2020 CFL season

The 2020 CFL season will be the 63rd season of the Canadian Football League (CFL). It was originally scheduled to begin on June 11, 2020, although due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, the beginning of the regular season has been postponed indefinitely.

2020 CFL season
Regular season
DurationSeptember – TBD (proposed)
Playoffs
Start dateTBD
108th Grey Cup
DateNovember 22, 2020 (subject to change)
← 2019 CFL seasons 2021 →

League businessEdit

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemicEdit

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in negative impacts on the CFL. On March 12, 2020, the league cancelled the regional combines in Edmonton and Montreal, and the CFL National Combine in Toronto.[1] Free agent scouting camps in the United States planned by teams were also cancelled.[1] The 2020 Global Draft, scheduled for April 16, 2020, was postponed to coincide with the opening of training camps,[2] while the 2020 CFL Draft was held as scheduled on April 30.[3] On March 19, TSN's Dave Naylor reported that the league had ordered the closure of team training facilities.[4]

On March 30, the league announced the indefinite postponement of training camps which had been scheduled to begin on May 13.[5] 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".[6]

On April 7, Ambrosie announced that the start of the season would be postponed until at least the beginning of July.[7] On April 29, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that the CFL had requested financial assistance from the federal government; the league is requesting $30 million in immediate aid, and 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".[8]

On May 14, it was reported that the league and CFLPA were discussing the possibility of holding games at centralized locations.[9][10]

On May 20, Ambrosie announced that the 2020 season would not begin until at least September, and that the 108th Grey Cup would not be held as a neutral site game in Regina as bid. If held, it would be played at the home field of the finalist with the better regular season record. Regina will host the 110th Grey Cup in 2022.[11][12]

Salary capEdit

Per the collective bargaining agreement, the 2020 salary cap will be at least $5,300,000 (average of $115,217 per active roster spot).[13][14][15] That number is subject to change as players will now have revenue sharing of 20% from broadcast deals with TSN and international deals.[15] The base individual minimum salary increased to $65,000 in 2020 for National and American players and is set at $54,000 for Global players.[14][16] 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.[14][17] 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.[17]

Atlantic Canada expansionEdit

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, conditionally 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.[18] 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.[19]

Football operations capEdit

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.[20] 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.[20]

Montreal Alouettes ownershipEdit

On January 6, 2020, the CFL announced that Sid Spiegel and Gary Stern of Crawford Steel had acquired the Montreal Alouettes.[21]

Player movementEdit

Free agencyEdit

The 2020 free agency period officially began on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. ET.[22][23] Pending free agents and teams were able to negotiate offers for one week starting February 2, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. ET and ending February 9, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. ET.[24] 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.[24][25] Once that negotiating window closed, all teams had until February 11, 2020 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.[24] Thereafter, players had two hours to review all offers that they have received and may select one and inform the league.[24] If that player did not select any contract offer in that period, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.[24][25] The most prominent signings during the free agency period are listed in the table below:

Team Top 30 Free Agents (CFL.ca rank)[26]
BC Lions Micah Johnson (8)
Calgary Stampeders Sean McEwen (11)
Edmonton Eskimos 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 windowEdit

On December 13, 2019, the CFLPA filed a grievance against the league regarding the NFL window.[27] 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.[28] At present only players who are not under contact 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.[29]

Trade deadlineEdit

The in-season trade deadline is on October 7, 2020 at 4:59 pm ET.[23]

Global playersEdit

Following their introduction in the 2019 season, the league will have two active roster spots for players designated as "global" players for each team.[30] Each team will also have up to three spots on their practice rosters for global players.[30] 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.[31]

Global combinesEdit

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, 2020, respectively.[32] In the following week, on January 17, 2020, a scouting combine took place in Paris.[30] Additional combines were announced on November 5, 2019, to be held in a total of seven different countries and spanning three months.[33][34] As of February 29, 2020, 11 total combines were scheduled with additional combines added in Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, and another in Japan.[32][35][36] The combine in Mexico was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[1] The players were evaluated by CFL head office staff and the Director of Global Scouting, Greg Quick.[32] 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.[34] 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.[2] 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, 2020).[2][34] 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.[23] Complete details of the Global Draft have not yet been announced.

Date Location Player origins Partnering 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 changesEdit

Team 2019 HC 2020 HC Notes
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.[37] 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.[38] 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.[39] 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.[40] Campbell had spent the previous six seasons as the head coach of the Ottawa Redblacks.
Edmonton Eskimos 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.[41] 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.[42] In the middle of December Scott Milanovich agreed to terms with the Edmonton Eskimos to become their 22nd head coach.[43] 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.[44] 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.

Regular seasonEdit

ScheduleEdit

The regular season schedule was unveiled on December 16, 2019, a 21-week season initially scheduled to begin on June 11, 2020 with a kickoff game featuring the Edmonton Eskimos hosting the BC Lions.[45] Continuing from 2019, the league has continued its larger focus on Saturday primetime games and fewer triple headers, with only one Sunday game (the Blue Bombers/Roughriders Labour Day weekend game) and three Monday games scheduled. 28 Friday Night Football games (eight double-headers) and 13 Thursday Night Football games are also part of the schedule.[46] The Touchdown Atlantic game was also scheduled to be held between the Argos and Roughriders at Huskies Stadium in Halifax on July 25.[45][47]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, the beginning of the season has been postponed. The impact of the delay on the rest of the proposed schedule had yet to be announced, though as of April 7, the league still intends to play a full schedule of games.[7]

BroadcastingEdit

On November 21, 2019, the CFL announced it would continue giving TSN and RDS exclusive rights to the league's broadcasts across all platforms in a long-term agreement.[48] 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.[49]

The agreement with American broadcaster, ESPN, will continue through this season with a minimum 20 games, including one division final and the Grey Cup, to be televised in the United States across its wireline networks and ESPN+.[50] The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brings the season into full competition with the NFL's planned season and the American college football season, on ESPN's scheduling of the games overall is currently unknown.

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ a b c "CFL Global Draft rescheduled as lead-in event prior to training camp". cfl.ca. March 24, 2020. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  3. ^ "A team by team look at the 2020 CFL Draft". CFL.ca. April 30, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  4. ^ "League office orders CFL teams to close facilities". 3DownNation. March 19, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  5. ^ "CFL POSTPONES THE START OF TRAINING CAM". Press Release. Canadian Football League. March 30, 2020. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  6. ^ "Cancelled CFL season would be 'devastating financially,' Randy Ambrosie says". CBC Sports. March 31, 2020. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
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  9. ^ "CFL, CFLPA discussing two hub-city approach for 2020 season". TSN. May 14, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  10. ^ Reid, Glenn (May 15, 2020). "Tough decisions being made in the Riderville office due to COVID-19". CBC News. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
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  13. ^ "New five-year CBA ratified by CFL and CFLPA". cfl.ca. June 13, 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c Staff, 3Down. "UPDATED: What we know about the new CBA | 3DownNation". Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  15. ^ a b Staff, TSN ca (May 15, 2019). "New CFL collective bargaining agreement will be three-year deal – TSN.ca". TSN. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  16. ^ Dunk, Justin (January 7, 2020). "The comprehensive CFL collective bargaining agreement". 3DownNation. p. 33 – via Canadian Football League. Collective Bargaining Agreement
  17. ^ a b Dunk, Justin (January 7, 2020). "The comprehensive CFL collective bargaining agreement". 3DownNation. p. 34 – via Canadian Football League. Collective Bargaining Agreement
  18. ^ "Nova Scotia premier noncommittal on CFL stadium funding". StarMetro. December 11, 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
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  28. ^ Naylor, Dave (December 5, 2019). "CFL players stuck in limbo with NFL window issues unresolved – TSN.ca". TSN. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  29. ^ SUN, Calgary; Sports; Email, Share CFL GMs and coaches seeking NFL window clarity Tumblr Pinterest Google Plus Reddit LinkedIn; Tumblr; Pinterest; Plus, Google; Reddit; LinkedIn; Email (January 8, 2020). "CFL GMs and coaches seeking NFL window clarity | Calgary Sun". Retrieved January 8, 2020.
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  33. ^ "CFL BLITZ: Players Association exec Brian Ramsay wades in on hot button issues". torontosun.com. September 11, 2019. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
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  35. ^ "First wave of Global Players invited to CFL Combine". Canadian Football League. February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  36. ^ "Final European Combine set to take place in Denmark". Canadian Football League. February 28, 2020. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  37. ^ "Redblacks, Rick Campbell agree to part ways". cfl.ca. November 4, 2019. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
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  39. ^ "DeVone Claybrooks relieved of head coaching duties". bclions.ca. November 6, 2019. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
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  43. ^ "Report: Esks bring in Milanovich as head coach". CFL.ca. December 12, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  44. ^ "Ryan Dinwiddie named 45th head coach in Argos history". Toronto Argonauts. December 12, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  45. ^ a b "Key dates to circle on your calendar in 2020". CFL.ca. January 27, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  46. ^ Barnes, Dan (December 17, 2019). "CFL's 2020 regular season schedule released". National Post. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  47. ^ "Touchdown Atlantic sold out; league exploring options for more seating". cfl.ca. March 11, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  48. ^ "CFL and TSN extend rights on long-term deal". tsn.ca. November 21, 2019. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  49. ^ "BARNES: CFL agrees to new six-year TV deal with TSN". Toronto Sun. September 6, 2019.
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