Insider Talk: CFL salary cap, draft opt outs & off-season roster bonuses

Who doesn’t like gossip?

Insider Talk will be a new weekly feature on 3DownNation every Wednesday. It will include quotes and insight from anonymous sources that I’ve gathered from around the CFL.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that this format was inspired by Kirk Penton’s work for Postmedia and The Athletic. Penton is one of my all-time favourite CFL reporters and someone I’m proud to call a friend.

Without further ado, here’s the latest chatter from around the league. Enjoy it and come back next week for some more Insider Talk.

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We’ve been told that we’re not supposed to guarantee money to any of our pending free agents. No signing bonuses for anyone. Cash is tight. We can’t risk giving a guy $20,000 up front if he comes in and fails his physical. I know there are other teams planning to do the same.

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Did you see that Edmonton has six coaches on their staff? Six! I guess (general manager) Brock (Sunderland) and (head coach) Scott (Milanovich) weren’t willing to take pay cuts to afford more help. That’ll hurt them.

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Most teams are in salary cap hell right now but you know which one isn’t? Toronto. Say what you want about him, but John Murphy has really cleaned up that roster and their spending. They’ll have (cap) space to add talent when most other teams don’t.

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I don’t see (Oklahoma State linebacker Amen) Ogbongbemiga as an NFL player. Guys his size (six-foot, 235 pounds) are a dime a dozen down there. You have to run really, really great to make it at his size (in the NFL) and I don’t think he does. He’ll end up in the CFL sooner than a lot of people think.

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There are a few guys with off-season roster bonuses in early-mid January — Zack Evans, Adam Bighill, David Beard. We’re all waiting to see what happens with those. There’s no way everyone will just pay them as is.

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Did you see that B.C. has now replaced minorities (Ed Hervey, Torey Hunter, DeVone Claybrooks) with all non-minorities in the coaching and front office staff (Neil McEvoy, Rick Campbell, Ryan Rigmaiden)? … They’ve even seemingly pushed Geroy (Simon) to the side with Rob (Ralph) doing all the draft stuff.

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I’m pissed off with the U Sports coaches who told their guys to opt out of the (2021 CFL) draft. What’s the point? Tons of guys get drafted every year, go to (CFL training) camp, get cut and go back to school. There were at least ten guys with draftable grades who aren’t there (in the draft) anymore.

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The market for all the top Canadian o-linemen used to be $200,000. You know, guys like Brendon LaBatte, Chris Van Zeyl, Matt O’Donnell. If the minimum ($65,000) doesn’t go down and we’re only spending to the floor, I’m not sure those guys will be over $150,000 or $160,000.

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We’re planning on giving out signing bonuses but only to a few guys. Our two or three most important free agents will get money up front. The rest won’t. In a normal year we’d give out way more (bonuses).

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I think you’re going to see a lot more ‘futures’ (players with NFL opportunities) go high (in the 2021 CFL draft). We all have a full class coming in already (from the 2020 CFL draft) and budgets are tight. Why not take a guy in round one who you might not see for a few years if you can save the money in the meantime?

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Wasn’t Randy Ambrosie’s plan for CFL 2.0 supposed to be about turning global players into stars back in their home countries? The only guy who really did anything last season was (Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ defensive end/linebacker Thiadric) Hansen. I know he played in Europe this year, but I’m pretty sure he’s gone back to being a bus driver now. Who’s buying a bus driver’s jersey?

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I think Terrell Jana (from Virginia) is the guy (who will go first overall in the 2021 CFL draft to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats). He meets their biggest need (at receiver) and probably signs right away (instead of signing in the NFL).

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