News and views on all things American Football from a fans perspective

First and Ten – The CFL releases first group of negotiation list player names.

The CFL wants to generate some off-season chatter. To give fans something to talk about aside from the recent frenzy of free agency. AS PT Barnum once said, “Advertising is to a genuine article what manure is to land, – it largely increases the product.” The CFL does have a genuine product, it is just that the league feels it needs to do more in grabbing some news time for that product. To that end there was recently a partial reveal of players on CFL team’s negotiation lists.

At its recent meeting of presidents and general managers in Banff, the CFL decided that teams would release 10 names from their respective negotiation lists to the public two times a year – in February and December. The first release is here, while the second is timed to come before the U.S. college bowl season.

“After meeting with team executives and player personnel earlier this year, it was collectively decided to publish a portion of the negotiation list to engage fans, show a glimpse of the talent teams are looking to acquire and continue the momentum regarding the off-season news cycle,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie noted in a statement relating to the pending partial list reveal.

CFL teams can have up to 45 players on their negotiation list giving them exclusive negotiating rights to those players should they decide to play in Canada. Players can be added, or removed, at a team’s discretion on a first-come, first-served basis. Clubs own exclusive rights to those players so long as they’re on a negotiation list.

Last year, Hamilton confirmed that former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was on its negotiation list. It was an open secret as it was common knowledge the former US college ball star had been on Hamilton’s list since his days at Texas A&M. It did however create plenty of CFL related chatter – just what Ambrosie meant when he talked about momentum in the news cycle.

For a lot of CFL fans the Manziel saga has dragged on far too long anyway. Opening up 10 new names on each team’s lists allows  for the development of more discussion of the CFL in the off-season and could help to make the CFL a little more transparent for the fans.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest names in the first release were quarterbacks, such as Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma (Toronto Argonauts), former NFL starters Robert Griffin III (Hamilton Tiger-Cats) and Colin Kaepernick, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (B.C. Lions), and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (Hamilton again) star of this years’ BCS title game.

Those are the marquee names and honestly most probably won’t be heading to the CFL, but of more interest are some of the other names. While most of those names may be unfamiliar, fans might start reading up on the players and gaining more knowledge about them. It also gives fans a chance to see how their team evaluates talent and think about the type of player that might fit into their team’s system.

Chris O’Leary pointed out over at that, “While fans and media have fixated on the opening days of free agency over the last week, the negotiation list is arguably just as important in terms of roster assembly for a CFL GM.”. So there is some validity to fans being able to think about the players on these lists.

Teams generally use the negotiation list as a preference system for players that they see as a potential future CFL athletes. Veteran players (those with CFL experience) are not allowed on the list, nor is a player that’s been under CFL contract in the current calendar year. A teams’ list is constantly evolving too, with GM’s evaluating college players and those at NFL camps.

There is also the suggestion that by revealing interest in a player, if he cannot make an NFL roster then he knows a CFL team might be interested. It may make them think about it if they hadn’t even given north of the border football a passing thought beforehand.

We should remember, this is only ten players from each team’s list. Teams may have held back better-known names. Again though, I think this just leaves fans with a good chance to learn something about NCAA players they may never have considered. (Canadian players can be on the list but the majority of the list players are American NCAA athletes).

A further point of interest, –  the list may reflect on the scouting ability of the CFL teams.  If they consistently secure these lesser known players and turn them into CFL stars then their fans can only be happy. It’s all about tagging the players that can succeed in the 3 down game and we get to see a glimpse of how teams in direct competition with each other see that. To quote Barnum once more, “The great ambition should be to excel all others engaged in the same occupation.”

Now you might just get to see how that competition is going amongst CFL teams off the field as well as on it.

So if you’re a fan of one of the CFL teams, why not check out some of the lesser known players your team has listed? Start looking them up, imagining how they might fit into your team and it might just get a lot more interesting.


Image from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: