CFL player Derek Jones finds himself amid a contract squabble with the CFL. Jones signed a contract back in September or October 2021, but by December he had run into some passport issues.
Due In part to these passport issues Jones had decided that he would remain in the US and pursue his opportunities within the USFL draft. After making his intentions known to the CFL with several months notice he assumed there would be no issue. This request has become fairly common in recent years for CFL players, he watched several other players be released from their deals to pursue contracts with the USFL. However his request remain unheard.
We watched as prominent names like Paxton Lynch and Shea Patterson were released from their contracts to go on to be draft picks in the USFL draft, but yet Derrick for some odd reason was ignored by the CFL. He was ultimately told that he would be better off in the CFL, from CFL representatives. When he contacted other people within the Canadian Football League he was told that they thought this situation had been handled. No one from the CFL even replied to Jones until yesterday following the USFL draft when his name was in turn called by the New Orleans Breakers.
The Canadian Football League prides themselves in being the premier league outside of the United States of America, and most of us as football fans would agree. However I believe that this situation with Derrick Jones was grossly mishandled by the CFL and it’s representatives. To allow this man’s request to go unheard, when he had valid reasoning behind why he would want to void his contract, is nothing short of a mistake on the CFL side.
Bruce Arians was quoted in the 2021 season as saying “you can’t force players to play”, yet the CFL must not have heard this because here they are trying to force Derrick Jones to play for them in the 2022 season. That was in regards to a difficult player in a great situation, this is a poorly handled situation with the kind of player any team would want.
Reports have leaked, that the CFL does not intend to release Jones from his contract to pursue opportunities in the supplemental draft at this point. In my opinion the CFL is doing their best job to botch this as badly as they can. Derrick Jones is not going to fade silently into the background as a CFL player, giving up the ability to play closer to his family. He ultimately does not want to be there and he is not going to silence himself for the good of a league that hasn’t done right by him.
Derrick Jones is the exact type of player that you do not want to take advantage of and try to treat this way. While Jones is a very respectful man, he is also very persistent, he will not let his request to be released from his contract with the CFL go unheard. Nor should he, every year the CFL grants release requests to players so they can pursue opportunities in their country of origin, it seems they’re only motivation behind trying to keep Jones in the CFL is because he’s trying to cover their tracks on an ugly situation.
It remains to be seen if the CFL will ultimately honor his request to be released, but I would urge the CFL to do the right thing by Derrick Jones and let him pursue opportunities in his home country where he was just drafted by the USFL. To hold this man contractually hostage, when he has made his intentions known like several other players before him, who saw their requests granted is nothing short of public relations suicide by the Canadian Football League for the 2022 season.
I for one quickly became a Derrick Jones fan upon hearing his story and speaking with him personally, he is simply a father trying to provide for his kids and be as close to them as possible. This is a sentiment than any parent can understand and should support no matter what the cost may be. I understand that the CFL wants to keep the most promising young players within their league which you could certainly consider Derrick Jones, but this is the wrong way to go about it.
CFL you need to let this man free so he can be with his kids and pursue his football career in the United States, before the following you’ve worked hard to gain in the US falls apart amidst a PR nightmare that can be solved easily.