The CFL is voting to change their stance on NFL players using Canada and their football league as a figurative layover destination. The prior rule on newly signed NFL talent required incoming NFL players to serve two years in the CFL before the "NFL window" opened back up.
TSN’s David William Naylor reports the CFL had discussed the idea of changing the rule before but failed to do so. A more recent vote saw a change of the policy, eliminating that two-year commitment. As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explains, certain former NFL players can now "work out for NFL teams and sign contracts that would become effective at the end of a given CFL season.”
Breaking: CFL teams vote to reinstate “NFL Window” ... allowing CFL players to work-out for NFL teams/sign NFL contracts heading in off-season heading into the final year of their CFL deals. Matter was voted down in January, approved this week. #CFL— David William Naylor (@TSNDaveNaylor) July 20, 2018
The new ruling reads that players who come in must finish their committed season with the CFL but can head back after only one year. This change will apply to players who sign with the CFL after August 20th of 2018, which means players like Johnny Manziel, Dexter McCluster or Terrell Owens (should he sign in the CFL before August 20) do not and would not qualify.
The reason for the sudden change of heart is unclear but there is speculation pressure from the spring football leagues and brands like the XFL — which will presumably allow players to return to the NFL if offered contracts — would have stopped talent from looking to the CFL. There was also word that CFL GM's were already unpleased with how difficult it had become to recruit players.
If that pressure is real, it's not out of the realm of possibility this new one-year rule change could turn into a full NFL-out clause that allows players to leave for the NFL at any time.
While not all CFL fans will be behind the rule change and some will see this as the CFL caving under the pressure of bigger and alternative brands of football, this was an issue the league needed to get out ahead of. The risk in having fewer players see the CFL as an option and talent moving to other leagues that are more flexible was real and would have only hurt the CFL long-term.