James Wilder Jr.

The biggest news in the Canadian Football League this past week is not who is playing in 2018, but who is not. On Wednesday it was reported that Toronto Argonauts running back James Wilder Jr. would not be returning to the 2018 Canadian Football League season because of personal concerns Wilder Jr. had with the CFL’s insurance policy.

The bottom line is that Wilder Jr. has aspirations in following his father, James Wilder Sr., to the National Football League. Wilder Jr. is concerned that if he happens to get injured this season, then he will not be able to sign a rich NFL contract in 2019. Wilder Jr. was to make $56,000 this season, but may not see any of that now if the Argonauts decide to suspend him for not playing.

Wilder Jr., who signed a two year contract with the Argonauts on March 14, 2017, got an opportunity to be the Argonauts starter when Brandon Whittaker suffered an injury. In 2017, Wilder Jr. had 122 carries for 872 yards and five touchdowns, and 51 receptions for 533 yards. Ironically Wilder Jr. said earlier in the offseason that he wanted to reach 1000 rushing yards and 1000 receiving yards in 2018. That will not happen now.

Wilder Jr.’s decision is a tricky one to analyze. Obviously the Argonauts management and fan base have the right to be disappointed for their star running back not fulfilling his initial contract obligations, but from a player perspective Wilder Jr. understands the risk of injury running backs face and it would not be shocking if he decides to sit out the season.

Besides the statistics, Wilder Jr. had a brilliant 2017 CFL season. In addition to being the CFL’s rookie of the year, Wilder Jr. also was instrumental in the Argonauts winning the Grey Cup.

In other CFL news, Darian Durant has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Expect Durant to backup Matt Nichols in 2018. Meanwhile, former Calgary Stampeders head coach Bob Vespaziani died at the age of 82 on Saturday. Vespaziani coached the Stampeders from 1986 to 1987 and was an assistant coach for 16 CFL seasons with the Stampeders, B.C. Lions, Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders.