The CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman in 2016, Derek Dennis has decided not to play for the Edmonton Elks in 2021.
Dennis wants to provide for his family and doesn’t feel the contract with the green and gold is worth sacrificing time away and overall well being of his loved ones. He would have been scheduled to earn a pro-rated league minimum base salary of $65,000 with the chance for an additional $1,111.11 per game for playing 51 percent or more of the offensive plays.
There are $4,000 available in performance incentives, West Division all-star $1,000, CFL all-star $2,000, and league’s Most Outstanding Lineman $1,000. That extra $4,000 would make the max out total for Dennis $70,111 before taxes in 2021. For comparison, Dennis earned $160,000 playing 16 games for the Calgary Stampeders in 2019.
“I’m humbly walking away for the time being, but I’m not officially retiring because there is a small chance I will try to play next season in 2022. It’s not an easy decision and I didn’t foresee it happening, but football no longer provides the opportunity to be able to care for my family properly,” Dennis said.
“I appreciate Edmonton for the opportunity to continue my career, but I wouldn’t be a man of my word if family didn’t come first. I’m taking an extended break to care for my two young children and significant other while hoping for a successful season for all my brethren across the league.”
The 32-year-old Dennis has played 72 career games in Canada and was a CFL all-star in 2016 while earning West Division all-star honours in 2016, 2018, and 2019. As a key part of the offensive line, he helped the Stamps win the 2018 Grey Cup at Commonwealth Stadium.
Four of Dennis’ five season’s north of the border have been spent in Cowtown while the other he played in Saskatchewan. The former Roughrider was the highest paid American offensive lineman in the CFL during the 2017 season.
He made over $180,000 that year which was due to rise to nearly $190,000 in the final two years of his original three-year agreement with the green and white. However, Dennis was cut loose shortly after the free agent period started in February 2018. The six-foot-three, 348-pound Dennis rejoined the Stamps and won a CFL title the following November.
The Temple University product went unselected in the 2012 NFL draft, but inked an undrafted free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins. Dennis was released by the fish in July that year by head coach Joe Philbin and it was shown on HBO’s Hard Knocks.
The New England Patriots signed Dennis one week later, but he was released by the Pats at the end of training camp. Dennis spent time on the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers practice squads prior to putting pen to paper with the Stampeders in September 2015. His total NFL earnings were $120,600.
Dennis did not make millions in the NFL and needs to make prudent financial decisions for his family.