Riders’ Shaq Evans wants longer player contracts to become a ‘staple in the CFL’

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Saskatchewan Roughriders’ receiver Shaq Evans wants to see continuity across the CFL with more players signing long-term contracts.

“I think that’s definitely something that we should do because that’s one of the main things for an athlete — especially for myself — you want security. You want to feel like a team wants you beyond one year because obviously when you have security, I feel like it makes you more comfortable,” said Evans via videoconference.

“I noticed that my first year in the league in 2018 — guys literally move like puzzle pieces. It’s crazy, all over the league a dude will get traded in the middle of the season and go back to the same team. I’ve seen it all, so definitely I think longer contracts should definitely be a staple in the CFL at some point.”

The CFL’s current CBA allows veterans to sign one-year contracts, which has resulted in a high level of player transience. The agreement is set to expire in May and while there is optimism that negotiations will go smoothly, there is currently no timeline for discussions to formally get underway.

Though he believes the CFL could employ an age limit for requiring rookies to sign two-year contracts, Evans was happy to do so despite being relatively old for a first-year CFL player following a four-year stint in the NFL.

“I signed a two-year deal when I came up here and I was 27 with still NFL ambitions on my mind. I felt like two years was a good thing: the first year you get your feet wet and the next year you take off and become more of a professional and you’re even better prepared for the NFL, especially if it’s your first professional job,” said Evans.

The CFL recently reinstated its NFL window, which permits players to sign with teams south of the border regardless of their CFL contract status. This could encourage more players to sign long-term deals in Canada as they do not have to be pending free agents in order to make the jump to the NFL.

“If you feel like you’re happy in the CFL and you’re good and you want to play up there then I feel like two or three-year deals shouldn’t be a huge issue,” said Evans.

“It makes you feel more like the team really wants you. I know one year doesn’t mean that they don’t want you, but obviously that extra security always adds that extra level of assurance. I think definitely that’s something that the league should look into in terms of longer deals because continuity is hard to build in the CFL because there’s always one-year deals and guys are always moving.”

Evans re-signed with the Riders on Tuesday following a disappointing season during which he missed seven games with a broken leg. He will look to recapture his form from 2019 when he was named a CFL all-star after making 72 receptions for 1,334 yards and five touchdowns and helped Saskatchewan finish atop the West Division with a 13-5 record.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.