Years ago, the Canadian Football League had a reputation for not being able to pay its athletes extremely well.
In the past, most players needed offseason jobs to supplement their incomes.
Things have changed.
Over the last several years the minimum CFL player salary has increased annually. While playing football north of the U.S. border doesn’t pay anything close to NFL salaries, many players now make six figures or more per season.
The highest-paid player in the CFL is B.C. Lions quarterback Mike Reilly who signed a four-year deal worth $2.9 million CAD. Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Trevor Harris signed a two-year contract with Edmonton reportedly worth $1.1 million. Bo Levi Mitchell’s contract with the Calgary Stampeders is reportedly a four-year deal worth just under $3 million.
Average CFL Player Salary
The CFL and its football clubs do not publish player salaries, but the league does publish the salary cap for each team, so from that it’s possible to roughly calculate the average salary. In 2018, the CFL has a $5.2 million salary cap for each team.
The statistic shows the average player salary of the teams in the CFL in 2018. The Calgary Stampeders had an average player salary of about $US 100.92 thousand for the 2018 season.
Minimum CFL Player Salary
In 2018, the minimum CFL salary for each player was $54,000 for the regular season (it was raised to $65,000 in 2019), which does not include payment received for signing bonuses, performance bonuses, or preseason and postseason games. From 2014 to 2018, the minimum salary was increased by $1,000 every year, based on a 2014 collective bargaining agreement between the CFL and the CFL Players Association.
However, player agent Rob Fry said only a small percentage of CFLers are at that number, and average compensation — which can include housing, signing, roster and performance bonuses — would be in the range of $80,000 plus.
Preseason and Postseason Pay
Players who have been in the CFL for one year received $525 per week in 2018 for preseason play and training for a minimum of three weeks. Two-year veterans were paid $625 per week, while players who have been in the CFL for three or more years received $725 per week.
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If a team makes it to the postseason, players are guaranteed additional minimum payments that are based on how well the team does. For a team that makes it to a divisional semifinal game in 2018, each player receives at least $3,400. If the team goes to the divisional championship game, each player gets another $3,600 minimum. If the team gets to the Grey Cup – the CFL’s league championship game – the players receive additional pay. Players on the winning team each are paid at least $16,000, while the losing team players each receive at least $8,000.
Bonuses and Benefits
In addition to guaranteed salaries and pay for preseason and postseason games, all CFL players are eligible for signing bonuses and performance bonuses. All players are also entitled to group medical insurance and pension plans. In the 2018 season, the team contributes $4,100 into each player’s pension plan, matching the player’s contribution.