The CFL’s ten highest-paid defensive tackles for the 2022 season

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Having a solid interior along the defensive line is essential for the success of any football team. Edge rushers get most of the sacks — and most of the glory — but their job would be infinitely more difficult without the men in the middle helping collapse the pocket.

“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, dressing for a certain number of games, scoring production, being named an all-star or winning a league award.

Players have been listed below in order of hard money from most to least. When two players have the same amount of hard money, the player with the higher maximum value has been listed first.

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

1) Cleyon Laing, Ottawa Redblacks (N)

Hard money: $180,000
Maximum value: $209,000

The four-time East Division all-star collected a $20,000 roster bonus on February 1 and will earn another $20,000 after he reports to training camp and passes his physical. The Edmonton native will also get $1,000 if he wins a year-end team award, $2,000 if he wins a year-end division award, and $3,000 if he wins a year-end CFL award.

2) Woody Baron, B.C. Lions (A)

Hard money: $190,000
Maximum value: $195,000

The three-year veteran only has eleven career sacks but the Lions clearly liked what they saw from Baron on film, giving him a $30,000 signing bonus to come to the west coast in free agency. He will also collect a $35,000 bonus the first time he makes B.C.’s active roster come the regular season.

3) Mike Moore, Montreal Alouettes (A)

Hard money: $160,000
Maximum value: $174,000

The 28-year-old had a career-year in 2019 when he made nine sacks but had only two this past year in Edmonton. He has since been traded to Montreal where his contract includes a $1,000 bonus if he leads the team in sacks, a $2,000 bonus if he leads the division in sacks, and a $3,000 bonus if he leads the CFL in sacks.

4) Dylan Wynn, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

Hard money: $159,000
Maximum value: $177,000

The three-time East Division all-star got a $60,000 signing bonus to remain with the Ticats in free agency after posting 30 tackles and five sacks in 2021. Wynn will collect a $1,000 bonus if he reaches ten sacks this year as well as a $2,000 bonus if he is named a CFL all-star.

5) Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders (A)

Hard money: $151,000
Maximum value: $166,000

The reigning CFL all-star received a $25,000 signing bonus to remain in Cowtown and will collect $500 each time he plays more than fifty percent of the team’s defensive snaps in a game. Rose will also make $1,000 if he is named a West Division all-star and $2,000 if he is named a CFL all-star.

6) Derek Wiggan, Calgary Stampeders (N)

Hard money: $146,000
Maximum value: $161,000

The Queen’s product got a $10,000 signing bonus for the 2022 season and will make $500 each time he plays more than fifty percent of the team’s defensive snaps in a game. Wiggan will also earn $1,000 if he is named a West Division all-star and $2,000 if he is named a CFL all-star.

7) Jake Ceresna, Edmonton Elks (A)

Hard money: $140,000
Maximum value: $149,000

The 27-year-old made 34 tackles and five sacks last year over 13 games and should improve on those numbers in 2022. He will earn a $1,000 bonus if he leads the Elks in sacks, a $2,000 bonus if he leads the West Division in sacks, and a $3,000 bonus if he leads the league in sacks.

8) Micah Johnson, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

Hard money: $132,000
Maximum value: $160,000

The three-time CFL all-star and two-time Grey Cup champion got a $25,000 signing bonus to join the Ticats in free agency and will make another $25,000 when he makes the active roster for the first time. He will also receive $1,000 if he is named an East Division all-star and $2,000 if he is named a CFL all-star.

9) Daniel Ross, Edmonton Elks (A)

Hard money: $127,000
Maximum value: $144,000

The 29-year-old was with Chris Jones briefly as member of the Roughriders in 2016 before a four-year NFL stint between six different teams. He collected a $30,000 signing bonus to reunite with Jones in Edmonton and will make $777 each time he plays more than half of the team’s defensive snaps in a game.

10) Steven Richardson, B.C. Lions (A)

Hard money: $112,000
Maximum value: $160,000

The former Blue Bombers received a $15,000 signing bonus to join the Lions and will collect another $25,000 the first time he makes the active roster. He will also make $1,000 each time he takes more than 50 percent of B.C.’s defensive snaps in a game.

Editor’s note: 3DownNation was unable to source Almondo Sewell’s contract, who would otherwise likely have appeared on this list.