CFLPA president Solomon Elimimian: ‘there needs to be more certainty’ for CFL players to sign multi-year contracts

Photo courtesy: CFLPA

Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA) president Solomon Elimimian recognizes that the constant player turnover brought on by one-year contracts has become a problem in the CFL.

“The fans want longer-term deals. I can understand that — it’s hard to buy a jersey and really commit when you don’t know if your favourite player’s going to be there longer than a year. For the players, it comes down to certainty,” Elimimian told The Rod Pedersen Show.

“A three-year contract is really a one-year contract with added terms that’s beneficial for the teams. There needs to be a commitment on both sides, not just the player committing to the team but the team also committing to the players.”

It’s common practice for CFL teams to release players with upcoming off-season roster bonuses to avoid paying them. This occurred on Monday when the Montreal Alouettes cut quarterback Trevor Harris six weeks before he was due a bonus worth $300,000.

“The players that I’ve spoken to, they do want to be part of a community. They do want to be part of teams, but there needs to be more certainty. Our members know that a two, three, four, five-year contract means that: it’s a commitment from both sides,” said Elimimian.

The future Canadian Football Hall of Fame linebacker’s comments align with those of CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay, who spoke with 3DownNation‘s John Hodge in November. It’s a problem that the league and the union are aware of and one they will hopefully address come their collective bargaining sessions this off-season.

Elimimian indicated that the CFLPA has already polled its membership regarding their desires for a new collective agreement. He also commended the players, saying they have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic well and played a key role in ensuring the 2021 season was conducted safely.

“We’re excited to sit down with the league and hash out different issues that are beneficial to both parties,” said Elimimian. The league and the players were able to agree to an amended CBA for a shortened 2021 season, without which the league would not have played this year.

“One thing that I look back and say was very significant and was very successful was the fact that we were partners in terms of how we were going to return to the football field. It wasn’t easy, but if we have the same mindset, if we have the same partnership moving forward, I think the sky’s the limit for where the league could go.”

The CFL and CFLPA has historically ratified collective agreements at the last minute, though Elimimian hopes to start negotiations in January. The league released its 2022 schedule last week with the first preseason game set for Monday, May 23 in Regina.

“As soon as the new year picks up, it’s full-go on our side. We’re ready. We understand the issues that are important to our members and we want to get a deal done as soon as possible and get the right deal done for our members. It’s in nobody’s best interest to have any work stoppage at all,” said Elimimian.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest to find solutions that are beneficial to all parties and to start the 2022 season strong and just pick-up from right where we left off in the Grey Cup with a fantastic game.”