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Years ago, the Canadian Football League was renowned for paying its athletes poorly. Most players required offseason jobs to pay their bills. That changed in the last several years as the minimum CFL player salary increased annually. While those playing football north of the U.S. border don't make anything close to what players make in the NFL, many now make six figures or more per season.
Average CFL Player Salary
The CFL and its football clubs do not publish player salaries, so it is difficult to determine how much any player might receive. However, the CFL publishes the salary cap for each team, so you can approximately calculate the average salary. In 2018, the CFL has a $5.2 million salary cap for each team. Based on a roster size of 56 players, the average CFL salary is $96,857.
Of course, not all players are compensated equally. As with any professional sport, CFL compensation is based on a player's abilities and his ability to attract crowds. Payment becomes more complicated when you consider the league rule that specifies about half of each team must consist of Canadian players. Consequently, a good Canadian player may be in higher demand and make more money than a great American player.
In 2018, the highest paid CFL player, Jamaal Westerman, is a defensive lineman with the Montreal Alouettes. He will make $218,000 in a two-year contract plus performance bonuses.
Minimum CFL Player Salary
In 2018, the minimum CFL salary for each player is $54,000 for the regular season, which does not include payment received for signing bonuses, performance bonuses, or preseason and postseason games. From 2014 to 2018, the minimum salary was increased by $1,000 every year, based on a 2014 collective bargaining agreement between the CFL and the CFL Players Association.
Preseason and Postseason Pay
Players who have been in the CFL for one year receive $525 per week for preseason play and training for a minimum of three weeks. Players who have been in the CFL for two years are paid $625 per week, while those who have played for three or more years receive $725 per week.
If a team makes it to the postseason, players are guaranteed additional minimum payments that are based on how well the team does. For a team that makes it to a divisional semifinal game in 2018, each player receives at least $3,400. If the team goes to the divisional championship game, each player gets another $3,600 minimum. If the team gets to the Grey Cup – the CFL's league championship game – the players receive additional pay. Players on the winning team each are paid at least $16,000, while the losing team players each receive at least $8,000.
Bonuses and Benefits
In addition to guaranteed salaries and pay for preseason and postseason games, all CFL players are eligible for signing bonuses and performance bonuses. All players are also entitled to group medical insurance and pension plans. In the 2018 season, the team contributes $4,100 into each player's pension plan, matching the player's contribution.
As with any professional athletes, players are entitled to be paid for endorsement deals and events that accompany the less tangible but valuable support and adoration of their fans.
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has been a hiring manager and recruiter for several companies and advises small businesses on technology. He has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles on careers and small business trends for newspapers, magazines and online publications including About.com, Re/Max and American Express.