The CFL’s 20 highest-paid offensive linemen for the 2023 season

Photo: Nik Kowalski/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Offensive linemen might do unglamorous work outside of the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t paid handsomely to do it. In the case of these 20 players, that is especially true.

Over the next week, 3DownNation will be unveiling the CFL’s highest-paid players at each positional group. We’ve already published the quarterbacks, running backs and fullbacks, and receivers list. Tomorrow we’ll be moving on to the defensive linemen.

“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 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 player sees the field, their yardage production, scoring touchdowns, being named an all-star or winning 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) Drew Desjarlais, Ottawa Redblacks (N)

Hard money: $250,500
Maximum value: $256,500

The Redblacks lured Desjarlais back from the NFL by making him the league’s highest-paid offensive lineman. The 26-year-old guard received a $40,000 signing bonus and will collect another $20,000 once he reports to training camp. While most of his deal is in the form of hard money, he can receive an additional $1,000 for being named a divisional all-star, $2,000 for a CFL all-star selection, and $3,000 for winning a Most Outstanding Player award.

2) Mark Korte, Edmonton Elks (N)

Hard money: $220,000
Maximum value: $229,000

Last year’s top earner at the position was recently knocked off his pedestal but consoled himself with a $50,000 offseason bonus on January 15. The 26-year-old continues to be regarded as an elite centre and can earn an extra $2,000 for a divisional all-star selection, $3,000 for league honours, and $4,000 for winning a Most Outstanding Player award.

3) David Beard, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (N)

Hard money: $200,000
Maximum value: $207,500

After starting last season on the same roster as Korte, Beard and his massive contract were traded to Hamilton. The 30-year-old centre is even more expensive this year, though the entire hard money portion of his contract takes the form of salary. He can also receive $1,500 if he’s chosen as a divisional all-star and $3,000 each for a CFL all-star selection or a Most Outstanding Player win.

4) Joel Figueroa, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (A)

Hard money: $199,800
Maximum value: $205,800

Elite tackles are hard to come by these days and Hamilton secured theirs in free agency by making Figueroa the league’s highest-paid American blocker. The 33-year-old received an $80,000 signing bonus in exchange for leaving the B.C. Lions but can also collect standard performance bonuses of $1,000 for becoming a divisional all-star, $2,000 for becoming a CFL all-star, and $3,000 for winning a Most Outstanding Player award.

5) Dariusz Bladek, Toronto Argonauts (N)

Hard money: $190,000
Maximum value: $200,000

The spiritual leader of the Argos offensive line last season, Bladek got a nice pay bump and collected a $40,000 signing bonus to re-sign in January. The 29-year-old right guard will receive an additional $10,000 bonus after he takes his first offensive snap of the season.

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

6) Sean McEwen, Calgary Stampeders (N)

Hard money: $190,000
Maximum value: $196,000

After earning his third career CFL all-star selection, McEwen renegotiated his deal with Calgary in exchange for a $30,000 signing bonus. Should the 29-year-old repeat as an all-star, he’ll earn $1,000 for making the divisional team and $2,000 for league honours. Similarly, he can collect $1,000 if he is the team nominee for any major league award and $2,000 if he wins it.

7) Ryan Hunter, Toronto Argonauts (N)

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

After finally joining the Argos late last season on a league-minimum contract, Hunter quietly re-negotiated his deal in January in order to receive a $60,000 signing bonus. The 28-year-old NFL veteran will earn an additional $5,000 bonus if he is named a divisional all-star in his first full CFL season.

8) Stanley Bryant, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)

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

Winning four Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman trophies has its privileges, including receiving the entirety of your contract in hard money. The 36-year-old left tackle has no performance incentives in his latest extension with the Bombers and collected $80,000 up front in the form of a signing bonus.

9) Michael Couture, B.C. Lions (N)

Hard money: $178,800
Maximum value: $188,800

Signing in B.C. might have been a homecoming for Couture but the 29-year-old centre didn’t take much of a hometown discount. Instead, he received a $35,000 signing bonus and will collect another $10,000 after the first game he plays.

10) Brandon Revenberg, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (N)

Hard money: $176,000
Maximum value: $201,000

After four straight CFL all-star selections, you can expect Revenberg to receive a raise when his contract expires next offseason but he’ll still be a top earner at his position in 2023. The 30-year-old left guard is scheduled to earn a $20,000 report-and-pass bonus, another $10,000 once he takes his first snap, and $500 for every game where he plays 51 percent or more of the offensive snaps. He will also receive $1,000 for another divisional all-star selection, $2,000 for league honours, and $3,000 if he is finally able to obtain an elusive win on CFL awards night.

Photo courtesy: Ticats.ca

11) Chris Van Zeyl, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (N)

Hard money: $176,000
Maximum value: $191,000

Set to turn 40 in September, Van Zeyl has played just 13 games combined over the last two seasons but is still a ratio-breaking talent at right tackle. He was scheduled to receive a $20,000 bonus and can earn $500 for every game he plays more than half of the offensive snaps. He will also collect $1,000 for a divisional all-star selection, $2,000 for becoming a CFL all-star, and $3,000 for winning a league award.

12) Philip Blake, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

Hard money: $170,000
Maximum value: $175,000

The Roughriders believe that Blake can start anywhere on their offensive line, including at tackle. They paid the 37-year-old accordingly to win his services in free agency, including a $30,000 signing bonus. He can receive $1,000 for repeating as a divisional all-star, and $2,000 for both a CFL all-star selection and a league award win.

13) Zack Williams, Calgary Stampeders (N)

Hard money: $167,000
Maximum value: $182,000

Williams established himself as an elite left guard last season, signing a two-year extension with the Stamps that included a $36,000 signing bonus. The 26-year-old will earn another $10,000 for his first game on the active roster, as well as performance incentives of $1,000 for a divisional all-star nod, $2,000 for a CFL all-star selection, and $2,000 for winning any league award.

14) Jacob Ruby, Ottawa Redblacks (N)

Hard money: $161,000
Maximum value: $176,000

Ottawa’s right guard will collect $30,000 when he reports to training camp and stands to earn an extra $500 for every game he plays 51 percent or more of the offensive snaps. The 30-year-old earned the first East Division all-star selection of his career in 2022 and will receive $1,000 for repeating the achievement, $2,000 for becoming a CFL all-star and $3,000 for a Most Outstanding Player award.

15) Evan Johnson, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

Hard money: $160,000
Maximum value: $168,600

The second year of Johnson’s contract in Saskatchewan includes a $20,000 report-and-pass bonus, as well as performance incentives of $1,000 for a divisional all-star selection, $2,000 for a CFL all-star selection, and $2,000 for an award win. The 28-year-old also has an unusual clause in his contract that will pay him an extra $200 for any game in which he handles more than half of the long snapping, in addition to his regular duties at right guard.

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

16) Peter Godber, Saskatchewan Roughriders (N)

Hard money: $160,000
Maximum value: $166,000

The Riders’ second offensive line addition in free agency received a $30,000 signing bonus to come over from the B.C. Lions. The 28-year-old centre can earn bonuses of $1,000 for a divisional all-star selection, $2,000 for a CFL all-star selection, and $3,000 for winning a major league award.

17) Sukh Chungh, B.C. Lions (N)

Hard money: $155,000
Maximum value: $190,000

At 31 years old, it seems that Chungh values certainty in his contracts. The homegrown right guard received a $50,000 signing bonus to re-up with the team this offseason and will collect another $35,000 bonus the first time he plays one percent of snaps in a game, with no other incentives written into his contract.

18) Ryan Sceviour, Calgary Stampeders (N)

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

After earning his first divisional all-star selection last year at right guard, Sceviour inked a sizeable one-year extension that included a $25,000 signing bonus. He’ll receive an additional $500 for every game he plays more than one percent of the snaps, $1,000 for a second divisional all-star selection or team award nomination, and $2,000 for a league all-star selection or award win.

19) Sean Jamieson, Montreal Alouettes (N)

Hard money: $142,000
Maximum value: $164,000

Montreal lost their 28-year-old centre in October of last season to a torn ACL but he remains their highest-paid offensive lineman, with a $15,000 report-and-pass bonus scheduled for the start of training camp. Jamieson will collect another $1,000 for every game he plays 51 percent of the snaps or more, along with all-star bonuses of $1,500 for the division and $2,500 for the league.

20) Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (A)

Hard money: $140,000
Maximum value: $166,000

The Bombers have the league’s best right tackle, inking Hardrick to an extension with a $30,000 signing bonus. The 32-year-old will take home another $15,000 after his first game of the year, $5,000 more after his ninth appearance and standard incentives of $1,000 for a divisional all-star selection, $2,000 for a CFL all-star selection, and $3,000 for a major award.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.