|Dates||August 5, 2021 – November 20, 2021|
|Start date||November 28, 2021|
|East Champions||Hamilton Tiger-Cats|
|West Champions||Winnipeg Blue Bombers|
|108th Grey Cup|
|Date||December 12, 2021|
|Site||Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton|
|Champions||Winnipeg Blue Bombers|
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. Each team played 14 regular season games over 16 weeks. 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. Hamilton hosted the 108th Grey Cup on December 12, 2021.
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.
On June 1, 2021, Edmonton's CFL team announced that it adopted a new name, the Edmonton Elks. 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.
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). 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. Individual minimum salaries will be set at $65,000 in 2021 for National and American players. 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.
The league originally released the season's full schedule on November 20, 2020 which featured a 21-week regular season schedule. 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. 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). 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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. The discussions ended on July 7, 2021 with no action taken. The XFL subsequently confirmed it will not resume play until 2023 at the earliest.
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. Each team would also have up to three spots on their practice rosters for global players. 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. This is subject to change after the cancellation of Global Combines in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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. 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).
|BC||Capped at 12,500||Proof of vaccination required beginning September 13 per provincial public health orders.|||
|Calgary||Full capacity||Proof of full vaccination required beginning September 15 per CSEC policy.|||
|Edmonton||Full capacity||Proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning October 15 per team policy.|||
|Hamilton||Capped at 75% capacity||Proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning September 6 per team policy.|||
|Montreal||Capped at 15,000||Proof of vaccination required beginning September 18 per provincial public health orders.|||
|Ottawa||Capped at 75% capacity||Proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning September 12 per OSEG policy.|||
|Saskatchewan||Full capacity||Proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning September 17 per team policy.|||
|Toronto||Capped at 75% capacity||Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test required beginning in September per MLSE policy.|||
|Winnipeg||Full capacity||Proof of full vaccination required per provincial public health orders.|||
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.
The 2021 free agency period officially began on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET. 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. All formal offers to a player during this time would be sent to both the league and the players union and cannot be rescinded.
The in-season trade deadline was on October 27, 2021, at 5:00 pm ET.
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||14||11||3||0||22||351||187||8–1||L2||Details|
Main article: 108th Grey Cup
The Grey Cup was played at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario, on December 12, 2021.
108th Grey Cup
|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|
*-Team won in Overtime.
The CFL was broadcast on TSN and RDS across all platforms in Canada as part of their contract. The broadcast rights were reported to have been extended through 2025.
|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|
|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|
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