Farhan Lalji wants NHL-style percentage cap to make CFL quarterback salaries ‘sustainable’

Big responsibilities mean big money, that’s just the way it goes at the quarterback position in the CFL.

As the market for premier passers has risen across the league, some have wondered whether the situation has gotten out of hand. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic decimating the league’s financials, one prominent voice believes a solution must be implemented.

“I just don’t think that it’s sustainable for quarterbacks to be making $700,000 anymore, given what the leagues finances are going to look like in the short term. When I say short-term, we’re not just talking about 2021, but we’re talking about a few years after that as well,” TSN insider Farhan Lalji told The Jason Gregor Show.

“If it’s me, would I put a cap on quarterback salaries? I wouldn’t necessarily do it that way. I would take the NHL model where no one player can make more than a specific percentage of the cap.”

The NHL currently has rules in place that no player can sign a contract with an aggregate value between salary and bonuses of more than 20 percent of the salary cap. That number would likely be set lower in the CFL given the number of players on a football team. In 2019, B.C. Lions quarterback Mike Reilly’s contract — estimated at $725,000 — would have amounted to 13.5 percent of the CFL salary cap.

“If you’re Connor McDavid, you can only make so much based on what the cap is and I think the CFL should be doing the same thing and slot those quarterback salaries in that way,” Lalji continued.

“It makes sense because when you’ve got the salaries the way they are — and yes, it’s a passing league and a quarterback-driven league — those quarterbacks still need to be standing upright. They still need to have players that they can throw the ball to that are elite and can get open in man-to-man coverage.”

The league has already undergone a quarterback salary reset of sorts this offseason. The league absorbed between $60 and $80 million dollars in losses last season and expect more in 2021, prompting teams to spend only to the salary cap floor.

Every CFL quarterback renegotiated their contract to accommodate, but most veteran players took similar cuts. A percentage cap is still needed for long term sustainability and to bring more balance to positional spending.

“I think you need to find a way to equalize that a little bit. I’m not suggesting the quarterback should make $150,000 but there’s probably a number there, whether it’s in the $400,000 to $500,000 window where they need to get capped out,” Lalji insisted.

Some worry that a reduction in quarterback salaries could result in the loss of passing talent, particularly if a non-aligned XFL enters the equation. That is not something Lalji finds particularly concerning.

“If you’re talking about Vernon Adams Jr. and Cody Fajardo money in the low $400,000s, that’s a pretty good wage, right?” he added. “Most quarterbacks wouldn’t say no to that.”

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