2021 CFL season

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2021 CFL season
DurationAugust 5 – November 20, 2021
East championsHamilton Tiger-Cats
West championsWinnipeg Blue Bombers
108th Grey Cup
DateDecember 12, 2021
VenueTim Hortons Field, Hamilton
ChampionsWinnipeg Blue Bombers
CFL seasons
← 2020 (cancelled)
2022 →

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 and ended November 20.[1][2] Each team played 14 regular season games over 16 weeks.[2] Previously, the season was scheduled to begin on June 10 and end on October 30, 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[edit]

Resumption of play[edit]

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[edit]

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 Inuit.[7]

Salary cap[edit]

According to the new collective bargaining agreement, the 2021 salary cap was scheduled to be $5,350,000 (or an average of $118,888 per active roster spot).[8][9] That number was subject to change as players would have revenue sharing of 20% from broadcast deals, but could also change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[9] Individual minimum salaries were 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 was the first season with all CFL Draft picks subject to a pay scale, with the first overall pick earning approximately $85,000.[8]


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 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 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 that the season would be delayed until at least August 5, with a revised schedule released on June 15.[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 did not play against each other in the regular season and each team played 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 could not have been 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 had received at least one vaccine dose, players received their salary for the unplayed game and the team was credited with a 1–0 win.[12]

Potential partnership with the XFL[edit]

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, with no action taken.[14] The XFL subsequently confirmed it would not resume play until 2023 at the earliest.

Global players[edit]

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

COVID-19 restrictions[edit]

Some CFL teams enforced limitations on spectator capacity for their games. Even without capacity restrictions, teams still 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, 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[edit]

Signing moratorium[edit]

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[edit]

The 2021 free agency period began on February 9 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 January 31, ending February 7.[34] All formal offers to a player during this time would be sent to both the league and the players union and could not be rescinded.[34][35]

Trade deadline[edit]

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

Regular season[edit]


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


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

Playoff bracket[edit]

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

*-Team won in Overtime.


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[edit]

CFL Top Performers of the Week[edit]

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


CFL Top Performers of the Month[edit]

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


2021 CFL All-Stars[edit]



Special teams[edit]


2021 CFL Western All-Stars[edit]



Special teams[edit]


2021 CFL Eastern All-Stars[edit]



Special teams[edit]


2021 CFL Awards[edit]


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