The CFL has seen its popularity grow by leaps and bounds over the last few years. Attendance is up, and teams are seeing more depth than they’ve seen in years. More and more high caliber players are making the trek to the CFL as a viable career choice.
Every CFL team has a capable starting quarterback, with a few teams having more than one. Teams are often loaded with depth in many positions, which keeps those teams from losing a step when starters go down with injury.
These all sound like positive things, and it speaks well of the league, right? Until recently, I thought it did.
With the exception of Hamilton, no team has stayed near the bottom of their division for long without becoming competitive again. But even Hamilton is making strides again.
Things are positive now, but the league has hit a standstill and needs to keep moving forward. With the growth and depth the league is seeing, it’s the players that are the ones hit the hardest.
Newer and younger players are stepping up year after year, making it hard for some of the more experienced players to stay on the team. Those experienced players want to be rewarded for their years of service, but get tossed aside due to the salary cap the league is enforcing.
Many teams don’t want to spend the money to pick these players up, and some players end up leaving the league to get other jobs because they can’t afford to take a pay cut.
We all know the CFL needed some form of a cap to keep teams competitive, and it has worked. But it has not allowed for much room for players to be shifted around. There needs to be more flexibility in the cap, or the CFL is going to see more and more players in their prime leave with a bad taste in their mouths.
I still think the CFL should look at making a few changes to the salary cap, but there is one other option that could alleviate some of the pressure the cap puts on teams—expansion.
Although I don’t think Ottawa deserves a team, the league needs more franchises, and soon. More available jobs give these players more opportunities to play. Plus, with an expansion draft, teams will lose some experienced players, opening positions for younger and less expensive players to fill.
If there can’t be changes made to the salary cap just yet, opening up teams will add an extra $4.2 million for players, and 37 more paid positions for every team.
I know everyone is scared of expansion after the fiasco the CFL went through in the '90s, but if it is done intelligently, we shouldn’t see any problems.
I don’t think the U.S. is a bad choice for expansion, just don’t expand into stupid locations that don’t even know where Canada is on a map. There are also plenty of Canadian Cities to choose from right now, namely Halifax or Quebec City, that could very easily handle a team.
Give Ottawa one more chance, and one year later add another team to even it out. It gives room for growth without shredding the teams that already exist, allows more job security, and keeps many of those veteran players playing longer, anchoring those teams for years to come.