CFL Sports Agents

The Canadian Football League – Continued

Am I boring you yet? I hope not.

One thing is for sure, I’ve enjoyed the chance to blog about my passion. This is a great forum and Darren (the other one) is doing some fantastic work building this community of people who share the same passion for player representation, allowing us to sit back and critique the world that we all want to be apart of.

I will continue my rant on the Canadian Football League with some more odds and ends about the inner workings of the league from an agents perspective.

First off, the length of contracts in the CFL. In most major professional leagues you have players signing long term deals of four, five…even fifteen (see Rick DiPietro) year contracts. In the CFL, you really only have two varieties of contracts: One year or Two year. In both cases, the contract is coupled with a club option. Every CFL contract includes a standard option year. However, last year one player made headlines in the CFL by being the first (and last) player to sign a one year contract without an option. His name, Ricky Williams. It’s amazing what the CFL will do to accommodate a star player. Anyhow, long term contracts just aren’t seen. I’ve signed a few four year (plus option) deals in the past, but those were a rarity.

The major reason why contracts are kept short is because players don’t want to be bound to the CFL. The objective for most players is to play a year or two in the CFL and jump to the NFL where the real money lies.

Another similarity between the CFL and NFL comes down to the fact that contracts are not guaranteed. In he NFL, many players have guaranteed contracts that cover a partial or in some cases the full amount. In the CFL, nothing…nada. There have been a few guaranteed deals in the CFL, but those are rare cases.

Signing bonuses are common, but are not significant. For example, the 1st overall draft choice in the 2006 CFL Draft received a $10,000 signing bonus. Not large by NFL standards, but when you consider that his base salary was $40,000, the signing bonus seems a lot nicer!

Sun Tzu once said “Know yourself.” That advice must be heeded in all forms of business, especially when it comes to contract negotiation. Successful negotiators can predict how their opposition will react to their demands and know exactly what buttons to push. When I started off in the CFL, I had negotiated plenty of contracts – but, none in the CFL. They were all hockey related contracts done at the minor pro level. The only way to learn how to negotiate is to do it as often as possible. It’s not something that you can practice with a friend or map out on a piece of paper. It’s something that you need to learn on the job.

Sports representation is a people business and the only way to succeed is to get to know the people who run the business as well as you can. Just like a pitcher keeps a log of all the batters he has faced, a good agent will develop a little black book of negotiation. I do it all the time. You’ll find that one team in particular likes to offer a particular incentive. It’s not something that they will offer up to you, but if you negotiate well, it will end up on the table. Some teams are keen on roster bonuses (12, 16, 18 games) and some would rather give the player a larger playtime bonus (51% of all offensive plays). There is no way to know that unless you can experience it first hand.

Luckily I operate in an 8 team league where it becomes pretty easy to get to know all of the key decision makers pretty quickly. The only downside is that it’s a small tight knit group and you can’t afford to make any enemies, risking the potential of cutting off 12.5% of your target market.

Negotiating in any sport is very much like a game of chess. During the process you’ve got to make decisions to give up some pieces for others. As an agent, your role is to make sure that you’re giving up the pawns and not the queen!

-Darren Gill

4 replies on “The Canadian Football League – Continued”

Hi Darren,

I want to know your opinion on this – Its funny I wanted to be a sport agent 7 years ago I studied sport management but there wasn’t one course on how to be an agent. I have been told to forget it – I am a female etc… and have since moved on – I got out of who is up and coming and never pursued it – and now I wonder – it would be like learing everything all over again – while being out of it for so long – is it possible? THere are things about my personality that makes me suited for this… for one I am very aggressive in a good way – I want so much to disect contracts – I am very people oriented. Eventually I would like to represent athletes in USA but I want to start small – learning, almost for free… How do you suggest doing this or are u gonna tell me to forget it if I have been out of it and because I am a female? Can I shadow you?

I am looking for an agent for a few american players who are looking to play in the CFL. They are very good and come from great programs. They just are not happy with their current reps. Do you know where I can look or who to contact for this? One of the players took his team to the NFL playoff’s 3 yrs ago and is only 30 yrs old, but he wants a canadian agent to work with. Any help?


Do the cfl have a player representation contract , is a % set by cfl,like in the nfl, is they guid line for player
representation or rule,what is the rate at this time for agent. i have taken sports mgr class, i have some player i am working with, some have been to nfl camp, some have played aren ball. i think this someone
will land a contract. i have been trying over 1year or more. thank you

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