BY: RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF
The upcoming six months in the CFL will be the most important of Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s short reign to date.
Among all of the issues that he has to deal with, the most important will be to successfully negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the players before the current CBA expires just before 2019 training camps.
There are many things big and small that are negotiated between Ambrosie (who represents the CFL governors) and CFLPA President Jeff Keeping and CFLPA Executive Director Brian Ramsay.
Here are five things we would like to see in the next CFL collective bargaining agreement:
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Some thought this would increase player salaries when it was originally announced during the signing of the current deal in 2014. That hasn't happened because there is still only a limited amount of money to go around. All it has done is left fans without a chance to attach themselves to their favourite player because they will be gone in just one season.
Bringing back the option-year will still allow those players who have a shot at the NFL a chance to chase their dreams. It will also allow the CFL to compete with the new AAF who currently allows players to leave for NFL opportunities in the middle of their contracts. If a player does come back to the CFL, they would have to honour the rest of their deal.
2. WORKERS COMPENSATION FOR PLAYERS
At the end of November, CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay addressed the B.C. Federation of Labour congress. His speech highlighted the inadequate health and safety that CFL players currently deal with.
From a CFLPA press release, “Our current contract has limited provisions for the medical care, rehabilitation and wage loss protection when a player is injured. Employers, no matter who they are, have a duty of care for workers who are injured on the job,” said Brian Ramsay.
This will no doubt be the one of the top negotiating points from the PA’s point of view and may also be the biggest sticking point during the next few months.
3. RAISE THE SALARY CAP, EVEN A LITTLE
The 2018 salary cap was set at $5.2-million and it needs to be raised by at least five per cent. The League recently flexed its muscle by placing a cap on football operations, which clearly looked like it was at least, in part, a negotiating ploy for the upcoming CBA talks.
So, with the money taken from the various job losses incurred across the league due to the football ops cap, the CFL should put its money where its mouth is and give some of that to the players.
Also, let’s take practice roster salaries out of the mix. It’s not much money in the grand scheme of things, but if there was a cap number instead of a player limit, then it could give staff more freedom on what to do with the reserves. Maybe throw in a “hometown salary” for those players from the area that need a little more polish before moving on to the big roster.
4. INCREASE THE EDUCATION FUND
It’s not a big thing, but it allows a little more money to go in the players' future allowance jar without it being a big hit to the owners.
5. INCLUDE OFF-SEASON BONUSES
Not a single player will receive any bonus money during this off-season until a new CBA is signed. This was passed down from the CFL head office to the nine clubs.
This is not a great first step in quickly negotiating a new deal and is a ploy by the league to withhold the players of their duly-earned bonus money. We wonder if the CFL governors know that the deal ends in May. The players held up their end, you should too.
This may sound very heavy in favour of the players, but this has never been a player’s league and with so little money to go around it’s time for the players to get a bigger piece of the pie.
Canadian to Watch in the NCAA
We know we said that the Canadians to watch down south was over, but after watching the FCS quarterfinals and seeing the upcoming bowl schedule, we will keep this going until the end of November.
DeShawn Stevens (Soph.) - LB
Hometown – Toronto, Ont.
High School – Kent School (Connecticut)
Class – Jr.
One of the leaders of the Black Bear defence is Canadian sophomore DeShawn Stevens. He led Maine in tackles with 112, second in tackles for loss with 16.5, second in sacks with nine while adding an interception and two fumble recoveries.
Stevens was outstanding in the Black Bears FCS quarterfinals win over Weber State on Friday night with nine total tackles, two TFLs and a sack. He along with starting offensive lineman Liam Dobson (soph.) and the rest of the Black Bears will face the Eastern Washington Eagles Saturday afternoon in the FCS semi-finals.