Running back James Wilder Jr. says he will not be back with the Edmonton Elks next season, alleging that the team has opted to release him while he recovers from a serious neck injury.
The 30-year-old took to Twitter late Saturday night to share the news with fans.
“9 months ago I signed as one of the highest paid RBs in the game coming off a MVP season. This season I broke my neck and was told I need spinal surgery to play. Now (the Edmonton Elks) have no interest no more and I was told that I’m being released with the neck injury and all! Sheeesh!”
The Elks have not yet formally announced Wilder Jr.’s release but have already cleared several aging veterans from their roster, cutting six players on Thursday including tackle Tony Washington and defensive back Duron Carter.
On Monday, the club provided the following statement to 3DownNation: “James Wilder Jr. remains under contract with our Club. We have nothing further to add at this time.”
Wilder Jr. missed the majority of the 2022 season after suffering a spinal injury. In an emotional statement after being placed on the six-game injured list, the veteran ball carrier revealed that the injury would require surgery for him to ever play again. While he emphasized that he was not yet retiring, it is unclear if he has received the necessary operation.
Through three games in 2022, Wilder Jr. has posted 28 carries for 124 yards and nine catches for 90 more. While clearly disappointed in his departure from Edmonton, the running back later tweeted that he understood the decision.
“I Tell my Athletes all the time. It’s a what can you do for me now business. It’s not for everyone. I’m not upset at all, It’s business. Sometimes good sometimes shady but at the end of the day football is BUSINESS!! A dang good one to. I’m always grateful!!!”
The Tampa native previously retired from the CFL because of uncertainty surrounding the cancelled 2020 season but opted to resume his career with the Edmonton Elks last year. He was a bright spot for the Elks in an otherwise miserable 2021 season, coming out of retirement to record 142 carries for 770 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown.
Wilder Jr. had originally signed with the Montreal Alouettes for that 2020 season after he requested and received his release from the Toronto Argonauts in late November.
The six-foot-three, 232-pound back played 44 games over three seasons in Double Blue but gradually fell out of favour with the organization. In his first campaign, Wilder Jr. recorded 872 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while adding 467 yards receiving on his way to CFL Most Outstanding Rookie honours in 2017.
In 59 career games, Wilder Jr. has rushed for 2,917 yards and 11 touchdowns on 530 carries, while catching 191 passes for 1,803 yards and six more scores.