Realty One

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Toronto Argonauts running back James Wilder Jr. has decided to sit out the 2018 CFL season.

The CFL's top rookie last season issued a statement Wednesday saying he's received interest from "several NFL teams'' this off-season. Wilder Jr., who's under contract with Toronto through the '18 campaign, said he's reached out to the Argos several times but they're unwilling to allow him to pursue those opportunities so he'll skip playing in Canada this season to safeguard against a potential "career-ending injury.''

"It's a decision I've prayed on while speaking at length with the people closest to me, including my mentors,'' Wilder said. "I wish it could be different.

"I don't want to put my football dreams aside but as a father of four, playing for $56,000 Canadian (about US$45,000) without any potential protection from career-ending injury isn't enough to give my family comfort.''

Wilder Jr. added the Argos weren't willing to re-do his CFL deal ``to reflect the value I believe I bring to the team.''

The six-foot-three, 232-pound Wilder Jr. enjoyed a stellar first season with Toronto. After starting the year playing primarily special teams, Wilder Jr. became the Argos' starting running back and in 10 starts ran for 872 yards (7.2-yard average) and five TDs while adding 51 catches for 533 yards.

Wilder, 25, was a one-man show in Toronto's 34-26 home win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Sept. 16. He ran for 190 yards and a TD on 11 carries and added seven catches for 67 yards.

The following week, the former Florida State star rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and had six receptions for 77 yards in a 33-19 victory over the Montreal Alouettes.

After being named the CFL's top rookie, Wilder Jr. capped his season by helping Toronto beat Calgary 27-24 in the Grey Cup game at TD Place in Ottawa.

Argos general manager Jim Popp declined comment when contacted Wednesday night.

After helping the Seminoles win an American college football title, Wilder Jr. entered the '14 NFL draft as a junior but was bypassed. He spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals (2014-15) and Buffalo Bills (2016) before signing with Toronto.

Wilder Jr.'s father, James, was a former NFL running back with Tampa Bay (1981-89), Washington (1990) and Detroit (1990) and remains the Buccaneers all-time rushing leader (5,957 yards).

Wilder Jr. concluded his statement by thanking CFL fans, his Argos teammates and coaches as well as the organization's front office.

"This isn't the end of my football career just a business decision for my family, a minor setback in advance of a major comeback,'' he said. "I hope my decision can be respected and Gold bless you all.''

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)


Anonymous said...

C'mon Jim. Be a good sport and release him to try the NFL. Everyone else does that for their players.

Anonymous said...

Torn on this one, as a CFL fan I loved watching JWJr. last year, I'd hate to see him go. Yet I feel Popp is wrong by not allowing him a chance to improve his situation> If he'd let him go we'd have other quality Americans thinking the CFL is a path to the NFL. The whole deal makes me sad.

Anonymous said...

His brain doesn't work properly. Set aside he has 4 kids and is 25 that's one thing. $56K is for 6 months work and a CFLPA set 4.5 hour work day. - by his logic he'll work 365 days per year at $0. Then get a year older and go tryout for the NFL at 26.

Anonymous said...

Not a great move by the Argos...should have worked something where he is let go to try the NFL but has to come back under a restructured contract agreed on if the NFL doesn't work out.

Anonymous said...

Cut him straight up

Anonymous said...

James Wilder Jr. has every right to sit out. If you aren't happy with your job in the CFL, or any job for that matter, you have the right to quit. The league minimum salary is really what needs to increase. But we all know what will happen if the salary cap increases, even fatter contracts for QB's and Canadian OL. The CFLPA should have done a better job of representing all of it's members last CBA.

Anonymous said...

If he would play this year for 56 grand while he had several teams interested and ends up with any major injury his NFL chance is out the window so what he is doing makes sense.

3RD and 1 said...

2 things missing.
#1 The Toronto Argonaughts have stated they are willing to renegotiate his contract. Probably no where near the money Wilder now thinks he worth but certainly more than what he making now.
Without Wilder the Argos do not win the Eatern final. Lest alone the Grey Cup.
#2 The Argos have a huge concern that NFL teams have approached Wilder without permission. It goes against the bargaining agreement in the worst way. It would be no different than if a CFL team approached Wilder. When your under contract teams in both leagues no better. So I believe the Argos are making a stand on that principal. I don’t believe they are trying to stop Wilder from making more money. However if the all star RB of the Grey Cup champs can be snatched illegally. Then when will it stop. The CFL needs to stand up to this right now.
On the other side. It’s probably a good idea to have all CFL contracts have a section that states “” any player asking for permission in writing to their respective CFL club to talk to any NFL team in the off season. That permission shall be granted. No discussions other than interest should take place until written permission has been given.
This will help keep the flow of good American football players coming to the CFL.
At this point I don’t blame Toronto right now. They are willing to talk money. It’s obvious all Wilder wants is NFL opportunities. Then if nothing works out he will talk money then? Nope sorry Mr Wilder that’s not how it works. Take the extra money TO is offering. Or as you say. Sit out 2018 and possibly make a NFL roster! Then what if you don’t make it.

CJ Evans said...

I agree that the issue overall is the low salaries in the CFL. I can see both sides.. and both are wrong, in my opinion. However, I wouldn't call this a job... it's a work contract. Wilder signed a 2 year agreement for the amount he did. If it was an issue last year during the initial signing, counter the offer or don't sign. Now that he has shown some ability in the CFL game, he wants more money while still having a valid and enforceable contract! Yeah, it sucks that he's making only a little amount of money, but those are the terms that YOU signed... honour it!

The other issue at play is the weak/unenforced contracts of the CFL. Some GM's will allow players out of their contracts to pursue options (EDM, SK). Confusing for a player's rep, I expect! I believe the league office needs to step in and have the teams enforce the terms of the contracts. Or, at the very least, have consistency from team to team on what is permissible for NFL opportunities.

Poor optics on all sides (team, player, & league) with this type of issue!

Dex said...

He can easily make $45k a year as a personal trainer and not risk his future income.

Dex said...

He is doing the right thing. Look what happens to all the guys who finally get the good CFL contracts, just to get cut and have to renegotiate.

Russell Cone said...

I am not sure I maybe understand how the releases work.

Do CFL players get released with term left on their contract to go to the NFL or is it just players, who are set to become FA's, released to sign in the NFL?

Russ from Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

Only room for one man named James on the Argo offense. Salary cap.

@mrt_man said...




Anonymous said...

Why did he sign the contract for that price if he wasn't gonna be happy?

Players don't say I played like shit so here's half my salary back. It's the risk they all take.

Anonymous said...

He came to the CFL as he tried the NFL and it didn't work out.

Now I feel he should honour his 2 year contract and then pursue opportunities the following year.

If we let players run everytime they have 1 good season then how is that fair to our league and fans who are trying to market players etc.

Each player is an investment and to let them go can leave a team in a bind when they weren't expecting that.

Cam Wake knew he had NFL opportunities and finished his CFL contract before he left.

Anonymous said...

What good is a good CFL contract anyway? As soon as a bonus is due you get released! Shoddy, shoddy. This whole thing puts a bad light on the CFL. Are you listening Mr. Ambrosie.

CM said...

CFL needs to get its business organized so players are paid properly. Chris Jones and Trestman make 15x what Wilder makes. No wonder the CFL has no fans in Toronto. They are paying a star player $56K. Kyle Lowry makes 9x more than that in 1 game (US$30M yr do the math). CFL looks mickey mouse get a proper TV contract and reorganize the business properly so players are paid. Higher talent = more big league = more fans. No one in Toronto will think this is beague league when players are paid bush league wages.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Wilder, there are probably thousands of men in North America that would love to be playing pro football right now.
#1 He signed a contract. Live by it. Maybe his agent gave bad advise
#2 How much did me make as a player by being the top rookie and winning the Grey Cup. i know there are some bucks there
#3 If the guy has 4 kids to support, is that the Argos problem??
#4 This job is only 6 months of the year. He can make a buck or two the other 6 months
#5 How many amateur athletes particularly those who compete in the Olympics and world championships work for nothing??. They work just as hard with no pay.
I dont really feel for the guy. You knew the gig going in so quit whining.