The CFL is a passing league, so teams need weapons in the receiving corps to help move the ball down the field. Below are the league’s 20 highest-paid receivers heading into the upcoming season.
Over the next week, 3DownNation will be unveiling the CFL’s highest-paid players at each positional group. We’ve already published the quarterbacks list and the running backs and fullbacks list. Tomorrow we’ll be moving on to the offensive linemen.
“Hard money” is a slang term used to refer to any portion of a contract that is paid even if a player suffers an injury during the season. This includes salary, signing bonuses, housing money, workout bonuses, travel allowances, off-season roster bonuses, and report-and-pass bonuses.
Any additional portions of the contract — often referred to as “playtime” — are outlined in part or in full in the paragraph accompanying each player. These bonuses are often tied to how much a players sees the field, their yardage production, how many touchdowns they score, whether or not they’re named an all-star or whether or not they win a league award.
Please note that “N” denotes national players (ie. Canadians) and “A” denotes American players. All contract figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand dollars.
1) Eugene Lewis, Edmonton Elks (A)
Hard money: $320,000
Maximum value: $320,000
The CFL’s new highest-paid non-quarterback got a $120,000 signing bonus to join the Elks after being named the Most Outstanding Player in the East Division with Montreal last year. He will collect another $40,000 when he reports to training camp along with a $125,200 salary over the course of the season.
2) Kenny Lawler, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)
Hard money: $250,000
Maximum value: $258,000
The 28-year-old received a $125,000 signing bonus to return to Winnipeg in free agency after being named a CFL all-star as a member of the team in 2021. Lawler made $305,000 as a member of the Edmonton Elks this past season, catching 58 passes for 894 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games.
3) Steven Dunbar Jr., Edmonton Elks (A)
Hard money: $200,000
Maximum value: $206,000
The six-foot-three, 202-pound target collected a $65,000 signing bonus to join Edmonton following an all-star season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He will also earn a $1,000 bonus if he is named a West Division all-star, a $2,000 bonus if he is named a CFL all-star, and a $3,000 bonus if he is named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player.
4) Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Toronto Argonauts (N)
Hard money: $200,000
Maximum value: $200,000
The Ottawa native was named the Most Outstanding Canadian in the East Division last year and signed a three-year extension with the Argos that included a $55,000 signing bonus. The rest of this deal will be paid out with $129,200 in salary, $13,800 in housing, and a $2,000 training allowance.
5) Tim White, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)
Hard money: $187,000
Maximum value: $220,000
The 28-year-old capitalized on a dominant season, earning a $75,000 signing bonus to return to Steeltown on a one-year deal. He will also make $10,000 in non-football-related services to the club, $775 each time he dresses for a regular season game, and $625 each time he plays more than 51 percent of Hamilton’s offensive snaps in a regular season game.
6) DaVaris Daniels, Toronto Argonauts (A)
Hard money: $180,000
Maximum value: $180,000
The six-year veteran came close to setting a new career-high in receiving yards last year and cashed in, earning a $35,000 signing bonus to return to the Argonauts in 2023. He will also make $5,000 in non-football-related team services.
7) Reggie Begelton, Calgary Stampeders (A)
Hard money: $175,000
Maximum value: $181,000
The 29-year-old got a $35,000 signing bonus to return for two more seasons in Cowtown and will collect another $9,000 after he reports to training camp and passes his physical. He will also earn $1,000 if he dresses for eight games, another $1,000 if he dresses for 15 games, and another $1,000 if he dresses for 18 games.
8) Duke Williams, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)
Hard money: $175,000
Maximum value: $180,000
The six-foot-three, 225-pound target is coming off a down year during which he fought through a number of injuries with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He’ll be looking to build a fast connection with Bo Levi Mitchell in Steeltown as part of the club’s revamped offence.
9) Nic Demski, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (N)
Hard money: $175,000
Maximum value: $175,000
The 29-year-old received a $35,000 signing bonus to ink a three-year extension with his hometown team through 2025 with the value of the deal rising in each respective year. The rest of his earnings for 2023 will be paid in the form of a $140,000 salary.
10) Dominique Rhymes, B.C. Lions (A)
Hard money: $173,000
Maximum value: $193,000
The 29-year-old signed an extension through 2024 with the Lions last month and cashed a $30,000 signing bonus to complete the deal. His salary for the 2023 season is $117,000 and he will earn another $20,000 the first time he makes B.C.’s active roster come the regular season.
11) Kaion Julien-Grant, Montreal Alouettes (N)
Hard money: $165,000
Maximum value: $171,000
The 26-year-old got a $30,000 signing bonus to ink a two-year extension with the Alouettes through 2024 instead of testing free agency. His deal also includes a $10,000 bonus for reporting to training camp and passing his physical as well as $10,000 in non-football club services.
12) Lucky Whitehead, B.C. Lions (A)
Hard money: $159,000
Maximum value: $174,000
The former CFL all-star recently received a $70,000 signing bonus to rework his deal for the 2023 season. He will also be paid a $5,000 bonus each time he returns a punt or kickoff for a touchdown with the Lions this season.
13) Brayden Lenius, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)
Hard money: $152,000
Maximum value: $152,000
Lenius recently redid his deal with the Riders and earned a $30,000 signing bonus in order to do so. He will also earn a $2,000 travel bonus along with $5,000 in non-football-related services to the team.
14) Greg Ellingson, Montreal Alouettes (A)
Hard money: $149,000
Maximum value: $155,000
The 34-year-old target only played eight games with Winnipeg last season but was still highly effective and got a $20,000 signing bonus to join the Alouettes. His deal also includes $110,000 in salary, $13,800 in housing money, $5,000 in non-football team services, and some all-star incentives.
15) Jake Wieneke, Saskatchewan Roughriders (A)
Hard money: $146,000
Maximum value: $162,000
The six-foot-four, 215-pound target received a $30,000 signing bonus to follow Trevor Harris over from the Montreal Alouettes in free agency. He will also earn $1,000 if he leads the Riders in receiving yards, $2,000 if he leads the West Division in receiving yards, and $3,000 if he leads the CFL in receiving yards.
16) Bralon Addison, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)
Hard money: $145,000
Maximum value: $151,000
The 29-year-old will collect a $10,000 bonus when he reports to training camp and passes his physical and another $10,000 the first time he makes this active roster in 2023. He will also earn $1,000 if he is named an East Division all-star, $2,000 if he is named a CFL all-star, and $3,000 if he is named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player.
17) Dillon Mitchell, Edmonton Elks (A)
Hard money: $143,000
Maximum value: $150,000
The 25-year-old received a $60,000 signing bonus in October 2022 to ink a three-year contract extension with the team late last year. He will also receive $389 each time he plays more than 51 percent of Edmonton’s offensive snaps in a game this year, maxing out at $7,000 over the course of the season.
18) Malik Henry, Calgary Stampeders (A)
Hard money: $141,000
Maximum value: $182,000
The West Georgia product cashed in on a 1,000-yard season this past year, signing a three-year contract extension that included a $25,000 off-season roster bonus on Jan. 15, 2023. He has some large playtime bonuses in his contract as he will collect $5,000 if he dresses for six regular season games, $10,000 if he dresses for 12 regular season games, and $15,000 if he dresses for 18 regular season games.
19) Jaelon Acklin, Ottawa Redblacks (A)
Hard money: $140,000
Maximum value: $196,000
The three-year veteran will earn a $50,000 bonus the first time he makes the active roster this season, which will put him among the league’s highest-paid targets. He also has a $1,000 bonus for being named an East Division all-star, a $2,000 bonus for being named a CFL all-star, and a $3,000 bonus for being named the CFL’s M.O.P.
20) Nate Behar, Ottawa Redblacks (N)
Hard money: $137,000
Maximum value: $157,000
The native of London, Ont. got a $25,000 signing bonus to return to the nation’s capital on a two-year contract extension this off-season. He will also collect $700 each time he plays more than 51 percent of Ottawa’s offensive snaps in 2023 along with $1,000 if he reaches 1,000 receiving yards.