Redblacks’ GM Marcel Desjardins hints salary cut coming for quarterback Nick Arbuckle in 2021

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Ottawa Redblacks’ general manager Marcel Desjardins is preparing his roster for the 2021 season under a reduced budget.

The CFL office and board of governors identified one way to reduce the financial obligations for a potential season that involves cutting player salaries. Each franchise can save $600,000 by spending to the salary cap floor of $4.75 million instead of the $5.35 million ceiling.

“I have had some direction from Mark [Goudie] and from ownership. That salary budget will be substantially lower than it has been. What that exact number is still to be determined. It’ll be much lower,” Desjardins said on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa.

“In this new world we’re in right now, with the impact of COVID-19, and us as an entity trying to be smart with the business, while not knowing what’s ahead for this coming year relative to fans in the stands, it makes for a very, very difficult thing.”

Quarterback Nick Arbuckle was the prized acquisition for Ottawa prior to the 2020 season until it was cancelled due to the coronavirus. After making a trade with Calgary, Desjardins signed Arbuckle to a two-year deal which included a $210,000 signing bonus with $420,000 and $430,000 in hard money and $470,000 total available in year one, $495,000 in year two.

“He does have an off-season payment. Everybody is going to have to look in the mirror and see what they want to do to try to fit in as part of the bigger picture,” Desjardins said.

The football operations cap has been trimmed by 20 percent from just under $2.59 million to $2 million or the equivalent of over $500,000 per team. Add together the general managers, coaches, scouts, equipment people and video personnel savings with the players and it totals nearly $10 million — significant money in the CFL.

“Across the board, whether that be OSEG staff, whether that be coaches, whether that be player personnel type people — everybody has taken reductions. Unfortunately, it’s going to impact the players as well,” Desjardins said.

“$65,000 is the minimum salary, and we have let’s say arbitrarily a third of our roster is at that minimum already, meaning that the bulk of those reductions will have to come from players that are making substantially more than that $65,000 minimum.”