Show me the money: CFL players’ salaries

TORONTO – Professional athletes may evoke images of lavish lifestyles and massive contracts, but when it comes to the CFL, players really might be playing more for the love of the game. 

That’s because an average player’s salary in the CFL lags way behind those in other professional sports.

Take the CFL’s American counterpart, the NFL. According to, the top-paid linebackers in the NFL, Dwight Freeney from the Indianapolis Colts, pulled in $19 million USD in 2012. What did one of the top quarterbacks make in the CFL?

According to a Winnipeg Free Press report from January 2012, Toronto Argos quarterback Ricky Ray got $400,000 CAD.

Don’t quit your day job

The CFL doesn’t disclose salary information so it’s hard to say exactly how much players make. But according to one report from the independent CFL database called, the Collective Bargaining Agreement set the minimum base salary for CFL players at $43,000 in 2011 with an increase of $1000 per year until 2013.

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Add in pre-season salary and bonuses and the website suggests the average salary for CFL players, not including quarterbacks, could be around $80,000 CAD per year., an online job search and salary database, estimates that amount to be closer to $50,000 CAD.

Off-season and moonlighting

Since the CFL season is only six months long, many players have additional jobs in the off-season. One former Saskatchewan Roughrider that Global News spoke to (who did not want to be identified) said that with the exception of the quarterback, all of his teammates had part-time jobs in addition to playing in the CFL when he was part of the roster.

In addition to picking up post-game shifts at the bar, here are some other ways many of his teammates spent their time when off the field:

Sports coaches
Police officers
Public speakers

Quarterback = money

If you’re going to play in the CFL, shoot for the top spot of quarterback.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press report, the top salaries in the CFL went to the quarterbacks. Here is the breakdown.

Anthony Calvillo, Montreal: $400,000 (maximum salary)
Ricky Ray, Toronto: $400,000 (maximum salary)
Henry Burris, Hamilton: $300,000 (maximum salary)
Darian Durant, Saskatchewan: $300,000 (maximum salary)
Drew Tate, Calgary: $300,000 (maximum salary) ($200,000 base)
Steven Jyles, Edmonton: $250,000 (maximum salary) ($125,000 base, $75,000 signing bonus)
Travis Lulay, B.C.: $250,000 (maximum salary)

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