What’s scheduled on the upcoming CFL off-season calendar

With the frenzy to sign free agent players fast approaching, roster building is taking centre stage as CFL teams prepare to return to the field in 2021.

Here is a look at what’s ahead on the league’s calendar.

2021 CFL free agency: primer

Players who are not under contract to a CFL club can sign with one at any time, but there is a significant contingent of CFL players whose contracts are set to expire as of February 9 — usually referred to as pending free agents.

And this is how the free agency process works: phase one covers the period from January 31 until noon ET on February 7. During this time, these pending free agents can communicate with the team they are currently under contract with and with any of the other eight clubs in the CFL. This is known as the negotiation window for pending free agents.

Phase two goes from noon ET on February 7 until noon ET on February 9. During this 48-hour time period, these pending free agents can sign a new contract with the team they are currently with but not with any other franchise.

Next comes phase three: from noon ET on February 9 onwards, these players can sign with any CFL team. This is the time period during which some big names traditionally change teams.

2021 Global Draft: date and order

The 2021 Global Draft, for players from outside the United States and Canada, will take place on Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 1 p.m. ET. The draft order for the first round was determined by a random draw in which every CFL team had an equal chance at getting the first pick.

Subsequent rounds will follow a ‘snake’ format. That means the reverse order of the previous round. For example, barring trades, the team that had the first pick in round one will have the last pick in round two.

The Global Draft will consist of four rounds. A total of 36 prospects will be selected from leagues and federations with partnership agreements with the CFL.

Below is the Global Draft order:

2021 CFL GLOBAL DRAFT ORDER
ROUND 1 ROUND 2
1.  BC 10.  Ottawa
2.  Edmonton 11.  Hamilton
3.  Toronto 12.  Calgary
4.  Winnipeg 13.  Montreal
5.  Saskatchewan 14.  Saskatchewan
6.  Montreal 15.  Winnipeg
7.  Calgary 16.  Toronto
8.  Hamilton 17.  Edmonton
9.  Ottawa 18.  BC
ROUND 3 ROUND 4
19.   BC 28.  Ottawa
20.   Edmonton 29.  Hamilton
21.   Calgary via Toronto 30.  Toronto via Calgary
22.   Winnipeg 31.  Montreal
23.   Saskatchewan 32.  Saskatchewan
24.   Montreal 33.  Winnipeg
25.   Calgary 34.  Toronto
26.   Hamilton 35.  Edmonton
27.   Ottawa 36.  BC

2021 CFL Combine presented by New Era goes virtual

Due to COVID-19, combine testing, football drills and interviews will be conducted remotely, using video and online tools. For this year only, this approach replaces the traditional in-person gathering of young prospects and football personnel from the league’s nine member teams.

These modifications apply to all CFL combines and all prospects.

2021 CFL Draft: refresher

The CFL has not yet announced the date for the CFL Draft of Canadian players from U Sports in Canada and NCAA teams in the United States.

Although, the league has revealed some modifications to this year’s draft.

  • The draft order will be determined by a random draw that is equally weighted across the nine CFL teams.
  • The 2021 CFL Draft will feature a “snake” format.
  • The 2021 CFL Draft will be six rounds long instead of the traditional eight rounds. This is in recognition of the fact that 2021 CFL training camps will feature a “double cohort” of Canadian rookies, with a group from each of the 2020 and 2021 CFL Drafts.
  • There will be no territorial selections in the 2021 CFL Draft.
  • NCAA players who are draft eligible in the 2021 CFL Draft, and decide to use their extra year of eligibility, will not have their draft year deferred.

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