The Canadian Football League and its players' association have said yes to a new deal, but so far have said no to implementing a drug-enforcement policy.
CFL commissioner Tom Wright, CFLPA president Stu Laird and Edmonton Eskimos president Hugh Campbell, who is chair of the CFL Player Relations Committee, outlined yesterday the new four-year CBA, which immediately goes into effect and runs through to the end of the 2009 season. Negotiations for the new deal began in February, 2005.
The salient staples of the agreement are:
- A minimum payroll of $3 million for each team, but with no defined cap, although $3.8 million is considered somewhat of a ceiling. There are no penalties for exceeding that number, but they could come into effect pending the on-going discussions with the salary management system. It will be reviewed at the annual general meeting June 13 in Winnipeg.
- Salaries will be tied to at least 56% of league revenues. When revenues increase, the players will share in the growth.
- Money-wise, there are some interesting numbers. The minimum salary remains at $38,000 -- excluding signing and/or performance bonuses -- but will increase by $1,000 each year throughout the agreement. Playoff and Grey Cup bonuses will also increase incrementally. For example, the roster players of this year's Grey Cup-winning team will receive $14,000 each -- an increase of $2,000 -- and the amount will rise each year to a sum of $16,000 in 2009. The players of this year's losing team collect $7,000 apiece -- an increase of $1,000 -- and the amount will rise to $8,000 by 2009.
- Roster sizes go up to 42 from 40, while teams will also be able to carry a four-player reserve squad. The players will receive full salaries as part of the active roster, even if they are essentially scratched in the new three-hour limit prior to games, when teams have to declare their rosters. This is a change from the previous 48-hour period.
The practice roster increases to seven from six.
- A drug-enforcement policy is still not part of the CBA, which makes it unique from other professional sports leagues, but that could be changed in the future.
"The players are not philosophically opposed and we will continue to work on the programs to develop during the course of this agreement," Laird said.
NO DRUG BANS
"If both the PA and ourselves felt it was the right thing I don't think there is anything that binds us to waiting until the end of this collective agreement to do something," Wright said.
The CBA did not take into account a CFL team signing a suspended National Football League player, which has become a hot topic following the Argos' signing of Ricky Williams and Winnipeg's signing of Onterrio Smith.
"Because of recent events I believe there will be further discussions on this, but right now I think there's some confusion as to whether the NFL is supportive of their players being signed if they're suspended or whether they're not," Campbell said.
"It's really not something we discussed in this agreement."