Comprehensive collective bargaining agreement amendments for 2021 CFL season

Photo edit: 3DownNation

The Canadian Football League and the Canadian Football League Players’ Association agreed to a number of amendments to the collective bargaining agreement for the 2021 season.

The comprehensive details on the changes are as follows:

1) Salaries, housing allowances, performance bonuses will be pro-rated to 14/18ths and align with the shortened regular season. Note that MOP and all-star bonuses are pro-rated monetary (i.e. $5,000 for Div. MOP becomes $3,889) put incentives are pro-rated as well (i.e. 1000 yards receiving = $2,000 becomes 778 yards receiving = $1,555.)

2) All report and pass bonuses will be earned in full upon reporting and passing provided players are eligible. Bonuses will be paid out in full in 14 equal instalments over the length of the season (1/14 per game cheque.)

3) There will be no pre-season games and the CFLPA must agree in advance should any clubs wish to have scrimmages or practices with another club in the pre-season period. We have now defined the rules for what a single and power practice is in length of time and amount of contact.

a. Clarity note for the interpretation of Article 6.01.6: For days when single practices are run, they shall be 2.5 hours on the field and up to 5.5 hours in meetings. If a team chooses to run a power practice, it shall be 2 hours in pads and an hour and forty-five minutes with no pads with a 15–20-minute break in between the padded and non-padded parts of the practice. The padded and non padded portions can be in whatever order the team chooses and those portions include stretching time.

4) All players are required to isolate for 14 days prior to the start of training camp and will be compensated: $525/week for veterans and $300/week for rookies. Isolation pay is not eligible for contract advisor fees. Voluntary video/conference calls are allowed, and a schedule will be created mutually by the CFL & CFLPA for those sessions. All accommodations and meals will be provided while players are in their home city. For further clarity, a rookie player is as defined in the CBA and/or a player that has not been on active/injured roster for more than 2 games in 2019.

5) One hundred players (in total, counters and non) will be allowed in training camp for the first 10 days then cut down to 75 (plus non-counters) with a final cut down at the end of training camp.

6) Commissioner will seek input from the CFLPA before rescheduling a game if there is a need to do so.

7) All teams will commence a contribution holiday on medical premiums if the plan remains solvent. If the CFLPA believes there is a risk that the plan will be insolvent, then the club’s contribution will resume. This is important as we have been able to keep the medical plan active without lapse since 2019.

8) Each club will be allowed to carry an additional 5 players on their practice rosters as a CFL taxi squad while border and quarantine restrictions are in place. All teams can pull players off any club’s taxi squad as needed. When border and quarantine restrictions are lifted this clause will become inoperative and the taxi squad will collapse. Players to be returned to their original team once off the active roster and healthy.

a. Each club is required to have 5 additional players as follows: b. 1-OL, (American) 1-DL, (American) 1-DB/LB, (American) 1-REC/RB, (American) 1- Spec/Global.

9) Active roster will be amended to a minimum of 43 and a maximum of 44 plus one reserve. (CBA was to be a maximum of 45 plus one reserve.) There will be 1 Global player on the active roster as well as 2 quarterbacks. A second global player will not be added this year and teams will have the option to dresses one less national player if they so choose.

10) Playoff salary and structure remains as per the current CBA. The CFL has the discretion to add two teams to the playoff formula if they choose at the agreed upon salary in the collective agreement (i.e. no bye, division leaders would play an opponent.)

11) Provision of game tickets shall be suspended due to the limitations in stadiums and reinstated when attendance restrictions are removed (but tickets written into contracts will still be honoured.)

12) Any player found in breach of the return to play and health and safety guidelines will be asked to leave the club with no further pay or compensation. Parties have the right to an expedited arbitration process. These guidelines will be agreed to by the CFL and CFLPA and published beforehand.

13) If a player chooses not to play for his club in the 2021 season he will be placed on the suspended list and will not have to pay back any earned money to date.

14) There will be a reduction in the number of drug tests to in-season testing only for the 2021 season. Education for the performance enhancing policy will be sent to players during the isolation periods.

15) Players who experience a family emergency will seek permission (which will not be withheld) from the club and upon his return will be placed on the disabled list for the period of isolation.

16) CEWS – all members who are eligible will receive the wage subsidy retroactive to May 16th, 2021. This is to be paid no later than July 10th, 2021 as a lump sum (less statutory deductions) (taxes).

17) The CFL agrees to guarantee a minimum 10-game regular season and a post-season under the following conditions: (i) – each stadium where games are scheduled to be player are allowed a minimum of 35% allowed capacity of fan attendance, (ii) – there is no outbreak of COVID that prevents the full schedule of games being played, and (iii) – there is no decision by any public health authority that prevents the full schedule of games being played.

18) The CFL agrees to develop two committees: A joint Pain Management Committee and a joint Equipment Standards Committee as sub-committees of the joint committee on Players health and welfare in Article 31.

19) Release of a veteran player – number of games change to 7, 8, 9 and 11 (for 6-year, 5-year, 4-year and 1-year vet respectively.) (Article 15.)

20) Neg. List 10-day clock SUSPENDED for 2021 UNTIL the quarantine and border restrictions are lifted. (CFL by-laws; section 3, paragraph 15(a).)

21) Players under active roster for a minimum of 3 games in 2019 get credit for 1 “vet year.”

22) CFL will decide by August 15, 2021 if they will have the 30-day NFL window for practice roster expansion.

23) No junior players will be permitted to practice with any clubs.

24) Opt-out provision grievance has been withdrawn.

25) If a player is terminated “outright” from a club, club will delay 24 hours in sending player “home” so that other teams have an opportunity to bring him in if they desire and not be subjected again to quarantine protocol.

26) NFL Window option has not changed (Article 36.)

Note: this will be the first season using two-way contracts. If a player becomes a veteran player and is moved to the practice roster and the club then wants to move him back to the active roster, they must offer him a one-year minimum contract, as he is no longer eligible for an option year.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.