The Canadian Football League’s negotiation list system means that each team can maintain a list of U.S. players that they have exclusive first negotiation rights to, and that’s led to a lot of high-profile players being put on those lists without ever coming to the CFL. A few examples over the years include Tim Tebow, Braxton Miller, Josh Gordon, Aaron Murray and Colin Kaepernick, and the latest case in point could be Terrell Owens. Fresh off the controversy over Owens being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame but declining to attend his induction, TSN’s Dave Naylor reported Tuesday that the Edmonton Eskimos have added Owens to their negotiation list:
— David William Naylor (@TSNDaveNaylor) June 19, 2018
And this got a little further attention considering how Owens posted an Instagram video Monday claiming he ran a 4.44 and a 4.43 40-yard dash:
It seems unlikely on multiple levels that this will lead to Owens coming to the CFL, though. Most importantly, he’s 44, and while there have been some somewhat-older players who have found success in the league, most have been much younger than that. A few famed players have played into their 40s, including quarterbacks Damon Allen, Anthony Calvillo and Henry Burris and kickers Lui Passaglia and Paul McCallum, but not a whole lot, and those players already had a long history of CFL experience to lean on.
Those players also didn’t play receiver, a position that’s often been dominated by younger talent; even some late-30s all-time great CFL receivers, like Geroy Simon and Nik Lewis, have wound up switching teams and taking smaller roles in their latter seasons thanks to the league’s emphasis on youth at that position. So there’s a lot to say that Owens might not be a great CFL fit at 44, especially as he hasn’t played high-level football in years.
Even more importantly, Owens might never come north. Yes, some other big-name American players have tried the CFL at one point or another, including Chad Johnson a few years back and Johnny Manziel at present, but many on CFL negotiation lists have never wound up in the league at all. And there are plenty of questions about if it would be at all worth it for Owens at this point.
CFL salaries are not large, especially for non-quarterbacks. The current minimum salary is $54,000 Canadian (just over $40,000 U.S.), and many players make under $100,000 Canadian annually (around $75,000 U.S.). Owens might be able to negotiate something a little better for himself if the Eskimos are really keen on having him, but that also represents a negative incentive to sign him; why bother with an expensive short-term deal with a 44-year-old when you could get two young, cheap players who might be franchise fixtures going forward for the same price?
So, there isn’t a lot of financial gain here for Owens, especially as he still probably has some endorsement potential in the U.S. at present and could probably make more outside the CFL. And heading to the CFL might also be seen as a step down for him by some, and he might have extra incentive to avoid that in a year where he’s being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (and where he’s already kicked off one controversy around that).
Could it happen? Sure. Lots of weird things happen in the CFL. But this seems like a pretty long shot at the moment, and one of the many negotiation list moves made just in case a player might elect to try the CFL. It seems pretty unlikely we’ll ever see Owens in the Eskimos’ green-and-gold.
[Dave Naylor on Twitter]