The CFL Players’ Association ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the CFL on Thursday night, bringing an end to a dispute that saw an earlier deal rejected.
The CFLPA made the announcement in an email and players voted after the two sides sought out a seven-year tentative agreement. The league’s exhibition season is set to open on time Friday night as the players have accepted the agreement.
“I’m just happy for the players and proud of these guys and not only just them, the staff, the equipment guys, the fans, the medical team here, everyone involved. I’m just happy that we’re back to playing football,” Brett Lauther, Saskatchewan Roughriders kicker and CFL player rep, said.
He added that there have been many ups and downs but he’s glad it’s over for everyone and they can get back to playing football.
The CFLPA did not provide the voting results. Players on six of the nine CFL teams had to accept the deal for it to be ratified, with the required margin being at least 50 per cent plus one of the ballots in favour.
“The biggest thing, I guess, is the revenue sharing. There was some stuff, obviously, in our side that was still a sticking point that we fought for for a while. But we’re just one team over here. There’s nine teams involved, 600 members. So what we might have been fighting for, what we like, might it be different across the board and in those rooms,” Lauther said when asked what he likes most about the deal.
According to sources, CFL teams will have seven Canadian starters and 21 in total on rosters this year. In 2023, that number increases to eight, with one being a nationalized Canadian — an American who has spent either five years in the CFL or at least three with the same team.
Clubs will also be able to rotate two nationalized Canadians for up to 49 per cent of snaps. Teams can move to three nationalized Canadians in 2024 but the two franchises that play the most Canadians at the end of the season will receive additional second-round draft picks.
The seven pure Canadian starters per game will remain intact throughout the term of the deal, which can be reopened after five years when the CFL’s broadcast agreement with TSN expires.
When asked how he feels about being back in the community, Lauther said he loves Saskatoon.
“I love every time we get to come up here for camp. I missed it for a few years. It’s a good change, a great campus, food’s awesome. There’s a lot of fans up here that support us year-round and drive to the games. I’m just happy to be back and meet them tomorrow and hopefully a lot of people show up, even though I think it’s calling for rain,” he said.
“I was just saying thanks for everyone to come out all week. We got that game tomorrow and then it’s back to Regina. So the fans up here have been great and just trying to say thank you for coming out and supporting us. Appreciate it. Thank you.”
The CFL will also provide $1.225 million in a ratification pool for players. The salary cap this year will remain at $5.35 million and increase to $5.51 million in 2023. It will be $5.99 million in 2028.
“Just coming off of the injury last year and not playing like myself last year and not being myself last year, I’m super motivated because also because we have a great team and a team that can win a championship. And I think that as long as we keep working well, attain that goal,” Roughriders receiver Shaq Evans said.
—with files from Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press.
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