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O’Leary: Negotiation window passes test in first year

The CFL’s first-ever negotiation window has opened and now shut and with it comes some reflection.

In an effort to curb tampering and to promote roster continuity, the league and the CFL Players’ Association developed the window and made it a part of last year’s collective bargaining agreement. After watching teams across the league navigate the window for the first time, Greg Dick, the CFL’s chief financial officer and head of football operations, said that there were some surprising developments that came with it.

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“I don’t think there were as many (offers registered) as we thought there would be, but it seemed to work,” Dick said.

“There were some signings, or players taking those options. I think it was positive.”

While there weren’t a lot of offers registered, Dick said that the GMs he spoke with appreciated the chance to openly talk with pending free agents.

“Because there weren’t a lot of offers in, it didn’t mean that they didn’t like that ability (to talk with players). What I heard is that players could talk with positional coaches and could say, ‘OK, what’s my role going to be? What kind of defence or offence are you going to run?’ That type of stuff,” he said.

“I’ve heard that from a few teams, that they really like that ability to talk to players ahead of time. That helps the players and the teams know what they (are dealing with). They did like that piece.”

Dick said that he sensed a feeling-out approach from GMs as they weighed whether or not to register binding contract offers. He’s optimistic that next year, some familiarity with the process would lead to an increase in offers. Two people that were active through the week were Stampeders president and GM John Hufnagel and Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins. Both had players sign qualifying offers ahead of the free-agent market opening at noon ET on Tuesday.


Calgary signed offensive lineman Sean McEwen, defensive back Richard Leonard, defensive lineman Connor McGough, kicker Ronnie Pfeffer and defensive back Brendan Dozier through the negotiating window. Ottawa used the window to sign defensive tackle Cleyon Laing and running back Anthony Coombs

“I think they’ll see what happened and they’ll figure out how to do it I think JH figured out how to do it. REDBLACKS got players. I think they’ll look at it and they’ll take advantage of it next year,” Dick said.

“I think they weren’t sure. But I think teams were trying to figure out, do we wait until free agency?”

In a media availability prior to free agency, Hufnagel said that the free agency window was something he and the Stamps went after aggressively.

“I enjoyed it, it allowed us to (pursue free agency) in a more timely manner, so to speak and be a little more organized,” Hufnagel told Calgary reporters.

“It allowed us to actually talk to the players if we chose to do so and get them to know what our thoughts were. (It was) not as hectic as trying to get everything done right after 12 o’clock on Tuesday.”