewan).

The opt out window is being extended due to a lack of clarity surrounding which players are eligible for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Once those details are finalized, players will be given another opportunity to get out of their CFL contracts.

Read below for the full memo.

Gentlemen, 
 
As we continue to work through the negotiated opt out period, many of you have yet to be provided all of the necessary information as the clubs continue to work through the government legislation. Working with the CFL, both groups want to ensure that solid information is provided to the players so everyone can make an informed decision. This also means the Monday deadline will be extended until all information has been provided. We anticipate a revised deadline date early next week, and will share that with you as soon as it becomes available. Please see the below information outlining the opt out period as previously discussed. 
 
All players who are eligible for the program and are currently under contract will receive the benefit. Please contact your Club’s finance department to ask them what payments you will be receiving, on the assumption that you will not be “opting-out” of your contract. More information on eligibility for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program can be found at this website: 
https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy/cews-who-employees.html

The operation of the NFL window for this upcoming off-season is still unclear. The League showed last year that they were not willing to abide by the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and provide the window as negotiated. It is not clear at this time if the window, as negotiated, will be in “in-effect” this December. Please use that information when making your decision during this window.
 
All eligible players will receive full government wage subsidies (CEWS) from July 2020 up until the end of December. Players currently receiving medical coverage will have that coverage extended to the start of Training Camp in 2021. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility, please contact your member club directly.

Players electing to terminate their SPC’s will have both the medical and government wage subsidies cease from the date of release from their contract. This decision will be final once made.

The option to terminate the SPC will be that of the players under the following conditions:
 
A. Players with Contracts expiring in February 2021

Any player, presently under contract with their contract expiring in February 2021, who requests a release from their contract to attempt to secure employment in the NFL or other employment will be granted an immediate release from their CFL SPC on the following conditions:

i. the player must make their election within 7 days of the signing of this MOA

ii. the player after getting his release is not eligible to sign with any other CFL Club until the start of the free agency period in February 2021

iii. the player will not be eligible for CEWS or medical benefit coverage, except for the period of time before making his election.

B. Players with Contracts expiring in February 2022 and beyond

Any player, presently under contract with their contract expiring in February 2022 or beyond, who requests a release from their contract to attempt to secure employment in the NFL or other employment will be granted an immediate release from their CFL SPC on the following conditions:

i. the player must make their election within 7 days of the signing of this MOA

ii. the player after getting his release is not eligible to sign with any other CFL Club during the term of his SPC

iii. should the player wish to return to the CFL after being released by any NFL Club or any other professional football club, he must return to his CFL Club and honour the remaining years of his SPC. Once the player returns to his CFL Club, his medical benefits coverage will be re-instated and CEWS entitlement, if applicable, and all terms of his SPC will apply. The player must make his election to return to his CFL Club by no later than January 31, 2021 for the 2021 season and by January 31, 2022 for the 2022 season. However, if the player has notified the Club of a willingness to report to his Standard Player Contract, the Club shall be required to restore the player to active status not later than ten (10) days following the receipt of such notification from the player. If the member club chooses not to reinstate the player during that 10-day period, the player becomes a free agent. The Club, the CFLPA and the player shall sign a binding MOA setting out these terms before the player is released to attempt to secure employment in the NFL, or any other professional football league. The Player will be eligible for CEWS for the period of time before he makes his election.

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