Free Agency: Negotiation window opens Jan. 30

An important step in the free agency process kicks in less than a week from now, on Jan. 30.

That’s when the free agency negotiation window will open, allowing pending free agents to have conversations with teams from around the league.

The window was introduced in 2020 as a means to curb tampering and let pending free agents explore all of their options about a week ahead of the market officially opening up. This year, from Jan. 30 at noon ET to Feb. 6 at noon ET, pending free agents can listen to offers from other teams to help them make a decision that they’re most comfortable with.

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Pending free agents like Jeremiah Masoli will soon be able to talk with teams across the league ahead of the free agent market opening (Geoff Robins/

In the window, teams can make formal offers to a pending free agent. Those offers — complete with base salary amount along with any incentives being offered — have to be registered with the league office and the CFL Players’ Association. Offers submitted are considered binding and can’t be rescinded.

When the window closes, teams will enter an exclusive 48-hour negotiating period with their pending free agents. At the start of that 48-hour period, the league will provide teams with the registered offers their pending free agents received. Teams will have until Feb. 8 at 10 a.m. ET to make an offer to their pending free agents. They’ll have to provide a copy of the offer to the CFL and the CFLPA.

At the end of that 48-hour period, the player will have from 10 a.m. to noon ET on Feb. 8 to select any offer made to him from any club. If he chooses one of these offers, the chosen team has to notify the CFL, who will then notify the other eight teams in the league. Conversely, if the player doesn’t accept any of these offers, he’ll enter free agency with any prior offers made from any team withdrawn and no longer available for acceptance.

Once the player enters free agency, the process would unfold as it has in years past. Team offers received in free agency don’t have to be registered with the league or the CFLPA.

Let’s use Jeremiah Masoli as an example. As of Jan. 30, he’ll be able to talk with any of the other eight teams in the league to gauge their interest in him and to discuss a contract. If a team makes him an offer, it will be registered with the league and the CFLPA. On Feb. 6, when the window closes, Masoli would have 48 hours to deal exclusively with the Tiger-Cats, who would see any offers made by rival teams and could counter with an offer of their own.

Masoli could choose to wait out all of that and enter into free agency at 12:01 p.m. ET on Feb. 8, where negotiations would proceed as in years past, with the team he signs with announcing his deal whenever it’s complete.

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