CFL’s receiver salaries for 2022 season

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

You can’t be a passing league without talented athletes to haul in the the long ball and for those you have to pay top dollar.

Below we’ve listed the top-earning CFL receivers for the 2022 season complete with a few details from each contract.

“Hard money” is a slang term used to refer to any portion of a contract that is paid even if a player is hurt. This includes salary, a signing bonus, housing money, workout bonuses, travel allowances, off-season roster bonuses, and report-and-pass bonuses.

Any additional portions — often referred to as “playtime” — are outlined in part or in full in the paragraph accompanying each player. These bonuses are often tied to yardage production, scoring production, being named an all-star or winning a league award.

Please note that “N” denotes national players (ie. Canadians) and “A” denotes American players.

1) D’haquille Williams, Saskatchewan Roughriders (A)

Signing bonus: $60,000
Base salary: $180,000
Hard money: $255,000

The Riders’ broke the bank to keep the 28-year-old former Buffalo Bill in Cody Fajardo’s arsenal and while he likely won’t be the highest paid at the end of the year, Williams has the most hard money coming by a mile. The only performance bonuses available to the former all-star are if he makes that team again, $1,000 for West Division honours and $2,000 for a league nomination.

2) Kenny Lawler, Edmonton Elks (A)

Signing bonus: $0
Base salary: $160,000
Hard money: $177,000

Chris Jones lured the CFL’s 2021 leading receiver to Edmonton with the promise of being the highest paid non-quarterback in the league, but Lawler doesn’t get a dime until he hits the field. In lieu of a signing bonus, the former Bomber will take home a lump sum of $128,000 the first time he makes the active roster on gameday.

Photo courtesy: Dominick Gravel/Montreal Alouettes

3) Eugene Lewis, Montreal Alouettes (A)

Signing bonus: $25,000
Base salary: $86,000
Hard money: $170,000

The Als kept Lewis’ signing bonus on the 2021 salary cap by signing him before January 1, but he took home another $25,000 in offseason money on February 15 and has another $20,000 in hard money in the form of a report and pass bonus. The 2021 all-star can earn another $1,500 if he makes the team again and $3,000 more if he’s named Most Outstanding Player.

T-4) Bryan Burnham, B.C. Lions (A)

Signing bonus: $50,000
Base salary: $103,000
Hard money: $165,000

Some feel that Burnham should have waited to sign and capitalized on the bidding wars at the top of this receiver group, but the long-time Lion still did pretty well for himself. Burnham can earn a $5,000 bonus if he crosses the 1,000-yard threshold for the fifth time in his career, with equal pay days if he becomes a CFL all-star again or wins Most Outstanding Player.

T-4) Greg Ellingson, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)

Signing bonus: $35,000
Base salary: $118,000
Hard money: $165,000

Ellingson managed just 47 catches for 687 yards and a single touchdown in a disappointing final season with the Elks, but he’s now head honcho in Winnipeg’s receiving corps. There are no catches to this contract, as Ellingson doesn’t have a single performance incentive.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Larry MacDougal

T-4) Nic Demski, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (N)

Signing bonus: $0
Base salary: $165,000
Hard money: $165,000

The highest paid Canadian pass catcher in the league, Demski got a $20,000 raise in the second-year of his current contract. He earned it with a career year of 654 yards and four touchdowns last year, but his entire deal comes in the form of salary.

T-7) Jaelon Acklin, Ottawa Redblacks (A)

Signing bonus: $50,000
Base salary: $93,000
Hard money: $155,000

The Redblacks expect Acklin to be Jeremiah Masoli’s safety blanket for the next two seasons, and they’ve payed him accordingly. In addition to a handsome amount of hard money, the Western Illinois product will collect $20,000 once he makes the active roster, $1,000 for an East all-star selection, $2,000 if he is a CFL all-star, and $3,000 if he wins Most Outstanding Player.

T-7) Bralon Addison, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

Signing bonus: $0
Base salary: $143,000
Hard money: $155,000

When healthy, Addison could be the most dynamic receiver in the CFL, but he managed just three games last season. He’s hoping for a better 2022, with a $1,000 bonus for a Divisional all-star nod, $2,000 for CFL all-star honours, and $3,000 if he follows Brandon Banks’ lead to become MOP.

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Larry MacDougal

9) DaVaris Daniels, Toronto Argonauts (A)

Signing bonus: $40,000
Base salary: $99,000
Hard money: $151,000

Entering year six in the CFL, Daniels still hasn’t recorded a thousand-yard season but he’s being paid like an all-star. The 29-year-old will get an extra $500 dollars for every game he plays at least 51 percent of offensive plays, $2,000 if he becomes an East Division all-star, $3,000 for being a CFL all-star, and $5,000 for winning a major league award (to a maximum of two).

10) Jake Wieneke, Montreal Alouettes (A)

Signing bonus: $30,000
Base salary: $98,000
Hard money: $140,000

‘Touchdown Jake’ has been a scoring machine for the Alouettes, but sadly doesn’t have a bonus per major like some other players. His new deal will give him $1,500 for an East all-star nod, $3,000 for making the CFL team, and $5,000 for winning a Most Outstanding Award in any category.

11) Kamar Jorden, Calgary Stampeders (A)

Signing bonus: $20,000
Base salary: $102,000
Hard money: $136,000

Jorden has battled through injuries, but remains one one of the league’s most dangerous weapons when catching passes from Bo Levi Mitchell. He’ll earn $5,000 the first time he plays a snap, but staying healthy will be vital to maximizing his incentives, including $500 every time he plays 51 percent of the snaps. He’ll also collect $1,000 if he’s the team’s Most Outstanding Player or a West all-star and $2,000 if he gets league recognition in either category.

12) Reggie Begelton, Calgary Stampeders (A)

Signing bonus: $30,000
Base salary: $85,000
Hard money: $134,000

If you are shocked to find Begelton so low on this list, you won’t be alone, but the former Green Bay Packer can expect to collect $22,000 the first time he makes the active roster and $500 per game he plays. That is $165,000 total, still tremendous value considering the top of the receiver market.

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions

13) Lucky Whitehead, B.C. Lions (A)

Signing bonus: $50,000
Base salary: $70,000
Hard money: $132,000

At the time of signing, Lucky Whitehead and his helicopter beanie were billed as the highest paid receiver in the league. That changed with Duke Williams and Kenny Lawler, but he still has one of the most complex deals in the league. Lucky will get $20,000 the first time he plays a game and lump sums of $17,000 once he has played six games, 12 games and 18 regular season games. He’ll also receive $5,000 for each punt or kickoff return he takes to the house, added motivation to dominate in the return game.

T-14) Tevaun Smith, Edmonton Elks (N)

Signing bonus: $25,000
Base salary: $93,000
Hard money: $130,000

Only the second national on this list, Smith had a massively disappointing 2021 campaign in which he struggled to be a full-time starter for Jaime Elizondo. All those problems are water under the bridge for the new regime, as Smith can earn $10,000 for producing 750 receiving yards and $5,000 for playing in 12 games. He also has $1,000 dollar bonuses for being a Divisional all-star or MOP nominee, with $2,000 cheques for league honours in either category.

T-14) Shaq Evans, Saskatchewan Roughriders (A)

Signing bonus: $17,000
Base salary: $98,000
Hard money: $130,000

Some were surprised to see Evans return to Saskatchewan following some end of year frustration, but he has motivation to have a major turnaround season thanks to a $1,500 bonus to become the team’s receiving yards leader. He’ll make $2,500 if he leads the entire league in that category as well, a $1,500 bump for being a West all-star, $2,500 for being a CFL all-star, and $3,000 if he wins MOP.

Abbott is a UBC student, youth coach and lifelong CFL fanatic. He specializes in coverage of the CFL draft and the league's global initiative.