January 30, 2023

Free Agency: Negotiation window opens Feb. 5

Thomas Skrlj/CFL.ca

On Sunday, Feb. 5, we’ll hit an important marker in this year’s CFL Free Agency process.

Sunday at noon ET marks the opening of the free agency negotiation window, where teams can openly talk with pending free agents or their CFLPA-registered designates.

The window has been in use since 2020 and was created as a way to curb tampering and allow pending free agents to explore and better understand their options ahead of the market’s official opening. The negotiation window will remain open for exactly seven days, closing at noon ET on Feb. 12.

The window generates a lot of conversation every year, with players getting a good sense of what their market value is before the market actually opens.

Market Ready: The 2023 CFL Free Agent Tracker
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» Ferguson: Imagining potential free agency fits

There may not be a bumper crop of formal offers made, but expect plenty of chatter once the negotiation window opens (Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca)

In that opening seven-day window, teams can make a formal offer to any pending free agent. That offer must be registered with the CFL office and the CFLPA. Offers made in the window are considered binding and cannot be rescinded.

When the window closes on Feb. 12, pending free agents move into an exclusive 48-hour negotiating window with the teams that hold their present contracts. At that time, every club in the league will be provided with the registered offers the pending free agents have received. Teams have until 10 a.m. ET Feb. 14 to make an offer to their pending free agents, including a copy of it to go to the league office and the CFLPA.

Pending free agents will then have from 10 a.m to noon ET on Feb. 14 to accept any offers that have been made to them by any club. If the player chooses to not accept any of those offers, they officially become free agents at 12:01 p.m. ET on Feb. 14. Any prior offers made are deemed to be withdrawn. When the free agent market opens, contract offers no longer need to be provided to the CFL or CFLPA.

Let’s use Trevor Harris as an example in this year’s process.

On Feb. 5 at noon ET, he’ll be able talk with any team in the league about what they can offer him. At any point in the week, a team can make him a formal offer. It would be registered with the league and the CFLPA and would be considered binding.

On Feb. 12 at noon ET, the negotiation window will close and Harris enters into a 48-hour window where he can exclusively talk with the Alouettes, who will be aware of any of the formal offers made to him in the previous week. If Harris doesn’t have interest in any of the offers he’s received, he can become an official free agent at 12:01 p.m. ET on Feb. 14, free to sign with any team of his choosing.

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