Elks re-sign RB James Wilder Jr., who will be vaccinated by training camp: report

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

The Edmonton Elks have signed American running back James Wilder Jr. to a one-year contract extension, according to Dave Campbell of 630 CHED. He was slated to become a free agent next month.

#Elks have signed their leading rusher from last season James Wilder Jr. to a one-year contract extension through the 2022 #CFL season. Wilder just received his first vaccine dose and will be fully vaccinated well in time before the start of training camp.

Wilder Jr. was a bright spot for the Elks in an otherwise miserable 2021 season, recording 142 carries for 770 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown.

“I’m humbled and grateful to be back with the Green and Gold. I couldn’t be happier with the new staff that has so graciously embraced me from our very first conversation. Their positive energy and enthusiasm for this game we all love is infectious and I can’t wait to get back to work this season,” said Wilder in a press release.

“I hope Edmonton is home for a long time and I’m committed to doing my part both on and off the field to help this organization win the Grey Cup. My commitment includes my decision to be vaccinated, which will help ensure the health of everyone on our team.”

The 29-year-old spoke publicly during the 2021 season about being unvaccinated against COVID-19. He later claimed that other players around the league had contacted him to express their support for his decision.

Wilder Jr. had previously retired from the CFL because of uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season that would eventually end up being cancelled due to the concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Montreal Alouettes signed Wilder Jr. to a one-year contract for that 2020 season. He requested and received his release from the Toronto Argonauts in late November after playing 14 games for the double blue in 2019, the final year of his contract.

The six-foot-three, 232-pound back began his CFL career as a member of the Toronto Argonauts. In his first season, the running back recorded 872 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while adding 467 yards receiving on his way to CFL Most Outstanding Rookie honours.

Prior to coming north of the border, Wilder Jr. spent two seasons on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice roster and had a stint with the Buffalo Bills.