2021 CFL season
Regular season
DatesAugust 5, 2021 – November 20, 2021
Playoffs
Start dateNovember 28, 2021
East ChampionsHamilton Tiger-Cats
West ChampionsWinnipeg Blue Bombers
108th Grey Cup
DateDecember 12, 2021
SiteTim Hortons Field, Hamilton
ChampionsWinnipeg Blue Bombers
← 2020 (cancelled) CFL seasons 2022 →
Canadian Football League team locations:
Red pog.svg
West,
Blue 000080 pog.svg
East

The 2021 CFL season was the 67th season of modern-day Canadian football. Officially, it was the 63rd season of the Canadian Football League. The regular season began on August 5, 2021, and ended November 20, 2021.[1][2] Each team played 14 regular season games over 16 weeks.[2] Previously, the season was scheduled to begin on June 10, 2021, and end on October 30, 2021, with 18 games being played per team over 21 weeks, but this was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.[3] Hamilton hosted the 108th Grey Cup on December 12, 2021.[4]

League business

Resumption of play

The 2020 season was postponed on numerous occasions because federal and provincial governments forbade attendance at sporting events in an effort to stop the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. The league ultimately decided to hold a shortened season in a "bubble" without fans in attendance. However, on August 17, the league called off the season. The federal and provincial governments refused to provide the subsidies needed to cover the expenses necessary for the season to be held. Additionally, public health officials could not guarantee they could approve the league's "bubble" proposal in time to complete the season before Canada's harsh winters set in. At the same time, commissioner Randy Ambrosie guaranteed a return to play in 2021, with fans in attendance at full capacity, without regard to the status of the pandemic by that time.[5]

Renaming of the Edmonton team

On June 1, 2021, Edmonton's CFL team announced that it adopted a new name, the Edmonton Elks.[6] The team had previously retired its "Edmonton Eskimos" branding on July 21, 2020, and started to temporarily use "Edmonton Football Team" and "EE Football Team", on grounds that the term "eskimo" had been considered an offensive term to refer to the Inuit.[7]

Salary cap

According to the new collective bargaining agreement, the 2021 salary cap is scheduled to be $5,350,000 (or an average of $118,888 per active roster spot).[8][9] That number is subject to change as players will now have revenue sharing of 20% from broadcast deals, but may also change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[9] Individual minimum salaries will be set at $65,000 in 2021 for National and American players.[8] Since no 2020 CFL Draft pick signed a contract in the cancelled 2020 season, this will be the first season with all CFL Draft picks subject to a pay scale, with the first overall pick earning approximately $85,000.[8]

Schedule

The league originally released the season's full schedule on November 20, 2020 which featured a 21-week regular season schedule.[3] The regular season was scheduled to begin on June 10, 2021 with a rematch of the 107th Grey Cup with the defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.[3] Notably, the schedule featured more intra-divisional games, with BC, Calgary, and Edmonton playing 12 such games, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg playing 11 divisional games, and the East Division teams playing 10 divisional games (an increase of one to two divisional games per team).[10] This was done to reduce cross-country travel. The Toronto Argonauts were scheduled to play a neutral site game on July 19, 2021 against the Calgary Stampeders at a location that was supposed to be announced at a later date.[11]

However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the league confirmed on April 21, 2021 that the season would be delayed until at least August 5, 2021 with a revised schedule released on June 15, 2021.[1][2] This version featured 14 regular season games with even more of a focus on intra-divisional games as the Blue Bombers and Redblacks do not play against each other in the regular season and each team plays approximately eight divisional games.[2] As the league anticipated capacity limits to be more lenient in Western Canada, the CFL aligned its schedule to have all East division teams begin their seasons at West division opponents for at least the first two weeks of the season.[2]

If a game postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak cannot be made up within the regular season schedule, the team(s) affected by the outbreak would be charged with losses by forfeit. If at least 85% of a team's players have received at least one vaccine dose, players would receive their salary for the unplayed game and the team would be credited with a 1–0 win.[12]

Potential partnership with the XFL

On March 10, the CFL confirmed it was pursuing discussions with the consortium that owns the XFL about some form of partnership, the details of which were not made public. The XFL, which was slated to return in 2022 following its abrupt shutdown and sale in March 2020, paused plans to return pending the results of those discussions.[13] The discussions ended on July 7, 2021 with no action taken.[14] The XFL subsequently confirmed it will not resume play until 2023 at the earliest.

Global players

After first being introduced for the 2019 CFL season, the league is scheduled to feature two active roster spots for players designated as "global" players for each team.[15] Each team would also have up to three spots on their practice rosters for global players.[15] Global players are defined as those who do not hold Canadian or American citizenship nor do they qualify as a National player in any other way.[16] This is subject to change after the cancellation of Global Combines in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[17]

COVID-19 restrictions

Some CFL teams enforced limitations on spectator capacity for their games. Even without capacity restrictions, teamsstill employed enhanced health and safety protocols, such as increased access to sanitization, paperless transactions and digital tickets.[18][19] With announcements by the Edmonton Elks and Saskatchewan Roughriders on August 30. 2021, all CFL teams announced plans to require that spectators present proof that they are vaccinated for COVID-19, either as the result of a voluntary decision, or as the result of provincial public health orders requiring proof of vaccine (British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec).[20][21][22]

Team Capacity Vaccine requirement Source
BC Capped at 12,500 Proof of vaccination required beginning September 13 per provincial public health orders. [23][20]
Calgary Full capacity Proof of full vaccination required beginning September 15 per CSEC policy. [24][25]
Edmonton Full capacity Proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning October 15 per team policy. [18][26]
Hamilton Capped at 75% capacity Proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning September 6 per team policy. [27][28]
Montreal Capped at 15,000 Proof of vaccination required beginning September 18 per provincial public health orders. [29][22]
Ottawa Capped at 75% capacity Proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning September 12 per OSEG policy. [27][28]
Saskatchewan Full capacity Proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning September 17 per team policy. [19][30]
Toronto Capped at 75% capacity Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning in September per MLSE policy. [31][27]
Winnipeg Full capacity Proof of full vaccination required per provincial public health orders. [21]

Player movement

Signing moratorium

With the 2020 CFL season initially postponed and then ultimately cancelled, the league had placed a moratorium on re-signing players. Teams were able to re-sign players after December 7, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. ET.[32]

Free agency

The 2021 free agency period officially began on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET.[33][32] Similar to the previous off-season, pending free agents and teams were able to negotiate offers for one week starting Sunday, January 31, 2021 ending Sunday, February 7, 2021.[34] All formal offers to a player during this time would be sent to both the league and the players union and cannot be rescinded.[34][35]

Trade deadline

The in-season trade deadline was on October 27, 2021, at 5:00 pm ET.[36]

Regular season

Standings

Team GP W L T Pts PF PA Div Stk
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 14 11 3 0 22 351 187 8–1 L2 Details
Saskatchewan Roughriders 14 9 5 0 18 290 285 5–4 L1 Details
Calgary Stampeders 14 8 6 0 16 315 263 6–4 W3 Details
BC Lions 14 5 9 0 10 313 351 2–7 W1 Details
Edmonton Elks 14 3 11 0 6 246 377 2–7 L1 Details
Team GP W L T Pts PF PA Div Stk
Toronto Argonauts 14 9 5 0 18 309 318 6–2 L1 Details
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 14 8 6 0 16 312 244 4–4 W1 Details
Montreal Alouettes 14 7 7 0 14 356 295 5–3 L1 Details
Ottawa Redblacks 14 3 11 0 6 224 384 1–7 W1 Details

Postseason

Main article: 108th Grey Cup

The Grey Cup was played at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario, on December 12, 2021.

Playoff bracket

November 28:
Division Semi-Finals
December 5:
Division Finals
December 12:
108th Grey Cup
Hamilton
E1 Toronto Argonauts 19
E2 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23 E2 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 27
E3 Montreal Alouettes 12 E2 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 25
W1 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 33*
W1 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 21
W2 Saskatchewan Roughriders 33* W2 Saskatchewan Roughriders 17
W3 Calgary Stampeders 30

*-Team won in Overtime.

Broadcasting

The CFL was broadcast on TSN and RDS across all platforms in Canada as part of their contract.[37] The broadcast rights were reported to have been extended through 2025.[38]

Award winners

CFL Top Performers of the Week

Week First Second Third Fans' Choice
One Abdul Kanneh Avery Williams Brady Oliveira Brady Oliveira
Two Michael Reilly Jonathan Woodard Cody Fajardo Cody Fajardo
Three Nick Arbuckle Cody Fajardo Greg Ellingson Nick Arbuckle
Four Frankie Williams Jordan Williams Marc Liegghio Marc Liegghio
Five Trevor Harris Vernon Adams Brandon Alexander Brandon Alexander
Six Stefen Banks Kamar Jorden Michael Reilly Stefen Banks
Seven DeAundre Alford Simoni Lawrence Michael Reilly DeAundre Alford
Eight Cody Fajardo Shaquille Richardson William Stanback Cody Fajardo
Nine Zach Collaros Caleb Evans DeVonte Dedmon Zach Collaros
Ten Andrew Harris Dexter McCoil Ka'Deem Carey Andrew Harris
Eleven Rene Paredes Jake Wieneke David Ménard Rene Paredes
Twelve William Stanback Eugene Lewis Monshadrik Hunter Eugene Lewis
Thirteen Jeremiah Masoli A. C. Leonard Boris Bede Boris Bede
Fourteen Cordarro Law Adam Bighill A. C. Leonard Adam Bighill
Fifteen Duke Williams Darnell Sankey Hénoc Muamba Duke Williams
Sixteen Nathan Rourke Johnny Augustine Davon Coleman Johnny Augustine

Source[39]

CFL Top Performers of the Month

Month First Second Third
August Cody Fajardo Jonathan Woodard Michael Reilly
September Lucky Whitehead Simoni Lawrence Michael Reilly
October David Ménard Zach Collaros Jeremiah Masoli
November A. C. Leonard Lucky Whitehead Boris Bede

Source[39]

2021 CFL All-Stars

Offence[edit]

Defence[edit]

Special teams

Source[40]

2021 CFL Western All-Stars

Offence[edit]

Defence[edit]

Special teams

Source[41]

2021 CFL Eastern All-Stars

Offence[edit]

Defence[edit]

Special teams

Source[41]

2021 CFL Awards

References

  1. ^ a b "CFL Announces Plans To Return-to-play For 2021 Season". cfl.ca. April 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Circle your calendars: CFL releases 2021 schedule". Canadian Football League. June 15, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "2021 CFL Schedule". cfl.ca. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  4. ^ "Going for Two: CFL awards 2020 and 2021 Grey Cups". cfl.ca. February 21, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  5. ^ "CFL cancels 2020 season, 'committed' to 2021". TSN. August 17, 2020.
  6. ^ "Edmonton Officially Announces Team Name As Elks". CFL.ca (Press release). CFL Enterprises, LP. June 1, 2021. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  7. ^ "CFL's Edmonton Eskimos dropping 'Eskimo' from team name". Global News. July 21, 2020. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Staff, 3Down. "UPDATED: What we know about the new CBA | 3DownNation". Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  9. ^ a b TSN ca Staff (May 15, 2019). "New CFL collective bargaining agreement will be three-year deal - TSN.ca". TSN. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  10. ^ "Divisional games take centre stage in unique 2021 schedule". cfl.ca. November 20, 2020.
  11. ^ "2021 CFL schedule released". Toronto Argonauts. November 20, 2020. Archived from the original on November 20, 2020. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  12. ^ "CFLPA disapproves of league's COVID-19 cancellation plan". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved August 8, 2021.
  13. ^ Middleton, Marc. "XFL and CFL Enter Into Talks, 2022 Relaunch Season Likely To Be Delayed". WrestlingHeadlines.com. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  14. ^ "XFL planning 2023 return after talks on partnership with CFL tabled". ESPN.com. July 7, 2021. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  15. ^ a b "CFL Combine planned for Paris, France in 2020". press.cfl.ca. October 4, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  16. ^ "CFLPA sends memo to players detailing changes to CBA". 3DownNation. January 8, 2020. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  17. ^ "CFL cancels 2020 season, 'committed' to 2021". TSN. August 17, 2020. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Romero, Diego (August 5, 2021). "Going to an Edmonton Elks game this season? Here's what you need to know". CTV News Edmonton. Archived from the original on August 5, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  19. ^ a b "Full crowd expected at 2021 Saskatchewan Roughriders home opener". Global News. Archived from the original on July 30, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  20. ^ a b Kotyk, Alyse (August 23, 2021). "Proof of vaccine to be required for some non-essential businesses in B.C., officials announce". CTV News British Columbia. Archived from the original on August 23, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Bombers to open on Aug. 5 at full capacity". CFL.ca. July 14, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  22. ^ a b "At The Stadium Safely". Montreal Alouettes. August 13, 2021. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  23. ^ "Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks to fans at Lions' return to BC Place (VIDEO) | Offside". dailyhive.com. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  24. ^ Villani, Mark (August 7, 2021). "Calgary Stampeders to host more than 22,000 fans at McMahon Stadium". CTV News Calgary. Archived from the original on August 7, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  25. ^ "Calgary Flames, Stampeders, Hitmen fans & staff must be fully vaccinated to attend games | Globalnews.ca". Global News. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  26. ^ "Roughriders, Elks to require fans to be vaccinated or show negative test". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  27. ^ a b c "Ontario to enter Step 3 of COVID-19 reopening plan on July 16, days earlier than expected". Global News. Archived from the original on July 9, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  28. ^ a b "Ontario CFL teams add vaccine requirements/negative COVID testing for admission". CFL.ca. August 23, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  29. ^ "Restrictions lifted in Quebec despite Canada's top doctors warning of a fourth wave". Montreal. August 1, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  30. ^ News, CKOM. "Riders to make COVID vaccinations a requirement for fans at Mosaic Stadium". 650 CKOM. Retrieved August 30, 2021. ((cite web)): |last= has generic name (help)
  31. ^ "Argos fans will require vaccine proof or neg COVID test in mid Sept". CFL.ca. August 17, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  32. ^ a b "CFL gears up for 2021". CFL.ca. December 4, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  33. ^ "Official 2021 free agent tracker". cfl.ca. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  34. ^ a b "Negotiating window a new feature of 2020 free agency". CFL.ca. January 27, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  35. ^ "Details for the CFL's new negotiating window prior to free agency". 3DownNation. January 27, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  36. ^ "CFL sets 2021 trade deadline for Oct. 27". 3DownNation. September 28, 2021. Retrieved October 13, 2021.
  37. ^ "CFL and TSN extend rights on long-term deal". tsn.ca. November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  38. ^ "BARNES: CFL agrees to new six-year TV deal with TSN". Toronto Sun. September 6, 2019.
  39. ^ a b "CFL Top Performers". Canadian Football League. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  40. ^ "Stars aligned: 2021 CFL All-Stars announced". Canadian Football League. December 15, 2021.
  41. ^ a b "2021 CFL Division All-Stars Unveiled". Canadian Football League. November 24, 2021.