2020 CFL season

Last updated

2020 CFL season
Regular season
DurationJune 11 – November 2020
(season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada)
  2019
2021  

The 2020 Canadian Football League season would have been the 67th season of modern Canadian professional football. Officially, it would have been the 63rd season of the league.

Contents

It was originally scheduled to begin on June 11; on April 7, the start of the season was delayed no sooner than July due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. The CFL planned to obtain financial assistance from the federal government. In May, the CFL delayed the season to no sooner than September, and announced that the Grey Cup was to be played as a home advantage game rather than as a neutral site game in Regina, Saskatchewan as originally planned. In July, the CFL announced plans to tentatively play all games in Winnipeg, Manitoba as a "hub city".

On August 17, the CFL announced that the season had been cancelled, citing the league's inability to obtain appropriate loans and subsidies from the federal government in order to cover operating costs and compensate for playing behind closed doors without paid ticketholders.

League business

Salary cap

Per the collective bargaining agreement, the 2020 salary cap was at least $5,300,000 (average of $115,217 per active roster spot). [1] [2] [3] That number is subject to change as players will now have revenue sharing of 20% from broadcast deals with TSN and international deals. [3] The base individual minimum salary increased to $65,000 in 2020 for National and American players and was set at $54,000 for Global players. [2] [4] CFL Draft picks will be subject to a pay scale starting in this season, with first round picks earning $80,000, at maximum, with the lowest round picks earning a maximum of $75,000. [2] [5] All National and Global players signing their first CFL contracts have to sign two-year plus an option contracts while first-year American players must sign one-year plus an option contracts. [5]

Atlantic Canada expansion

On December 10, 2019, the proposed revival of the Atlantic Schooners expansion team received a $20 million one-time rebate from the Halifax government towards the building of a stadium there, conditional upon support from the government of Nova Scotia and building the stadium at an alternate site after the council rejected building at the proposed site in Shannon Park. [6] Ownership of the Schooners had originally hoped to start playing during the 2020 season in Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium in Moncton, New Brunswick while the new stadium would be built, but, as of December 2019, were planning to start play during the 2022 CFL season. [7]

Football operations cap

For the second consecutive season, the league will impose cap regulations on coaching and operations staff, with the total compensation of the combined 11 coaches and 14 other football operations staff being set at $2,588,000. [8] In the same manner as the player salary cap, teams that exceed the cap by up to $100,000 will be penalized the same amount they are over and for teams that exceed the cap by over $100,000, they will also forfeit draft picks. [8]

Montreal Alouettes ownership

On January 6, the CFL announced that Sid Spiegel and Gary Stern of Crawford Steel had acquired the Montreal Alouettes. [9]

Renaming of the Edmonton Eskimos

On July 21, Edmonton's CFL team retired its "Eskimos" branding; the term "eskimo" has been considered an offensive term to refer to the Inuit, while team sponsor Belairdirect had threatened to cut its ties with the Eskimos unless it dropped the name. The team will temporarily use "Edmonton Football Team" and "EE Football Team" until a new name is decided. [10] [11]

Media rights

On November 21, 2019, the CFL announced that it had renewed its media rights with Bell Media's TSN and RDS for an undisclosed long-term period. [12] Independent reports indicated that the agreement extended to 2025, adding four additional years to the existing agreement that had been set to expire after 2021; TSN has held exclusive rights to all CFL telecasts since 2008. [13]

Cancellation of the season

The regular season schedule was unveiled on December 16, 2019, a 21-week season initially scheduled to begin on June 11 with a kickoff game between Edmonton and BC. [14] The league continued its larger focus on Saturday primetime games and fewer triple headers, with only one Sunday game (the Winnipeg/Saskatchewan Labour Day weekend game) and three Monday games scheduled. 28 Friday Night Football games (eight double-headers) and 13 Thursday Night Football games were also part of the schedule. [15] The Touchdown Atlantic game was also scheduled to be held between the Argos and Roughriders at Huskies Stadium in Halifax on July 25. [14] [16]

On March 12, the CFL cancelled its regional combines in Edmonton and Montreal, and the CFL National Combine in Toronto, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [17] Free agent scouting camps in the United States planned by teams were also cancelled. [17] The 2020 Global Draft, scheduled for April 16 was postponed to coincide with the opening of training camps, [18] while the 2020 CFL Draft was held as scheduled on April 30. [19] On March 19, TSN's Dave Naylor reported that the league had ordered the closure of team training facilities. [20]

On March 30, the league announced the indefinite postponement of training camps which had been scheduled to begin on May 13. [21] In a March 31 interview with CBC Sports, Commissioner Randy Ambrosie stated that the league had been exploring "all options available" and "[wants] to play as much football as we can", explaining that "things are changing so quickly. We're not installing an artificial timetable. We're looking at all the components of what would go into a training camp and what are the compressed scenarios looking like." He added that a complete cancellation of the season would be "devastating financially". [22]

As late as April 7, the league intended to play a full schedule of games. On that day, Ambrosie announced that the start of the season would be postponed until at least the beginning of July. [23] On April 29, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that the CFL had requested financial assistance from the federal government; the league requested $30 million in immediate aid, up to an additional $130 million in the event the season is cancelled entirely, and stated that it planned to pay this back via various initiatives, including "community and public education programs across the country, the use of our digital channels, stadiums and broadcasts for advertising and promotion, and tourism initiatives surrounding the Grey Cup and other CFL events". [24]

On May 14, it was reported that the league and CFLPA were discussing the possibility of holding games at centralized locations. [25] [26]

On May 20, Ambrosie announced that the season would not begin until at least September, citing numerous provincial and local bans on large gatherings until at least September 1. He also announced that the Grey Cup would not be held as a neutral site game in Regina as was originally awarded. If held, it was to be played at the home field of the finalist with the better regular season record. Regina will host the Grey Cup in 2022. [27] [28]

On July 21, the CFL announced that it was tentatively pursuing a "hub city" model where all games would be played at a single location, and that Winnipeg (beating a bid by Regina and the Saskatchewan Roughriders) had been selected as the provisional hub city. The league reiterated that a federal subsidy would be required in addition to players' union and public health approval for the hub city proposal to go forward. [29]

On August 16, it was reported by Dave Naylor that the federal government had denied a request by the CFL for a $30 million loan, and that there was a high probability that the season would be cancelled outright. [30] On August 17, Commissioner Ambrosie announced that the season had been cancelled, stating that the league had secured union and public health approval for the hub city plan but was unwilling to take out the high-interest loans the government was offering, and that the league could not play behind closed doors unless the government offered subsidies that the league would not have to pay back (which would compensate for the lack of ticket sales). Ambrosie stated that the league would instead focus on the 2021 season and effectively guaranteed that a 2021 season would be played; this marked the first time the Grey Cup has not been awarded since 1919, when a rules dispute, the overall lack of desire to contest for the trophy, and the country's slow recovery from the Spanish flu epidemic that occurred near the end of World War I led to no game being played that year. [31]

Players were permitted to void their contracts on August 24. [32]

Player movement

Free agency

The 2020 free agency period began on February 11 at noon ET. [33] [34] Pending free agents and teams were able to negotiate offers for one week starting February 2 at noon ET and ending February 9 at noon ET. [35] Previously, players and teams could only discuss potential contracts once the free agency period had started. All formal offers to a player during this time will be sent to both the league and the players union and could not be rescinded. [35] [36] Once that negotiating window closed, all teams had until February 11 at 10:00 a.m. to exclusively negotiate with their own pending free agents, including being able to review contract offers that their players received from other teams. [35] Thereafter, players had two hours to review all offers that they have received and may select one and inform the league. [35] If that player did not select any contract offer in that period, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. [35] [36] The most prominent signings during the free agency period are listed in the table below:

TeamTop 30 Free Agents (CFL.ca rank) [37]
BC Lions Micah Johnson (8)
Calgary Stampeders Sean McEwen (11)
Edmonton Mike Moore* (17)
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Ja’Gared Davis* (4), Dylan Wynn* (7), Larry Dean (19), Frankie Williams* (20), Jumal Rolle* (28)
Montreal Alouettes Geno Lewis* (16), Ciante Evans* (29)
Ottawa Redblacks Nick Arbuckle (6), Lewis Ward* (12), Cleyon Laing (13), Don Unamba (21)
Toronto Argonauts Matt Nichols (2), McLeod Bethel-Thompson* (14), DaVaris Daniels (23), Juwan Brescacin (27)
Saskatchewan Roughriders Shaq Evans* (9), Cameron Judge* (10), Solomon Elimimian* (18), Ed Gainey* (22)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers Willie Jefferson* (1), Zach Collaros* (3), Darvin Adams* (24)
Free Agents Derel Walker (5), C.J. Gable (30)
Other Derek Dennis (15 - XFL), Chris Streveler (25 – NFL), S.J. Green (26 – XFL)

*denotes the player was re-signed by their original team

NFL window

On December 13, 2019, the CFLPA filed a grievance against the league regarding the NFL window. [38] According to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which was ratified between the league and players in May 2019, all players under contract would be eligible to pursue NFL opportunities for a specified period of time during the offseason. However, the CFL and NFL are not able to come to an agreement on the parameters of this process. The CFL wants all players who do not make the final 53-man NFL rosters to return to their parent CFL club. The NFL however, wants to be able to place these potential CFL Transfer Window players on their practice rosters. [39] At present only players who are not under contract are eligible to work out for, or sign with an NFL team. However, as a show of good-faith many teams granted their players a release from their contracts so they could pursue NFL opportunities. [40]

Global players

Following their introduction in the 2019 season, the league will have two active roster spots for players designated as "global" players for each team. [41] Each team will also have up to three spots on their practice rosters for global players. [41] Global players are defined as those who do not hold Canadian or American citizenship nor do they qualify as a National player in any other way. [42]

Global combines

The league will feature international combines to allocate designated global players to CFL rosters. The league held the first of these scouting combines in Finland and Sweden on January 11 and 12 respectively. [43] In the following week, on January 17, a scouting combine took place in Paris. [41] Additional combines were announced on November 5, 2019, to be held in a total of seven different countries and spanning three months. [44] [45] As of February 29, 11 total combines were scheduled with additional combines added in Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, and another in Japan. [43] [46] [47] The combine in Mexico was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [17] The players were evaluated by CFL head office staff and the Director of Global Scouting, Greg Quick. [43] The top players identified were intended to be invited to the CFL National Combine in Toronto which was scheduled to take place from March 26 to 28. [45] However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the combine was cancelled and these players will participate in a separate combine to be held shortly before training camps open. [18] All of the participating global players will be eligible to be selected in the 2020 CFL Global Draft with the date to be rescheduled (originally planned for April 16). [18] [45] The order of the draft will follow the same waiver priority as the CFL National Draft (reverse 2019 standings with Grey Cup participants picking last) as opposed to the lottery systems from the previous year's separate LFA and European drafts. [34] Complete details of the Global Draft have not yet been announced.

DateLocationPlayer originsPartnering League/Association
January 11 Helsinki, Finland Scandinavia, Northern Europe American Football Association of Finland
January 12 Norrköping, Sweden Scandinavia, Northern Europe Swedish American Football Federation
January 17 Paris, France France French American Football Federation
January 25 Florence, Italy Italy Federazione Italiana di American Football
January 25 Bristol, England United Kingdom British American Football Association
January 26 Frankfurt, Germany Germany, Austria and GFL players German Football League
February 1 Tokyo, Japan Japan Japan National Football Association
February 2 Osaka, Japan Japan Japan National Football Association
February 29 Copenhagen, Denmark Scandinavia, Northern Europe Danish American Football Federation
March 7 Belo Horizonte, Brazil Brazil Confederação Brasileira de Futebol Americano
March 14–15 Mexico City, Mexico Mexico Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional

Coaching changes

Team2019 HC2020 HCNotes
Ottawa Redblacks Rick Campbell Paul LaPolice On November 4, 2019, head coach Rick Campbell and the Ottawa Redblacks announced that they were parting ways with Campbell having one year left on his contract. [48] Campbell had been the team's only coach since their inaugural season in 2014, but the team struggled in 2019 after losing many star veteran players and their offensive coordinator shortly before the season began. On December 7, 2019, the Redblacks announced that they had hired Paul LaPolice as their head coach. [49] LaPolice has been coaching with four different CFL teams since joining the league in 2000, and had been the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 2010 to 2012 (16–28 record, 1–1 in the playoffs).
BC Lions DeVone Claybrooks Rick Campbell On November 6, 2019, the BC Lions announced that DeVone Claybrooks had been relieved of his head coaching duties for the team. [50] Claybrooks completed his first season as head coach of the team in 2019, leading the Lions to a disappointing 5–13 record, including a 0–10 record within the West Division. On December 2, 2019 the Lions announced Rick Campbell as the team's 27th head coach. [51] Campbell had spent the previous six seasons as the head coach of the Ottawa Redblacks.
Edmonton Jason Maas Scott Milanovich After much deliberation and speculation, the Edmonton Eskimos announced on November 27, 2019 that Jason Maas had been relieved as head coach of the team. [52] Maas had spent four years with the team, compiling a 39–33 record and a 3–3 record in the playoffs. However, the team was perceived to have underachieved in the regular season by finishing no higher than third place during his tenure and missing the playoffs in 2018. [53] In the middle of December Scott Milanovich agreed to terms with the Edmonton Eskimos to become their 22nd head coach. [54] Most recently Milanovich had been the quarterbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL) for the previous three seasons, prior to which he was the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts from 2012 through 2016 (43–47 record), leading the Argos to victory in the 100th Grey Cup.
Toronto Argonauts Corey Chamblin Ryan Dinwiddie After a lengthy review of the coaching staff, it was announced on December 12, 2019 that Corey Chamblin had been relieved of his duties and that Ryan Dinwiddie was hired as the team's head coach. [55] This will be Dinwiddie's first head coaching position after serving as the quarterbacks coach for the Calgary Stampeders from 2016 to 2019. If there are no other head coaching changes, Dinwiddie will be the only rookie head coach in the CFL in 2020.

See also

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