Frequently Asked Questions about Rosters
- Where can I get CFL rosters, injured lists, reserve lists and practice rosters? #
The CFL's 46-man active rosters (which include 4-man reserve lists), injured lists and practice rosters can be found by team on the CFL.ca team roster page. CFL team websites are also good sources of this information. CFL players by name and position are also available. While missing some information (such as designating 42-man active roster and 4-man reserve list membership and 9-game injured list added date), these rosters are more actively updated and accurate than what was available in the past. The CFL Transaction page and the TSN Hashmarks page have the latest transactions, roster moves and news from around the league.
- What is a CFL team's neg list or negotiation list? How does the neg list work in the CFL? Where can I get a CFL team's negotiation list?#
In the CFL each team has a negotiation list, or neg list, consisting of 35 players they have exclusive rights to negotiate a contract with. The regulations surrounding negotiation lists are defined in Section 3 of the CFL By-laws. As the CFL conducts its College Draft for non-import (primarily Canadians) players only, the negotiation lists serve as a way of acquiring player rights for import players (though non-drafted non-imports can be placed on neg lists as well). Players who qualify as CFL veterans (have appeared on a game roster, reserve list or injury list for seven games) are not allowed to be placed on a neg list. Veteran players are free agents and able to negotiate with any team when their contract has expired or they have been released and cleared waivers.
Teams place players on their neg lists on a first come, first serve basis. It is estimated 75% of players do not know they are on a CFL team's neg list. The lists change frequently and additions/deletions are published by the league to the teams daily. Teams must follow rules to negotiate in good faith. Players can notify the league of the negotiation window and if a contract offer is not received within 10 days, the player is removed from the team's neg list. If a fair contract offer is received, but rejected, the player is removed from the list one year from the offer date.
Just like a draft limits competition for new players, the neg list does the same. However, rather than hold an import draft annually the negotiation list system provides much greater flexibility in adding and removing players as information changes through the year. The system seems to be well liked by CFL general managers and there does not seem to be any desire to change it or make it more open.
The CFL's negotiation lists are secret, shared amongst teams and the league office only and are not public. From time to time media reports will name additions and deletions to negotiations lists, but complete lists are held private among the CFL head office and member clubs.
- How does the Canadian Amateur draft work? Who is eligible for the Canadian Draft? What is the CFL Supplemental Draft? How do I become eligible for the CFL amateur draft?#
The CFL Canadian Amateur draft is a six-round entry draft for non-imports into the CFL. The draft is held in early May each year. Draft selection order is determined by the finish order (waiver priority order) of the previous year and draft selections are allowed to be traded among teams. Currently, with eight teams and in a normal year, 48 players are selected in the draft. The full rules of the amateur and supplemental drafts are found in Section 6 of the CFL By-laws.
In 2013, the draft was expanded to seven rounds and the Ottawa franchise set to launch for the 2014 season was allowed selections in the last position of the first four rounds of redshirted NCAA players. These changes were for the 2013 draft only. Ottawa will participate in the draft fully in 2014 with the first selection in each round as laid out in the agreement to stock the expansion team.
To be eligible for the Canadian draft, a player must be a non-import with at least one year of university football and in their fourth year of university or have turned 25-years old in the year prior to the draft. Prospective draftees must submit paperwork to the league showing they meet the criteria for non-import status. Players who meet this criteria must pass through one Canadian Amateur draft or supplemental draft before they can be signed as a free agent as a non-drafted player. Players who do not play university football are not eligible for the draft but can be signed as free agents and will be considered non-import players with the requisite documentation.
For players who do not submit the necessary paperwork indicating non-import status prior to the deadline to be eligible for the Canadian Amateur draft, a supplemental draft can be held. Multiple supplemental drafts can be held in a single year, arranged after proper paperwork is received and verified for each player. Players who do submit the necessary paperwork after 60 days of the draft being held do not go into a supplemental draft but become eligible for the next year's amateur draft.
The supplemental draft provides teams an opportunity to select a player in the draft in exchange for forfeiting a pick in the next year's amateur draft. The selection order is done in reverse waiver priority order. Teams selecting a player must indicate a round from next year's amateur draft they will forfeit for this pick. Teams with a higher priority can then select the same player by matching or beating the round bid. For example, the Grey Cup champion may bid a third-round pick, all other teams could beat this pick by also bidding a third-round pick. The team with the highest bid gets the player and forfeits the pick bid from next year's amateur draft.
While a complicated process, the CFL is not alone in the use of a supplemental draft.
University players should ensure they have filed their non-import status paperwork with the league in time to be verified by the league prior to the deadline, which is normally three weeks before the draft is held, to ensure they are considered eligible for the CFL Amateur Draft.
Thanks to Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans who asked the question, researched it, had the tenacity to step through the misinformation on this subject and provided the sources for the answer.
- What is a practice roster? What did the CFL practice roster replace? How large are CFL practice rosters? When do CFL practice rosters expand? What are the rules around claiming a player off another team's practice roster?#
Practice rosters provide CFL teams with additional reserve players to practice with the club but do not dress for games. The practice roster provides players familiar with a team's system that can be added to the regular roster in case of injury, situation or performance. Practice roster players do not sign standard CFL player contracts, instead they agree to a practice roster agreement as stipulated by the CBA.
Canadian Football League teams are allowed to carry a practice roster of seven (7) players. At least one practice roster spot must be a non-import player. If all seven spots are used, then at least two practice roster spots must be non-import players as defined in Article 17.01 of the CBA. During a 30-day period starting 30 days after the NFL cut-down day, teams may expand their practice rosters to 12 players. NFL cut-down day is late August/early September, meaning CFL practice rosters expand to 12 players from late September/early October for 30 days. Prior and following this 30-day period practice rosters are limited to seven players.
In 2012, the Players Association rejected a proposal by the league to expand practice rosters from 7 players to 10 players (adding 1 non-import and 2 import players). This issue is expected to be revisited with the next CBA negotiation, though the league felt increasing the rosters sooner would create less impact on teams when Ottawa rejoins the league in 2014. The league is expected to revisit the increase for the 2013 season, asking the Players' Association for an increase of two players to a total practice roster size of nine players per team.
Practice roster contracts allow a player to be signed by another club to a regular player contract, meaning the player must take an active (46-man) roster spot (sign a standard player contract). The club that currently holds the practice roster contract has the same option to sign the player to a standard player contract (and place the player on a 46-man roster spot) to avoid losing the player. Players under practice roster contracts are not allowed to sign a practice roster agreement with another team until they are released from the contract or the contract expires.
There are no league restrictions to how long (how many seasons) a player may stay on a practice roster. It is purely a player's decision to accept a practice roster spot when offered by a team.
Prior to the introduction of practice rosters in 1987, the CFL employed 14 and 21-day tryouts. This allowed teams to add players who could practice with the club for 14 or 21-days. They could not participate in games during this period without being added to the active roster. At the end of the trial period, if the team did not add the player to the active roster, the player had to clear waivers before he could be signed to another 14 or 21-day tryout, if I recall correctly.
- What is the CFL's designated import rule? When did the CFL first restrict the number of imports on a team? How has the designated import rule changed?#
The current designated import rule requires three designated import players to only enter the game on special teams or to replace another import on offence or defence. This rule is specified in Article 23 of the CBA with the CFLPA as an amendment of the CFL By-laws and by Rule 4, Section 5, Article 6 of the Official CFL Rulebook.
Prior to the formation of the CFL, Canadian Rugby Unions restricted the number of imports on a team to five starting in 1936. In addition, players were required to reside in Canada for one year to participate in the Grey Cup. While the rule is sometimes described as being developed to protect Canadian jobs, it was in fact implemented to develop the sport in Canada since there were no football "jobs" to have in Canada.
By 1968 roster sizes were set at 31 players—17 non-imports, 13 imports and one designated import. The designated import was introduced that year and was allowed to replace another import in the game, but the man he replaced would not be allowed to return to the game. In 1970 the CFL amended the rule to allow designated imports who were quarterbacks to enter and leave the game freely in substitution of the quarterback. This change allowed CFL teams to carry dedicated backup quarterbacks. Previously, a team's backup quarterback was another positional player, normally a defensive back.
The number of imports was increased to 15 and the roster size to 33 in 1972. It was later increased to 34 players, 19 non-imports and 15 imports and continued the designated import rule. In 1979, Jamie Bone, a Canadian College quarterback out of the University of Western Ontario successfully won a Ontario Human Rights Commission hearing. The judge ruled that Bone had been discriminated against on the basis of his nationality by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and awarded him $10,000 and a 30-day tryout which he declined. The judge did not strike down the designated import rule however, and it lived on.
In 1986 the old designated import rule was eliminated by the league and game rosters were set at 35 (19 non-imports, 13 imports and three quarterbacks). In 1987 a quarterback position was dropped reducing the roster to 34.
The designated import rule known today was introduced in 1988. Roster sizes were set at 20 non-imports, 14 imports and 2 quarterbacks. One import was a designated import and was restricted to participating in special team plays. 1990 saw rosters expand to 37 players consisting of 20 non-imports, 14 imports and three quarterbacks. In 2002 rosters were increased to 40 players, 19 non-imports, 18 imports and 3 quarterbacks with two designated imports. The designated import rule had been adjusted, allowing unlimited special teams play, but also providing for a designated import to replace another import player on offence or defence. In this way, starting positions for non-imports were protected since no more than 16 imports plus the quarterback could hold the 24 offensive or defensive starting positions.
In 2006 rosters increased again to 42 players, 20 non-imports, 19 imports and 3 quarterbacks. The number of designated imports increased to three, meaning a minimum of seven non-import starting positions were required. It should be noted that teams have started more than the minimum of non-imports required, indicating greater Canadian talent than is often recognized.
- How many players are on the field in the CFL? How big are the rosters in the CFL? How many players are in the CFL? How many Canadian players dress for a CFL game? How many Canadian players in the CFL? What is the training camp roster size in the CFL?#
Using the 46-man roster times the current eight teams in 2010, there are 368 players in the CFL. If practice rosters and injury lists are counted, there are over 400 players employed in the CFL.
Each team's roster must include at least 19 non-import players (essentially Canadians). Non-imports are defined as a person who has resided in Canada an aggregate of at least seven (7) of their first fifteen (15) years or a person who is a Canadian citizen and was physically resident in Canada for an aggregate period of five (5) years prior to the age of 18 years. This equates to a minimum of 152 Canadian (or non-imports) players on CFL rosters. There is no requirement to have any import players on a team's roster.
Teams are limited to 75 players under contract during the off-season. Training camp roster sizes are set at 68 players plus any non-counting players (current year's draft picks, two additional non-counter players, previous year draft picks which have never attended a professional training camp and any junior player). Non-counter players are defined as:
- Players who have graduated from junior football and are within the club's territorial rights.
- A current year draft eligible player who was undrafted.
- A player who had been eligible for the preceding year's draft or one who may have been treated as a non-counter in the previous year's camp, provided that he has not participated in a CFL regular season or post-season game.
Starting in 2012, teams are allowed only 12 roster moves during training camp. Previously, the number of player moves was unlimited.
Roster cut-down to the standard 46-man roster is usually slated for seven days before the first regular season game each year.
A graphical representation of the CFL roster structure can be found on razzledazzle.cfldb.ca.
- What are the rules for CFL off-season workouts? Are CFL off-season workouts mandatory?#
Voluntary Off-season Workouts were introduced with the 2010 CBA. The rules governing these workouts are:
- The workouts are completely voluntary and no player can be compelled to attend.
- Veteran players must be given 30 days written notice of the date, times, place and practice schedule for off-season workouts.
- Off-season workouts may only take place between Feb. 1 and April 30 each year.
- The workouts and meetings may be no longer than 3 days in length.
- Practice and meetings must be one continuous period and not longer than 4.5 hours on any day.
- Practices shall be helmets and sweats only. Full equipment and contact drills are not allowed.
- Clubs must provide all veteran players in attendance all meals, accommodation and travel expense.
- Each veteran player will be entitled to a per diem of $115 per day, including travel days.
Complete information on Voluntary Off-Season Workouts can be found in Section 6.04 of the CBA.
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