Show me the money: transitioning from CFL to NFL doesn’t mean a big payday.

Show me the money: transitioning from CFL to NFL doesn’t mean a big payday.

The 1996 Hollywood blockbuster rom-com Jerry Maguire has left an indelible mark on popular culture. The scene where sports agent Jerry, (played by Tom Cruise), is told to “Show me the money” by brash Cardinals WR Rod Tidwell, (a career making performance by an up an coming Cuba Gooding Jr) is often repeated, paraphrased or referred to even to this day.

The fact that this is about the player wanting a bigger payday makes you think. Football is, as they keep telling us, a business. Players need to maximise their potential from the short careers they have, whilst organisations want to get the most return on the minimum investment so they can work the salary cap to their advantage.

Thanks to great work of those over at we can see a lot of detail of player contracts these days. In among all that detail you can see what is happening to CFL players who have made the jump to the NFL. It is fair to say none of them is being catapulted into the mega-rich bracket on the back of the deals they have signed.

To put this into a little perspective, we need to focus on the guaranteed element of their contracts perhaps. After all, the more money you guarantee someone, the more likely you are to see them as part of your long term plans, even the Texans front office must have thought that they were investing for the long-term last year with Osweiler’s  huge signing bonus.

Of the fourteen contracts I can find for players transitioning between the leagues, most are being offered annual average salaries ranging from $465,00 to $660,000, but only three are being offered guaranteed money.  Former Ottawa Redblack defensive back Mitchell White has just $17,500 guaranteed by the Eagles; Former Edmonton Eskimo wide receiver Derel Walker has $100,000 guaranteed by the Buccaneers and fellow former Esk’, linebacker Deon Lacey has $200,000 guaranteed by the Dolphins.

All in all then, for ex-CFL players it seems to be less ‘show me the money’ and more ‘give me a chance’. To put all of this into perspective, the largest bonus recently given to a CFL player going straight from one league to another was in 2009 when the Dolphins offered former BC Lion Cameron Wake $1 million guaranteed. Wake certainly grabbed that chance and is now an established NFL player and very well paid DE, with $7,875,000 guaranteed in his contract.

Given that the average salary for a CFL player is $89,985 per season you have to believe that players will continue to look for chances in the NFL to maximise their earning potential when and where they can. Cameron Wake’s success proves it can happen, but for most perhaps they shouldn’t expect a huge payday or a lot of guaranteed money, but rather a chance to dream big while living on the very edges of the NFL revenue generation machine.



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One thought on “Show me the money: transitioning from CFL to NFL doesn’t mean a big payday.

  1. I guess it also means there is little incentive for players to want to move from the NFL to the CFL. They are better off taking the minimum offer available from an NFL team than a good offer from the CFL.

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