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Pre-Practice Squad Be Damned, Riders Don’t Lead CFL in Players

Published: Monday, Mar 5th 2018, 3:03pm

By: Stephen Safinuk (@Safimod)

Ever since Chris Jones was fined for Practice Roster gate in 2016, fans of opposing teams seem to monitor the Riders free agent signings with an increased level of scrutiny. Whether it is a PR player from 2017 (ala Jacoby Ford) or a highly touted free agent (ala Travis Bond), social media across the board seems to explode with comments of “how do the Riders afford this” or “Are the Riders just going to sign every player available.”

I wanted to take a look at a few of these complaints, and see if we can’t put them to bed so that we can just go on enjoying what has been an exciting offseason thus far in the CFL. You’re welcome in advance, CFL fans.

The most common complaint is “how can they afford this”. I can put this argument to rest without breaking a sweat. It’s simple – Players currently on the roster do not affect the salary cap until we get to regular season football in June. The Riders could effectively sign every single free agent to Million Dollar deals if they chose, and cut them come May, and the cap wouldn’t be touched. The only exception to this is any signing bonus given to players, but those are likely only being given to players that Chris Jones expects to keep when the regular season kicks off June. Come talk to me in June if the Riders still have 70 players on their active roster.

Fans seem to think a couple of things when it comes to Chris Jones and the Roughriders:

A) The Riders are the only team currently signing free agents

B) Every free agent they sign is making $200,000

Unlike the stories of Montreal overpaying many of their big free agent acquisitions, Saskatchewan is a desirable place to play right now. New stadium, great workout facility, and a team on the rise, these are not the Roughriders of 2015/2016.

As for the numbers, let’s look at the rosters across the CFL, to see just where the Roughriders fit when it comes to the number of players on the roster.

BC: 73 players

Calgary: 58 players

Edmonton: 80 players

Hamilton: 72 players

Montreal: 69 players

Ottawa: 85 players

Saskatchewan: 70 players

Toronto: 75 players

Winnipeg: 74 players

Except for Calgary (58), Ottawa (85), and Edmonton (80) all 6 remaining teams have between 69 and 75 players currently under roster. Of the 9 teams, the Riders currently have the 7th most number of players currently on the roster. From this point forward, if you are a fan of Calgary or Montreal, feel free to continue arguing that the Riders are signing too many players. If you are a fan of one of the remaining 5 teams, zip it. Your argument holds no grounds at this point.

I get it – the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the only team to go over the cap more than once during the SMS era of the CFL. But those transgressions were under previous regime’s. Even with a loss of almost $60,000 worth of cap space in 2016, Chris Jones and the Saskatchewan Roughriders were still under the cap in 2016. I expect to hear that they were under the cap again in 2017. Like it or not, Chris Jones is playing by the rules now, and building a talented roster that many see as true cup contender in 2018.


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