With a total of 16 players migrating to the NFL from CFL ranks so far this offseason, it seems as if the Canadian Football League is suffering from its own version of a “brain drain”.
But according to veteran CFL scribe Lowell Ullrich, this may be the best marketing tool the league has in attracting players. As Ullrich writes in 3 Down Nation, this kind of talent drain is actually beneficial for the CFL’s talent level, in the long run, thanks to it making the league seem like a viable path to the NFL. The success of Cameron Wake with the Miami Dolphins after playing for the B.C. Lions is still fresh in the minds of many.
However, it is still quite an exodus. The most recent group includes B.C. Lions’ defensive back Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Edmonton Eskimos‘ defensive back Aaron Grymes (Philadelphia Eagles), Toronto Argonauts’ defensive end Tristan Okpalaugo ( Arizona Cardinals), Argonauts‘ defensive tackle Cleyon Laing (Miami Dolphins), and Argonauts’ kicker Swayze Waters (Carolina Panthers).
As Ullrich notes, they’re among the 16 players who have gone from the CFL to the NFL so far this offseason (and others could join them; players like Congolese-born Henoc Muamba who was released by the Montreal Alouettes). This is the biggest year for movement to the NFL ever. And there is still time for more.
This does not mean that these players are lost for good as many return to CFL teams at some point so this could be a good thing for the league in the long term.
CFL an opportunity for European players?
The intriguing aspect is the impact for players from outside of North America. With the recent signing of Anthony Dable from France with the New York Giants, European players are beginning to believe that they too would have a chance.
However, in their efforts to qualify for NFL teams, they have been overlooking the opportunity the CFL represents. An NFL scout will give game film from a CFL game much more credibility. So how can a foreign player find his way into the CFL?
Well, it is not easy as CFL teams are not actively looking at Europe or other areas of the world for talent it seems. At least not yet or not on a large scale. But there may come a point in time when the battle for players (Australia’s NGL league is on the prowl) may force them to begin looking elsewhere in earnest.
So this talent drain to the NFL could have a far wider effect.