Some theories on why the Ticats signed Andy Fantuz to a front office deal

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced that Canadian receiver Andy Fantuz will return to the club this season, just like Dunk and I said they would. But there’s a twist: at least for now, his title will be “coordinator of player development” and he’ll be working in the front office. It’s raised some eyebrows…

Sources tell me Fantuz fully intends to play this season once the torn ligament in his knee is fully healed. The injury occurred on Oct. 28 with surgery taking place on Nov. 24 and the recovery period is typically six months for the super human and 18 months for those with complications. Fantuz’s rehab is reportedly going well but I think the most optimistic target for a return date is Labour Day and mid-October is probably more likely.

So why give him a front office title, why not just sign him to standard player contract?

Fantuz’s salary will not count against the salary cap while a member of the front office but the Ticats could have put Fantuz on the veterans’ injured exempt list in training camp, meaning he wouldn’t have taken one of the valuable spots on the 75-man roster (the team did the same thing with quarterback Zach Collaros and safety Craig Butler last year.) He would have then moved to the six-game injured list, where his salary would not count against the cap.

But players on the six game injured list need to miss the full six games in order for their salary to remain exempt from cap: if they come back early, then the entire amount from the full six games counts against the cap. But because Fantuz isn’t on the six-game, the Ticats will have more flexibility on when he returns: they’ll have to sign him to a player contract before he can practice with the team but they’ll likely do that a couple of weeks before they think he’s ready to play.

The Ticats could also, in theory, save some cap money by paying Fantuz a sizeable salary as a member of the front office, then sign him to minimum contract if and when he’s ready to play. Fantuz’s total compensation could be roughly the same but depending on how many games he suits up for, the difference in the pro-rated salaries – and therefore the cap charge – could be significant. Front office salaries and player contracts aren’t made public so we may never know the structure of the deal, though the CFL would have access to all the details.

There are other advantages. By giving Fantuz a defined front office role, they make him more than just an injured player helping out – it’s recognition his contribution goes further than that. He has a long-standing relationship with head coach Kent Austin – they won a Grey Cup together in Saskatchewan in 2007 – and he’s a favourite of quarterback Zach Collaros. He knows this offence very well. When I spoke to offensive coordinator Stefan Ptaszek at mini-camp about his steep learning curve last season, Fantuz was one of two players he mentioned as being particularly helpful (Luke Tasker was the other.) Ptaszek is in just his second year on the job and support from Fantuz could certainly be an asset.

What’s in it for Fantuz? Well, he gets a paycheque while he rehabs his knee, so that’s nice. He gets some valuable experience as precursor to his post-football life and he gets to not just be around the football team but to have a defined role in helping that football team – and that could make a psychological difference in his rehab. The biggest concern for a player like Fantuz is that he’ll push himself too hard, too fast – Collaros was wired like that, too – and by giving him another way to contribute could help things go smoothly.

The CFL signed off on the deal so that should settle any lingering questions about the legality of the situation.

Austin and Fantuz are meeting with the media tomorrow so we’ll get the official explanation on Friday.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1394 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

76 Comments on Some theories on why the Ticats signed Andy Fantuz to a front office deal

  1. Antlerman // May 18, 2017 at 8:01 pm //

    So does his wage count against the cap

  2. SMS cap is for players only, so until he’s a player I’d say no cap hit.
    And as Drew mentioned, he’d have been 6-gamed anyway (I think probably twice) so if he’d signed a players’ contract it wouldn’t have counted vs. cap space.

  3. mrnehnehincognito // May 18, 2017 at 8:17 pm //

    I’m sure a smart individual like Fantuz would be an asset in the front office moving forward

    • Hadenufofmrnehnehincognito // May 23, 2017 at 4:44 pm //

      I am sure if Chris Jones had done this he would have been fined, what a joke.

  4. oirbety // May 18, 2017 at 8:21 pm //

    Considering all the other times the term “sneaky good move” has been used on this site for seemingly no reason, this time it is appropriate.

    Who in the league is allowing fake titles to circumvent the salary cap? Oh yeah; there is nobody at the top with any power, and that’s how the league likes it.

    • LumberJoes Inc // May 19, 2017 at 7:12 pm //

      Austin and Tillman have been thinking they are special since their days in Sasky. If they were playing by the rules they would have put Fantuz on the six game injury list like all other teams have to.

      Did Tillman cheat? Do fish swim in the ocean?

  5. This is going to allow the Ticats to sign Fantuz to a cheap contract to finish out the year while they pay him nicely while he’s in the front office. It’s really a loophole for the Ticats to get cap relief once Fantuz is back. It’s dishonest as no other team is doing this. If the Riders did this right now everyone would be up in arms in protest.

    • The Argos did this two years ago. And they made an injured running back a strength and conditioning coach well he rehabbed. But mainly I agree it’s a loophole that should be closed

  6. I think this is a win win for both parties. Keeps Andy close by for when he is ready, but if he feels the knee isn’t going to hold up there is already a job for him.

  7. Maybe the league should have “accident ” insurance to cover players for a portion or the rest of their contract? Some coverage of a salare through an insurance means should not affect the Salary Cap.

  8. Lindsay Wilcox // May 18, 2017 at 9:06 pm //

    Drew’s blog described and analyzed the nuances quite well.
    I’m glad he’s back and I have faith he will do well in his administrative role until such time as he AND the team decide he’s ready to play.

  9. Now won’t other teams sign players during the off season as “special office/sales coordinators etc. for big dollars that won’t be part of the cap then sign them to a players contract just before training camp for peanuts? Seems to me that there is a loop hole here!

  10. fantoos // May 18, 2017 at 9:22 pm //

    I believe Chad Kackert was the Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Argos May 2014 before he was re activated in Sept 2015.

  11. Mr Curling sees Vince Young as the new Receptionist, His $500,000 Receptionist salary should not count against the cap, just his $50 player salary. Thanks Hamilton you’ve just opened the floodgates

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 18, 2017 at 10:50 pm //

      Mr Curling you probably have more than that stuffed between the cushions of your massive limo. It must bore you to talk about such small amounts of money. Mr Curling spends more a year on decorative soap then the salary caps of all 9 teams combined

  12. Were ever Andy ends up he’ll be a all star.

  13. Yes I have loads of money, but issue is is Hamilton circumventing the cap? If so the Riders should jump on board fast, the league can’t point finger straight at Riders since they approved this scheme first to “help the beleaguered east”

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 18, 2017 at 11:14 pm //

      Chris Jones wasn’t smart enough to think of it first

    • Maybe you missed the part that said the league signed off on this and is fully aware? Austin said (in his presser) that he had the whole plan vetted with the league. It’s a smart way to keep a valuable player around who’d be helping out players anyway and give him a defined role. That isn’t circumventing the cap at all. WHEN Andy is ready to play and signs a player contract it will count towards the cap.

  14. he’s smarter than I thought, and Murphy seems to be an asset also. The Meredith coup has got Mr Curling excited, and the concentration on the O-Line shows we’re on the right track! Yeah Riders, win a game soon!!!

  15. Greenland // May 18, 2017 at 11:35 pm //

    The Riders and every other team will jump on board.But now the teams with the most money will have the advantage.

  16. Hamilton actually threw the league out of whack with Austin’s coaching salary, Mr Curling heard his price was $1,000,000 a year. Riders could afford but didn’t want to set a precedent, now look whats happened!

  17. DundasDude // May 19, 2017 at 4:18 am //

    Beauty. Getting an advantage wherever they can, Go Cats! The Cup in 2017! Andy on the winning squad!

  18. Philski // May 19, 2017 at 4:51 am //

    Theory is simple. Screw the CFL. Because certain referees have screwed KA…2014 GC notwithstanding. A tip of the hat from me KA as I’m usually a critic.

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 19, 2017 at 9:00 am //

      lol are you still on about that. KA was nor screwed the proper call was made. Despite the close score Calgary dominated that game and were the rightful winners. That block completely changed the dynamic of that return

      • never mind the block, Calgary was inside the 5 yds and it wasn’t called. Calgary got lucky, plain and simple.

        • mrnehnehincognito // May 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm //

          The fact Austin didn’t blow up and punch the official tells me it was the right call

        • Philski // May 20, 2017 at 3:43 am //

          Very astute point that barely get’s mentioned – especially by Stump fans. Gee, I wonder why?

      • DundasDude // May 20, 2017 at 12:33 am //

        Yes, yes “Calgary dominated the game”… just like they did the league over the last 5 years (and still needed a phoney punt blocking infraction to eek out one championship during this “domination”).

        • mrnehnehincognito // May 20, 2017 at 12:42 am //

          I think someone is jealous of the pure dominance Calgary has had over this league

          • CanuckDomer // May 20, 2017 at 12:12 pm //

            We would be “jealous” if that “pure dominance” had translated into championships…Calgary is just another good team that can’t win when things are on the line

        • Philski // May 20, 2017 at 3:47 am //

          He was paralyzed with disbelief like the rest of us TC fans who were at BC Place. Hard to move your legs, or arms for that matter when they are frozen to your torso.

        • Philski // May 20, 2017 at 3:53 am //

          So true my DundasDude friend…so true…the leaders in phantom assistance for sure.

      • Philski // May 20, 2017 at 3:41 am //

        Yes. No. No. Yes albeit for the wrong reason.

  19. Ottawa Rob // May 19, 2017 at 8:40 am //

    Wow….I am disappointed in the comments here. If Sask had just made this very same move AND the league office approved it, the Hamilton posters on this side would be up in arms and pissed off at both the league office and the Riders, and IMO rightfully so.

    I am certainly no fan of Chris Jones and the way he seems to do business, but what Hamilton is doing here in not much better. While this move may be technically in compliance with the salary cap, it is certainly against the spirit of the salary cap.

    This loophole must be closed down by the league or teams will abuse this loophole like crazy now that the door is open. Remember Edmonton in the 70’s and 80’s….they basically had an unlimited budget while teams like Saskatchewan and Hamilton could not afford to keep up.

    Remember, the salary cap came into being to save the league…to create an equal playing field for all teams. Do we want to go back to the 90’s where the league nearly folded.

    Today with the salary cap as a large part of the financial equation, teams are putting up new stadiums, and every team is profitable or can see the way to becoming profitable.

    We don’t have the media talking about the league like they did in 1996 when they were wondering if that was going to be the last Grey Cup ever. We don’t have wacky owners like the Gleibermans or Nelson Skalbania buying teams and running them into the ground, because credible owners want nothing to do with the league because it is not financially viable.

    Remember…those who forget history are doomed to repeat it….and the fans who are crowing about what a great move this is are certainly showing that they have a short memory.

  20. mrnehnehincognito // May 19, 2017 at 9:02 am //

    I wouldn’t say Austin’s moral compass is much higher than Jones’s

    • Philski // May 20, 2017 at 4:43 am //

      I agree. Perhaps all teams then should pattern their “moral compasses” after the Stamps? So tell me, how’s Tommie Campbell doing these days?

  21. Andy Fantuz is the best player in the league to represent the CFL:he is Canadian,he is dedicated,a friendly demeanor,and a talent that only a few can match.Andy Fantuz is the best the CFL has and there is no doubt he should be revered.
    There are no special deals that can pay Fantuz for his style and contribution to the CFL.

  22. This is a legitimate move until it is not, that is up to the league to figure out. Everyone knows that if your team did this it would be awesome. Remember it’s not cheating until it’s it’s in the rule book. ( between you and me though…. this move is cheeting!!! )

  23. Gotta love Rider fans. EVERYTHING in the league is somehow about the Riders. “If the Riders did this…”, “The Riders should jump on board…”. Somehow every move any team makes has something to do with the Riders. Comical.

  24. Just heard the Riders Practice squad, I mean secretarial pool, averages 330 lbs no more fines for too many players!

  25. "HAWKS" // May 19, 2017 at 9:57 am //

    This isn’t cheating.
    Fantuz isn’t a rookie, he is a veteran that knows his playing days are limited and he is starting to think about life after football. The Tiger-Cats are helping him with that transition.

    Also, as stated the CFL has signed off on the deal, so they are aware of the transaction. The Tiger-Cats aren’t hiding anything from the leauge.

    • Ottawa Rob // May 19, 2017 at 10:10 am //

      But it goes against the spirit of the salary cap…The ti-cats have found a loophole and are using it.

      How would you feel if another team…Lets say for example, Ottawa signed Trevor Harris to a contract to work in their football ops dept in the off season at a rate of 300K ( which would not count against the cap), then had him play under a contract that would count under the cap at a league minimum salary. Would you still feel the same way?

      Either Fantuz is a player or he is not. If he wants to continue as a player, sign a players contract, go on the injured list to free up the cap space, and be subject to the same roster & cap rules as everyone else if you want to come off early.

      • Again, we are Tiger-Cats NOT CHEETAHS.Fantuz is what he is, the greatest in the CFL.

      • "HAWKS" // May 19, 2017 at 1:09 pm //

        “But it goes against the spirit of the salary cap”
        Sorry i’m not sure what that means. What is “the spirit of the salary cap”?

        Trevor Harris is in the prime of his career. Andy Fantuz is finishing up his career and is not making 300k a year. It’s apples and oranges.

        Also, the CFL and other major sport league’s have a history of having “player coaches”, it’s a thing and it happens, so it’s not that unheard of.

        • Ottawa Rob // May 19, 2017 at 2:33 pm //

          Ok, Let me phrase it another way…When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the “letter”) of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law. In this case, although the ti-cats might be obeying the letter of the salary cap regulations, they are most certainly not following the intent and rational behind which they were created.

          BTW…let me be clear…this is a league issue, not a ti-cat issue….the league must close this loophole.

          The reason I used the Trevor Harris example was to show that once the loophole is exploited and the door is opened, there is no reason that any team could not go a lot further in exploiting it.

          In your example of a player/coach…the player portion salary would still count against the cap.

          In the Fantuz case…he doesn’t count against the cap, the same as if he started the season on the injured reserve, but Hamilton can activate him at any point and not be subject to the cap implications of taking someone off the 6 game injury list early. This is the competitive advantage they are gaining.

      • Philski // May 20, 2017 at 4:07 am //

        TC’s found a loophole, just like CW did before he eventually played for your team, right? Funny, I don’t remember any Ottawa fans complaining when he joined your team after being rejected by the NFL for the 1000th time. This of course was after he decided to ignore his contractual obligations (otherwise known as “breech of contract”) with the TC’s, having found a “loophole” with his agent and subsequently went MIA. Ah, but that’s different, right?

        • Ottawa Rob // May 20, 2017 at 3:14 pm //

          Yes the ti-cats found a loophole….What I am saying is that the league should close it.

          Now if you want to talk about someone being a hypocrite, how about Kent Austin.

          Sask let’s Kent Austin out of his coaching contract to take the OC jobs at Mississippi yet when Chris Williams asks Kent Austin to do the same so Williams could cash in on an NFL opportunity, Austin refuses. And you wonder why Williams would be bitter against the ti-cats?

          • And the reason that Austin wanted out of that contract to go to Old Miss was because he wanted to be closer to his mother who was terminally ill! Williams sure didn’t have that kind of situation in his life. There’s a WHOLE lot of difference there!

          • Ottawa Rob // May 23, 2017 at 8:19 am //

            IMO I don’t really see the difference…in both cases the teams had the opportunity to do the right thing…release the person from their contract for family reasons…in one case health, the other case a chance to make life changing money for his family…

          • Philski // May 21, 2017 at 3:55 am //

            CW has nothing to be bitter about. Then TC GM O’Billovich basically rescued him from the scrap heap when he got the boot from the Browns and nobody wanted him. So how does he repay the organization? By walking out on them and leaving them high and dry, not only at WR but also at P/K returner to begin the 2013 season. Real classy.

          • Ottawa Rob // May 23, 2017 at 8:26 am //

            Teams release players early from contracts all of the time so they can have a run at the NFL…because they recognize that that the players can make life changing money down there and to hold them back from an opportunity that may not be available to the player in a years time is not the right way to do business

    • Sharp eye for the details Hawk! I second, your determination.

    • Hawks, this isn’t cheating because they haven’t written it into the rules yet because it is absolutely bending the rules with loopholes. Mr. Curling is bang on with his joke and expect Jones to do the same in coming years. Had he done it first the bashing would have been hilarious as all of the angry jealous haters come out to play.

  26. Rider realist // May 19, 2017 at 11:33 am //

    Strange how every story turns into a riderrs critique. Let’s just hope they are highly competitive this year because the other teams box office depends on it

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 19, 2017 at 2:08 pm //

      you see Rider realist……you make that last comment about everyone depending on the riders success. You hold this illusion on grandeur and yet you whine when people criticize your team. If you want to be the “primer” organization of the league you can’t also complain when you’re also the most scrutinized. You can’t have it both ways!!

  27. This seems well thought out and big win win for Hamilton. I laugh to myself how the story would have been written by the site and the response had it been the Riders pulling this type of deal before anyone else.

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 19, 2017 at 2:09 pm //

      awwwww do you want a tissue Kevin?

      • Mr. Nito it was just an accurate comment. BTW I have only needed a tissue after the 2009 Grey Cup. And maybe almost when they released Chick….and then Dressler, but outside of that I’m totally fine.

  28. Stéphane // May 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm //

    The rest of the league is not happy about this. I know the Als aren’t for sure. The league has clamped down on Jones and the Riders. Its now time to do the same with Austin and Tillman.

  29. mrnehnehincognito // May 19, 2017 at 2:13 pm //

    To all the riderfans
    Have you ever thought maybe the Ti-cats have given him an office job because they see value in his abilities post playing career? He’s a local and maybe he aspires to an executive position. I love how rider fans automatically assume nefarious dealings here to hide his salary from the salary cap

  30. Antlerman // May 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm //

    Oh ya Stampy..if Chris Jones did this you be on the the Pulpit Preaching to the Choir that he was the devil encarnate

  31. solara2000 // May 19, 2017 at 4:52 pm //

    Don’t know what the fuss is all about. Fantuz the Secretary or whatever his non-palyer title is, can’t play until he is activated and to do that, someone else has to released, waived or placed on the PR (again somebody else is out).
    In his capacity of Administration, he will be paid and that cost will be borne by the team as an Overhead expense so it isn’t as though we are going to see an avalanche of such moves adding to the total costs for the club, either eating into any profit generated or incurring loss.
    p.s. I agree with the comment re insurance but I would expect, given the frequency and severity of injury, the risk and the premiums would be onerous and not make sense from a business sense for either the insurer and/or the insured. If insurance made sense, the exclusion from WCB benefits would probably not be the order of the day.

  32. Scottsask // May 19, 2017 at 5:17 pm //

    Greasy yet well thought out move by the Hammer. So when does Chris Jones get fined for this?! Bazinga!!!

  33. Antlerman // May 19, 2017 at 7:36 pm //

    Exactly i personally dont care how Ti Cats spends their money

  34. DundasDude // May 20, 2017 at 12:49 am //

    With this type of injury and Fantuz’s age, it is entirely possible his playing days are finished. One cannot heal the human body with certainty of changing a tire on a car.

    Also, this thread isn’t about the Riders, and the Tigercats are gonna win the holy grail of football in 2017!

  35. mrnehnehincognito // May 20, 2017 at 1:01 am //

    How are the Ti-cats benefiting from this? Were teams lining up to sign this guy? NO! He’s an older player with a serious injury who likely won’t be able to play until October..that’s practically the whole season,
    The Ti-cats could have sat back waited for the season to start and sign him when the injury is substantially healed. In fact they could still sign him now and place him on IR and not have his salary count against the cap. The Ticats are adding overhead their operation and really have nothing to gain except a new employee. People need to chill. Austin hasn’t discovered some new loophole to circumvent the salary cap. Honestly would this really be that tricky to figure out????? Just say a player works for a the front office!!
    In the mid 90’s the league made this type of circumvention illegal after Larry Ryckman paid Flutie in a way that is principally the same as this.
    Rider fans..relax…the world isn’t against you

  36. Matt Harvey // May 20, 2017 at 9:27 am //

    So that’s 3 key TC players to go down with knee injuries on Tim Hortons Field. (Fantuz, Collaros and Butler) is there a problem with our high tech turf? Very concerning if it’s contributing to shortening careers of league elite.

  37. I used to like reading the comments but since cement head fans from other teams read all of 3DownNation now, it sucks.
    I’m sure there are actually many players that could genuinely be helpful to their team in some capacity while recovering from injury. If you truly know and follow the Cats and Fantuz, you would believe his contributions while recovering will be more than just a player that is in recovery.

  38. Chopper11 // May 21, 2017 at 10:02 am //

    Note to all: huge difference between Austin and Jones : class vs no class, and that’s only to start. Follow both, the way they’ve carried out their activities AND adversity, and how they’ve responded.
    I’d want no other GM in the Hammer.

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