Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/5/2019 (283 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Despite what’s been contentious negotiations in recent weeks, the Canadian Football League and the CFL Players’ Association have come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The deal, first announced by the league early Wednesday, still requires ratification from the players and approval from the CFL’s board of governors.
The current CBA, which was renewed in 2014, is set to expire Saturday.
"It’s not anything I worried about. I was quite confident that not only would they get a deal done but whenever they did we were going to be prepared for Week 1," said Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea, following Day 1 of rookie camp Wednesday. "Whatever time frame they gave us and however it ended up, we’re just going to adjust the schedule, carry on and it would be just like we planned it."
O’Shea said he wasn’t monitoring the negotiations closely, outside of getting regular updates from Bombers president and CEO Wade MIller.
"I’m not going to call and interfere and ask questions. Wade did a good job of keeping us abreast of the situation."
Details of the new agreement were not disclosed, but some information has been leaked and reported by various media outlets.
Free Press sources confirmed the new CBA is a three-year deal, with an increase of just $50,000 on the 2018 salary cap of $5.2 million; after that, the cap is expected to jump $50,000 for each additional year.
The minimum salary is also reported to be on the rise to $65,000, up from $54,000 in 2018, but that bump isn’t supposed to go into effect until the 2020 season.
"The net effect of the #CFL salary cap going up less than 1% and the minimum salaries going up 20% is that veteran players will have to take pay cuts next off season," reported TSN’s Farhan Lalji, over Twitter.
The net effect of the #CFL salary cap going up less than 1% and the minimum salaries going up 20% is that veteran players will have to take pay cuts next off season.— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) May 15, 2019
Lalji, who works closely with the league as an employee of TSN, the major TV rights holder of the CFL, is also reporting a number of other items in the new CBA, including:
1. Players will receive revenue sharing of 20 per cent of the TSN deal, CFL 2.0 – the league's global initiative – and more.
2. Three years of medical coverage.
3. Canadian quarterbacks will now be included in the ratio.
4. Among the American starters, three of them must have played three years with their existing teams or four years in the CFL, in an effort to protect veteran players and build continuity.
As for a change to the number of Canadian starters – currently set at seven – reports suggest there won't be any movement on that front. CFL rosters, under this new agreement, will also require 21 Canadians on their 44-man game-day roster – the same totals as 2018.
According to Free Press sources, the new CBA also includes a spot for one "global" player, a key part of CFL 2.0. That spot would be added to the lineup, increasing it to a 45-man roster so not to mess with the current number of Canadians and Americans.
A major point of contention between the two sides was over long term disability coverage. As it currently stands, players are insured by their respective teams for up to one year from the date of injury. Under the new deal, players would be covered for three years, meaning any serious injury that required multiple surgeries to recover would presumably be covered under the new agreement.
While the news of a new CBA could certainly be viewed as a positive step towards reaching a resolution, fans should proceed with caution.
The first red flag: it's the CFL, which has been nearly invisible throughout negotiations, that reported a deal had been reached. Sources tell the Free Press that the league is prepared to proceed with the proposed agreement, leaving it up to the players to give it the final check mark of approval.
The CFLPA, however, has yet to issue a statement. Furthermore, while rookie camps officially opened on Wednesday, some veteran quarterbacks – players that almost always voluntarily committ to the three-day camp – were nowhere to be seen. That included Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols and backup Chris Streveler.
Bryan Bennett, a four-year CFL veteran and No. 3 pivot for the Bombers, chose to attend camp.
"It's something that I felt, for me, in talking with Matt and Chris, that I needed to be out here to compete and do what I needed to do," Bennett said. "We all realize that Matt and Chris had a bigger role than I did and, for me, I'm still battling everyday and there are reps out there that I couldn't afford to miss."
Bennett added he felt there was some uncertainty around the deal but that he had full trust in the CFLPA.
"Looks like we've come to an agreement and it's in progress of making it happen and that's about all I know about it," he said.
Other players from across the league have voiced their opinions online, with mixed results.
"I tip my hat to the @CFLPA - this is a MASSIVE step in the right direction," Calgary Stampeders punter Rob Maver, who is Canadian, wrote on Twitter.
"Nice! Now let’s play some Football!!!," tweeted TSN's Matt Dunigan, a former CFL quarterback and head coach.
Nice! Now let’s play some Football!!! https://t.co/eSENBXilYo— Matt Dunigan (@MattDuniganTSN) May 15, 2019
"My sentiment exactly!...," responded Montreal offensive lineman Tony Washington.
Hamilton receiver Shamawd Chambers tweeted, "Lol ??????? can’t wait to hear this."
Washington responded, "Lmao you got that feeling to huh?"
That solicited a response from John Bowman, the veteran Montreal Alouettes defensive lineman, who participated on the CFLPA's bargaining committee.
"So y’all don’t think we did the best we could? Y’all think we just laid down?," he tweeted.
Washington countered by saying he'd direct message Bowman.
Later, Bowman tweeted: "... like you I was skeptical. But I can tell you being in that room this yr we had to fight for everything. And no matter what you never get everything you want and ppl are never satisfied lol that’s life."
If the deal isn't approved, it would set off the potential of a two-tiered CFL player strike. In the event negotiations need to continue, and more time is required beyond Saturday's expiry date, players with the B.C. Lions, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes will be in a legal strike position come the start of training camp Sunday and aren't expected to report.
Players from the other five teams in Alberta (Edmonton and Calgary) and Ontario (Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton) would be required to report in order to meet the province's labour laws, but would join the strike by May 23. It would be at that point the CFLPA is expected to give the go-ahead on a full work stoppage.
— with files from the Canadian Press
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.
Updated on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 6:00 PM CDT: Full write through
6:15 PM: Adds photos
6:36 PM: Fixes typos.
10:17 PM: Final version