Should the San Diego Chargers look to CFL for help?


Canada, a nation of 30 million people (roughly the same population as California), has silently competed with its southern neighbor in almost every aspect imaginable: democracy, socialism, weather, culture and amount of Tim Hortons. While each of these areas has gained traction in recent decades, the area of sports has been the one area that neither the United States nor Canada can truly win.

Canada has hockey and snow sports, while the U.S. has baseball and basketball. Both nations have professional football, yet it is only the United State’s National Football League that is recognized all over the world.

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Since the Canadian Football League was created January 19, 1958, there have been 18 franchises with nine existing today. Much different from American football in terms of yardage and line of scrimmage rules, Canadian football has had some serious talent come through. From Doug Flutie to Jeff Garcia to Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Warren Moon, many NFL-quality players including current Charger Dontrelle Inman have tossed their hat into the hooser football ring.

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With this in mind, the San Diego Chargers should ask themselves: could a CFL star be a good fit in SD?

Now this question has two stipulations in regards to contracts as well as talent level.

CFL stars such as Edmonton Eskimo defensive end Marcus Howard are already signed under large contracts and do have families and loyalties to their teams and their respective cities. Where the Chargers could have the upper hand though is in the amount of money they can offer (typically hundreds of thousands more) and outstanding opportunities for advancement.

The CFL average salary is around $80,000 while the minimum rookie contract is $500,000. That is a humongous difference.

Of course, America is the land of opportunity! Why pay higher taxes in Canada to play football for lesser-known, lesser-paying teams?

The unfortunate reality of it all is that most of the time, CFL these players are just not good enough to beat NFL-quality talent.

The NFL is the cream of the crop in terms of professional football and the CFL is like the minor leagues, except players typically don’t get called up.

I believe that there has to be some Canadian diamonds in the rough. And, why not? Aside from the weird rules, the CFL is a completely legitimate league with professional players competing at an incredibly high level. Receivers still have baby-soft hands, running backs still have amazing speed, quarterbacks still have rocket arms and defenders still have fearsome 6’5”, 285-pound frames.

Therefore, I think that before turning to any unproven college prospect or washed-up former NFL-er, the Chargers and the rest of the NFL should look to the CFL to find some potential talent. The 2015 is bound to have injuries galore that could derail potential Super Bowl contenders.

Aug 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Argonauts kick returner Terrell Sinkfield (83) returns a kick against the BC Lions at Rogers Centre. BC defeated Toronto 33-17. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Some players such as former Winnipeg Bombers offensive lineman Glenn January could be good additions later on in the season. January was a solid offensive lineman with eight years under his belt, primarily in Winnipeg.  A staple at left tackle for the Bombers, January gives instant blindside protection for the Bolts who need depth at the LT position.

Last year the Bolts’ offensive line suffered mightily after countless injuries. I think that if they can go to the CFL and sign a top-ranked star to even the practice squad, then the Chargers could have that potential leg up on their competition.

Not to mention, former Kentucky defensive lineman Micah Johnson who played briefly for the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals was a beast in his junior season for Kentcuky (57 solo tackles, 30 assisted, 11.5 for loss, and 2.5 sacks) and could replicate such stats if given the opportunity in the NFL.

With training camp underway or about to be underway, the Charger should act fast and get these players an opportunity to shine. Of course if they aren’t all they were in the CFL then the Chargers don’t lose anything that important.

As my Grandma says, free agency is like life: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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