3DownNation will be unveiling a series of top-ten lists over the next few days regarding the highest-paid players in the CFL.
We’ve already reported the top-earning quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and offensive linemen, so today we’re shifting to the other side of the ball with defensive linemen.
Please note that salaries, roster bonuses, housing allowances, and performance bonuses have been prorated over the CFL’s shortened 14-game season in 2021. This means players will earn 22 percent less than the values listed under those designations. Only signing bonuses are being paid in full.
Prorated contract values have been listed below in parenthesis beside their full values. In the event that players make the same amount of money, they are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
T-1) DE Kwaku Boateng, Edmonton Elks (N) — $205,000 ($159,000)
The CFL’s highest-paid Canadian received a prorated $30,000 bonus when he took his first snap of the season. The 26-year-old posted 46 tackles and 17 sacks over his previous two seasons in Edmonton (2018-19) but this year has recorded just eight tackles and two sacks in seven games.
T-1) DE Willie Jefferson, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A) — $205,000 ($182,000)
The league’s reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player received a $100,000 signing bonus to ink his new deal with Winnipeg, which boosted his prorated earnings. He will also receive a prorated $5,000 bonus if he is named the West Division’s Most Outstanding Player at the end of the year.
3) DT Cleyon Laing, Ottawa Redblacks (N) — $200,000 ($164,000)
The native of Edmonton collected a $20,000 roster bonus in January and a $20,000 bonus after reporting to training camp. His deal also includes a number of awards bonuses, including a prorated $1,000 bonus if he is named an East Division all-star.
4) DE Ja’Gared Davis, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A) — $180,000 ($149,000)
The 31-year-old received a $40,000 signing bonus to re-up with the Ticats for 2021 as well as a prorated $20,000 bonus after making the active roster for the first time this season. He will earn an additional prorated $1,000 bonus if he leads the East Division in sacks and another prorated $2,000 bonus if he leads the league in sacks.
T-5) DE Charleston Hughes, Toronto Argonauts (A) — $150,000 ($128,000)
The future Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee collected a $50,000 signing bonus to join the Argos and earned an additional prorated $5,000 bonus after dressing for four games. He will receive another prorated $5,000 bonus if he dresses for ten games, though that seems unlikely given that he’s recently been a healthy scratch.
T-5) DT Mike Moore, Edmonton Elks (A) — $150,000 ($133,000)
The five-year veteran got a $75,000 signing bonus to extend his contract with the Elks, which helped maximize the value of his prorated contract. He will earn an additional prorated $2,000 bonus if he leads the West Division in sacks and another prorated $3,000 bonus if he leads the league in sacks.
T-5) DT Derek Wiggan, Calgary Stampeders (N) — $150,000 ($119,000)
The Queen’s product collected a $15,000 roster bonus in February and an additional $10,000 bonus after reporting to training camp. He also receives a $500 bonus each time he makes the active roster for a game and sees the field for a minimum of one play.
8) DE Nick Usher, Montreal Alouettes (A) — $145,000 ($117,000)
The 26-year-old received a $10,000 signing bonus to join the Alouettes and an additional $10,000 bonus after reporting to training camp. He also received a prorated $10,000 bonus after making the active roster for the first time in Week 2, which is a solid payday for a player with ten career sacks.
9) DT Ted Laurent, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (N) — $140,000 ($113,000)
The five-time all-star collected a $20,000 signing bonus and a prorated $20,000 bonus after making the active roster for the first time in 2021. He will earn an additional prorated $1,000 bonus if he is named an East Division all-star and a prorated $2,000 bonus if he is named a CFL all-star at the end of the year.
10) DT Almondo Sewell, Montreal Alouettes (A) — $135,000 ($109,000)
The future Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee got a $20,000 signing bonus to ink his deal with the Als. He quickly took on a leadership role with his new team and has also made an impact on the field, recording 13 tackles and three sacks in nine games from his defensive tackle spot.
Just missed the cut: Leonard would have finished tenth had his suspensions not cost him an active roster bonus.
Best of the rest: DT Dylan Wynn, Hamilton Tiger-Cats; DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders; DE A.C. Leonard, Saskatchewan Roughriders; DT Micah Johnson, Saskatchewan Roughriders; DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Winnipeg Blue Bombers.