After it was revealed last week that Toronto Argonauts tailback Chad Kackert worked out for the New York Jets, many wondered how the Grey Cup MVP would be permitted to audition for a NFL team before he became a free agent.
When the CFL and its players association signed a new collective bargaining agreement (without the need of a lockout, nor a mediator) in 2010, the union lost the window where players in their option year could work out with an NFL club in the first six weeks of the new league year.
But sportsnet.ca has learned that in a Dec. 21 memo sent to the CFLPA, the CFL’s competition committee is willing to somewhat bend on the matter.
The competition committee has modified its policy, allowing players with an expiring CFL deals to work out for NFL teams before becoming free agents on Feb. 15.
With certain provisions, that is.
The competition committee would allow a guy like Kackert, who played out his option year in 2012 and could hit the open market next month, schedule workouts with any team south of the border until Jan. 31.
But the CFL clubs would be required to provide written permission to each individual NFL organization to allow a non-contact workout to happen.
The CFL-issued memo states the league office has provided the NFL with a list of players who fall into this category.
No player could sign with an NFL team until he has reached free agency (Feb. 15), unless he is granted an outright release by their CFL club, like Ejiro Kuale did from the Argos, just days after winning the Grey Cup in November.
Which is why Kackert has not yet inked a deal with the Jets, or any NFL team.
And why the B.C. Lions denied the report that linebacker Solomon Elimimian is officially a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke told Kirk Penton of Sun Media that the Blue Bombers would likely grant players an early release if they had an NFL opportunity, like defensive lineman Jason Vega appears to have with the New England Patriots.
The competition committee also decided CFL players can negotiate with NFL clubs until Jan. 31.
So while it is a legitimate possibility there could be a verbal agreement, or a signed pact “in the drawer, no NFL team is permitted to sign a CFL player under contract.
Fundamentally, the deadline for workouts and negotiations of Jan. 31 makes sense. It gives CFL teams two final weeks to try and hammer out a contract extension with their own players.
Kackert, for instance, is gaining some leverage with Toronto with the possibility he could head south of the border.