CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has reiterated the league’s stance on players under contract wanting to be released so they could pursue NFL opportunities Thursday.
Earlier this month, two members of the Toronto Argonauts —running back James Wilder Jr. and defensive lineman Victor Butler expressed frustration that the team wouldn’t let them out of their CFL deals so they could pursue NFL opportunities. Both players have one year remaining on their respective contracts, a fact Ambrose addressed.
“Our rules and procedures are clear,” he said. “Players are required to honour their contracts as they are registered with the league.
“In two recent cases that have garnered media attention, the Toronto Argonauts have honoured these rules and procedures as they should.”
On Wednesday, linebackers Jeff Knox Jr. and Micah Awe were released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions, respectively, to pursue NFL opportunities. Knox Jr. had an expiring contract — he was scheduled to become a free agent Feb. 13 — but Awe, who signed with the New York Jets, still had a year remaining on his CFL contract, a fact not lost on Ambrosie.
“Teams are not allowed to make side deals with players entering the league,” Ambrosie said. “Recently, one of our teams announced they had released a player halfway through his first CFL contract so he can pursue NFL opportunities.
“The CFL has discerned this action was a product of such a side agreement and the team faces a heavy fine for not following our rules and procedures. We have the utmost respect for our players, their careers and their ambitions. Like any league, we also expect them to respect their contractual obligations as our teams will respect theirs.”