2018 CFL season

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2018 CFL season
Regular season
Duration June 14, 2018 – November 3, 2018
Playoffs
Start date November 11, 2018
106th Grey Cup
Date November 25, 2018
Site The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
2017 CFL seasons 2019
Toronto Argonauts at Edmonton Eskimos regular season game

The 2018 CFL season is the 65th season of modern Canadian professional football. Officially, it is the 61st season of the league. Edmonton is scheduled to host the 106th Grey Cup on November 25, 2018.[1] The CFL announced that this season will move to a 21-week regular season (previously a 20-week season) to increase player rest time and reduce short turnaround-times for games.[2] Given the change, the regular season began on June 14, 2018, one week earlier than usual, and will conclude on November 3, 2018.[3]

CFL News in 2018

Salary cap

According to the new collective bargaining agreement, the 2018 salary cap will be set at $5,200,000. As per the agreement, the cap is fixed and will not vary with league revenue performance. The minimum team salary will be set at $4,600,000 with individual minimum salaries set at $54,000. This will be the last season under the current CBA with this deal expiring May 15, 2019 or the first day of the 2019 training camp, whichever comes first.[4]

Free agency

The 2018 free agency period began on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12pm EST.[5] All players eligible for free agency are unrestricted free agents, as is customary in the league.

New ball

On March 19, 2018, the CFL announced that it would introduce a new football for the 2018 season. The new ball, produced by Wilson Sporting Goods, matches the specifications of the ball used in the National Football League and uses the "slightly harder" Horween leather used in that league, but with the CFL's laces and its characteristic white striping.[6]

CFL Week

Following the success of the week-long league and prospect showcase in March 2017, the league announced on September 9, 2017 that Mark's CFL Week would return and would be hosted by Winnipeg.[7] The event took place from Thursday March 22 to Sunday March 25, 2018, and was highlighted by the CFL National Combine: In which, 52 2018 CFL Draft eligible prospects competed. The festivities were held at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg.[8] Similar to last year's installment, over 50 current players attended for fan engagement and media photo shoots. The 2018 Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductees (Scott Flory, Barron Miles, Tommy Hugo, Hank Ilesic, Brent Johnson, Frank Cosentino, and Paul Brule) were announced during a gala and the CFL Rules and Competition Committee meetings were held.

Schedule

On September 13, 2017, the league announced that the 2018 season would have a 21-week regular season schedule rather than the 20-week schedule used from 2004 to 2005 and 2014 to 2017 when the league had nine teams.[2] This will be the longest, in terms of calendar days, that a CFL season has ever been. In this model, there will be 18 four-game weeks and three three-game weeks. Every team will have three bye weeks, up from the previous eight teams with two bye weeks and one team with three (while playing two games in one week). This change was also a probable result of the backlash received for the 2017 Ottawa Redblacks season schedule that saw the team play 17 games over the first 17 weeks and have their byes in weeks 18 and 20.[9][10] Ottawa also had to play three games in 11 days as did the Toronto Argonauts, due to the five-game week in week 5.[11]

On December 14, 2017, the CFL released the 2018 season schedule, which was almost two months earlier than in years past.[12] The season opening game was hosted on June 14 by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the first time they have hosted that game since the 2014 season. The Grey Cup rematch, hosted by the Argonauts, took place in week 2, which was the first time since 2013 that it wasn't featured in week 1. Three-game weeks will take place in weeks 5, 9, and 14 as three teams will have byes during those weeks.

There are four triple headers, all occurring on Saturdays and after the Labour Day Classic games, presumably to avoid playing games on Sundays and interfering with TSN's broadcast of National Football League games.[13] There are also 11 double headers this year, with one on a Thursday, three on Fridays, five on Saturdays, and two on Mondays (the traditional Labour Day and Thanksgiving contests). Other than the two Holiday Monday games, all games this season are played between Thursday and Sunday. This will be the fourth straight season to showcase Thursday Night Football with 10 of the first 11 weeks featuring Thursday night games, with every team hosting at least once.[14] For the first time since 2014, there are not only all intra-divisional games in the last week of the regular season, but those games are also featured in the last three weeks of the regular season (which also occurred in 2014). There are nine home-and-home series, with the Argonauts playing the most, with four. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have a delayed home-and-home series with the Saskatchewan Roughriders as both teams have a bye during week 5 (in which case, the Tiger-Cats also have four such series).

Front office changes

Team 2017 GM 2018 GM Notes
BC Lions Wally Buono Ed Hervey On November 30, 2017, the BC Lions announced that Wally Buono would step aside from his duties as general manager to be replaced by Ed Hervey. Hervey had been the general manager of the Edmonton Eskimos from 2013 though 2016, winning the 103rd Grey Cup in 2015. Buono will remain as the Lions' head coach.[15]

Coaching changes

Team 2017 HC 2017 interim HC 2018 HC Notes
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Kent Austin June Jones On December 4, 2017, the Tiger-Cats announced that they would be bringing back 2017 interim head coach June Jones on a permanent basis.[16] Junes took over from Kent Austin after the Ti-Cats started the 2017 season 0-8, and under Jones' leadership the team won six of their remaining 10 games.
Montreal Alouettes Jacques Chapdelaine Kavis Reed Mike Sherman Kavis Reed, the interim head coach for Montreal, explicitly refused to accept any permanent appointment to the position (he lost all seven games as Alouettes head coach) but will remain on staff as general manager.[17] Reed conducted the search for the team's new head coach following the 2017 season. On December 20, 2017, the Montreal Alouettes announced that they would be hiring former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman as the club's 23rd head coach.[18]

Negotiation lists

In late January 2018 CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced that teams would be required to make public the names of 10 of the 45 players on their negotiation lists twice per year; once in February and once in December. Since the CFL doesn't have a draft for American (or international) players the negotiation list is the only way a team can obtain the exclusive rights to an athlete. The decision to go public was supported by the league's presidents, governors and general managers.[19] On February 20, 2018 all nine CFL teams announced 10 players on their negotiation list.[20]

NFL window

On July 20, 2018 the nine CFL owners voted to reinstate the "NFL window". All players who sign contracts after August 20, 2018 will be eligible to work out (attend try-outs and mini-camps) and sign contracts with NFL teams during the off-season.[21][22] CFL rookies will still be required to sign two year contracts, but now have the opportunity to have their contract terminated if signed by an NFL team after their first year.

Rules changes

In March the CFL's Rules Committee submitted a variety of rule changes to the Board of Governors, to be implemented for the 2017 season. As was the case in 2017, the proposed changes once again focused on improving game flow and increasing player safety.[23] The proposals were reviewed and accepted by the CFL's Board of Governors on May 23, 2018.[24]

Accepted

  • Coaches are no longer able to challenge 'illegal contact on a receiver' penalties
  • Replay official will automatically review "potential touchdowns", where the ball was stopped just short of the end-zone
    • Replay official will also be able to change the time of the in-game clock during a challenge
  • Penalizing 'blindside blocks' in which any player running backwards to their own goal-line delivers a forcible block on an opponent. The goal of this rule change is to reduce injuries, specifically head trauma
  • Ban 'low blocks' outside the tackle box to reduce leg injures
  • Expanded definition of 'spearing' to include situations where the tackling player delivers a hit with the helmet as the initial or primary point of contact. This rule would not apply to "a low running ball carrier"
  • Removing a loophole in the 'sleeper play' rules in which players who enter the game could have stayed 'outside the numbers' and received the ball. If passed, all new players to join an offensive or special teams play will have to go in 'between the numbers' if they are to touch the ball (i.e. go into the huddle, or near the middle of the field)
  • Simplification of what constitutes a legal pass from behind the line of scrimmage. Currently the requirement is for the ball to be behind the line of scrimmage at the time the passing player releases the pass. The proposed rule would instead require one, or either, of the passer's feet to be on, or behind, the line of scrimmage.
  • Elimination of the 'force out' catch rule. All receivers will now have to get one foot in-bounds regardless of whether or not they are contacted by a defender while leaping/diving.
  • Increase the penalty for 'pyramiding' (climbing or vaulting off the body of another player to attempt to block a kick) from 5 yards to 10 yards

Broadcasting

Broadcast agreements with the ESPN family of networks, including TSN in Canada, continue. In the United States, games not carried on ESPN's linear networks will now be placed behind a hard paywall for all viewers as ESPN+ takes over streaming those games; they had previously been carried on ESPN3, the cost of which had been bundled into the price set by the Internet service provider.[25]

Although the CFL's agreement with TSN has since been extended to 2021, that extension did not cover U.S. rights, which expire after 2018. The CFL has admitted courting a return to NFL Network, which carried the league's games in 2010 and 2011; such a move would require the league to move its schedule a month earlier than it starts now, potentially overlapping with the Stanley Cup Finals.[26]

Regular season

Structure

Teams play eighteen regular season games, playing two divisional opponents three times and all of the other teams twice. Teams were awarded two points for a win and one point for a tie. The top three teams in each division qualified for the playoffs, with the first place team gaining a bye to the divisional finals. A fourth place team in one division may qualify ahead of the third place team in the other division (the "Crossover"), if they earn more points in the season.[27]

If two or more teams in the same division were equal in points, the following tiebreakers applied:[28]

  1. If a third-place team finishes in a tie with the fourth place team in the other division, the third place team automatically gets the playoff spot and there is no crossover.
  2. Most wins in all games
  3. Head to head winning percentage (matches won divided by all matches played)
  4. Head to head points difference
  5. Head to head points ratio
  6. Tiebreakers 3–5 applied sequentially to all divisional games
  7. Tiebreakers 4 and 5 applied sequentially to all league games
  8. Coin toss

Notes:

  • 1. If two clubs remain tied after other club(s) are eliminated during any step, tie breakers reverts to step 2.

Standings

Note: GP = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against, Pts = Points

Teams in bold are in playoff positions.
X – clinched playoff berth
Y – clinched first place and bye to division final

Team GP W L T Pts PF PA Div Stk
Calgary Stampeders 12 10 2 0 20 380 248 4–2 W1 Details
Edmonton Eskimos 12 7 5 0 14 353 312 4–2 W1 Details
Saskatchewan Roughriders 12 7 5 0 14 303 303 4–2 L1 Details
BC Lions 11 5 6 0 10 259 264 2–4 W2 Details
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 12 5 7 0 10 365 316 1–5 L4 Details
Team GP W L T Pts PF PA Div Stk
Ottawa Redblacks 12 7 5 0 14 299 278 3–2 W1 Details
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 12 6 6 0 12 335 296 3–1 L1 Details
Toronto Argonauts 11 3 8 0 6 236 346 1–3 L3 Details
Montreal Alouettes 12 3 9 0 6 204 371 2–3 L1 Details

Award winners

CFL Top Performers of the Week

Week First Second Third Fans' Choice
1 Charleston Hughes Mike Reilly Derel Walker Charleston Hughes
2 Bo Levi Mitchell Chris Streveler Jeremiah Masoli Chris Streveler
3 C. J. Gable Jeremiah Masoli Boris Bede Jeremiah Masoli
4 Adam Bighill Brad Sinopoli James Wilder Jr. Adam Bighill
5 D'haquille Williams Travis Lulay Micah Johnson Micah Johnson
6 Andrew Harris Brad Sinopoli Trevor Harris Andrew Harris
7 Mike Reilly Lewis Ward Jovan Santos-Knox Jovan Santos-Knox
8 McLeod Bethel-Thompson Kamar Jorden S. J. Green McLeod Bethel-Thompson
9 Trevor Harris Adam Bighill Chris Rainey Adam Bighill
10 Mike Reilly Nick Marshall Jordan Williams-Lambert Jordan Williams-Lambert
11 Bo Levi Mitchell Kamar Jorden Ja'Gared Davis Bo Levi Mitchell
12 Brandon Banks Jeremiah Masoli Luke Tasker Brandon Banks
13 Mike Reilly D’haquille Williams Brandon Banks Brandon Banks
14 William Powell Anthony Orange Reggie Begelton

Source[29]

CFL Top Performers of the Month

Month First Second Third
June Mike Reilly Jeremiah Masoli D'haquille Williams
July Andrew Harris D'haquille Williams Brad Sinopoli
August Kamar Jorden Charleston Hughes Mike Reilly

Source[29]

References

  1. ^ "CFL awards 106th Grey Cup presented by Shaw to City of Edmonton". cfl.ca. June 5, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "CFL, CFLPA work together to deliver significant advances to player safety". cfl.ca. September 13, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017. 
  3. ^ "CFL's 2018 season to start June 14". tsn.ca. December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017. 
  4. ^ "New five-year CBA ratified by CFL and CFLPA". cfl.ca. June 13, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Official 2018 Free agent tracker". cfl.ca. Retrieved December 3, 2017. 
  6. ^ "CFL TO ROLL OUT NEW BALL FOR 2018 SEASON". cfl.ca. March 19, 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2018. 
  7. ^ "Mark's CFL Week coming to Winnipeg". cfl.ca. September 9, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Winnipeg to host CFL promotional extravaganza". Winnipeg Free Press. September 9, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Ottawa Redblacks miffed about 2017 schedule". Ottawa Sun. February 7, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Did the Ottawa Redblacks get screwed on the 2017 schedule by the CFL? Let's check the data". National Post. February 7, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017. 
  11. ^ 2017 CFL schedule
  12. ^ "Player safety: CFL schedule stretched over additional week to increase rest". 3downnation.com. December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017. 
  13. ^ 2018 CFL schedule
  14. ^ "Just in time for the holidays: The 2018 CFL schedule". press.cfl.ca. December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Lions name Hervey as GM; Buono to coach". TSN. 2017-11-30. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  16. ^ "Tiger-Cats take interim tag off Jones". TSN. 2017-12-04. Retrieved 2017-12-05. 
  17. ^ GM Kavis Reed intensifies search for Alouettes' next head coach
  18. ^ "Alouettes name Mike Sherman new head coach". cfl.ca. 2017-12-20. Retrieved 2017-12-23. 
  19. ^ "CFL to partially lift veil on negotiation lists - Article - TSN". TSN. 2018-01-26. Retrieved 2018-02-21. 
  20. ^ "CFL teams release partial negotiation lists - Article - TSN". TSN. 2018-02-20. Retrieved 2018-02-21. 
  21. ^ "CFL teams vote to reinstate "NFL window"". TSN. 2018-07-20. Retrieved 2018-07-25. 
  22. ^ "CFL opens door, partially, for players to sign with NFL teams". ProFootballTalk. 2018-07-21. Retrieved 2018-07-25. 
  23. ^ "Alteration to illegal contact challenge headlines proposed rule changes - CFL.ca". CFL.ca. 2018-03-22. Retrieved 2018-03-26. 
  24. ^ "CFL confirms rule changes proposed in March - CFL.ca". CFL.ca. 2018-05-23. Retrieved 2018-05-23. 
  25. ^ "WHERE TO WATCH: 2018 CFL BROADCAST SCHEDULE". CFL.ca. May 24, 2018. Retrieved May 24, 2018. 
  26. ^ Baines, Tim (November 24, 2017). "Grey Cup in October? NFL Network TV deal could follow for CFL". Sun Media. Retrieved May 24, 2018. 
  27. ^ CFL.ca staff. "The Crossover Explained". The Canadian Football League. Retrieved September 18, 2015. 
  28. ^ "The Game". CFL.ca. The Canadian Football League. Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  29. ^ a b "CFL Top Performers". Canadian Football League. Retrieved July 7, 2018. 

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