It’s ridiculous that more than 200 CFL players can become free agents in mid-February.
It used to be different. CFL teams used to have 5-10 players whose contracts expired in the offseason. Now it’s between 20 and 30. The Roughriders have 29 potential free agents.
What happened? Well, CFL players used to sign contracts that contained an option clause, an extra year added onto their contracts that kept them with their respective team for one more season. The latest agreement between the league and its players’ association deleted the mandatory option-year clauses for veteran players.
Eliminating the option-year clauses was supposed to give the players more opportunities to move elsewhere, with the ability to increase their salaries. Even though CFL teams are operating under a salary cap, dumping the option-year clause has actually caused massive confusion and wholesale roster turnovers.
The CFL relies on fan loyalty, knowing that faithful fans will buy tickets and buy souvenirs adorned with the names of their favourite players. But the fans can’t be happy that their favourite players sign short-term contracts with their favourite teams, then pursue more money and go to another team. Bring back the option-year clause.