Practice roster rules have Lions seeing green

If it happens once, it’s amusing. Twice, potentially a bit irritating. A third time? Now it’s become something of a gag line for fans of the B.C. Lions on social media.

Want to make it with the Saskatchewan Roughriders? Make sure the Lions take you in the Canadian college draft.

Rookie offensive lineman Jeremy Zver became the latest to continue his career path in similar fashion when he was picked up by Saskatchewan this week upon being released by the Lions.

To be clear, the Riders did nothing wrong, which is not something that can always be said by an organization which had a six-figure bill for roster misdeeds last year. They also played by the rules last season when the Lions cut draft picks Ese Mrabure-Ajufo and Dillon Guy and were picked up by Saskatchewan.

Three-quarters of the Riders’ starting defensive line and six current defenders overall once took cheques signed by David Braley. In a small league, it happens.

Lions coach/GM Wally Buono also knew exactly what would happen at the end of training camp and had to make a roster decision on Zver, a 23-year-old who was a second-round pick this season from the University of Regina.

Buono put Zver on the one-game injured list to start the season because he said he knew the Riders would take him if he tried putting him on the practice roster. A week later, Buono tried doing just that and Zver quickly moved home.

So the Lions knew exactly what would happen, and at this point are rightly focused on the continuation of their three-game East Division sojourn and a date Thursday with the Montreal Alouettes.

It’s a topic the Lions can one day take up with Randy Ambrosie to see if he can get some traction with the CFLPA about keeping the rights of drafted players longer than training camp as a means to aid development. Ambrosie takes in his first game as the league’s new commissioner Thursday.

The way the Lions boss sees things now though, it’s the player who is missing out.

“We’ve talked to the league about things that would prevent that but at this point that hasn’t occurred and probably won’t,” Buono said on his weekly appearance on the team’s radio flagship station. “A player has the choice whether to accept a PR spot. Yes, there is a better way but no, the union won’t allow you to do it.

“As much as we call get frustrated I’m not going to worry about it. We’ll bring in someone in here next week and he’ll be coached by the best offensive line coach in Canada (Lions assistant Dan Dorazio) and in time he’ll be good.”

It’s pretty clear Zver isn’t too bothered about not having to explore Vancouver’s out-of-control housing market on a practice roster stipend.

“I don’t have to find a spot (to rent) now in Vancouver. I can live at home and sleep in my own bed,” he said on, the Riders’ website.

One draft analyst suggested that making a case of a practice roster player is much ado about nothing. In the week prior to his release, Zver hardly had a half-dozen non-scout team reps with the Lions.

“In any other draft (Zver) probably gets taken in round six or seven. But because he was inflated in a bad draft now he’s highlighted a bit,” said TSN’s Farhan Lalji, who hosts the network’s draft coverage, on 3Down Radio this week. “If he were close (the Lions) would have found a way to keep him but he was miles away so we shouldn’t hand-wring over this one.”

Buono previously spearheaded the closure of a loophole that allowed players with remaining USports/CIS eligibility to become free agents but graduates either must make an active CFL lineup or be subjected to the rules of the practice roster. It makes no sense, but the league or its player’s union hasn’t been compelled to yet find another way.

B.C. still has six players from the current draft class in camp, including two who agreed to practice roster spots, so it’s not as if the Lions have drafted poorly and may be a bigger reflection on the ability of the team taking the players with respect to their own Canadian content. Seeing B.C. players get cut, however, prompts an immediate reaction lately to see whether they’ll end up wearing other colours, like, well, green.

LIONS TALES: A short workweek based in Kingston, Ont., without the benefit of practice roster players back home is among the reasons the Lions will make no personnel changes among starters when they face six former Alouettes on the roster constructed by ex-offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine. B.C. has taken nine sacks in its first two games but that isn’t enough for Buono to make a change with Antonio Johnson at right tackle, saying the blame has to be spread around. “Two of the sacks (against Toronto last week) the quarterback could have helped more. Our offensive line has to be better and our quarterback has to feel the pressure more,” Buono said… B.C. will fly home Friday and have a regular practice regimen at their Surrey facility next week prior to heading east again to face Hamilton July 15.

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.
Lowell Ullrich
Lowell Ullrich
About Lowell Ullrich (174 Articles)
Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.

62 Comments on Practice roster rules have Lions seeing green

  1. …..and the troll comments start.

    • Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 2:27 pm //

      What’s said in this article was all said by me and others yesterday. What more is there to say?
      Its a lousy thing and exists only because of the CBA.
      It was stated specifically Wally knew JONES would take this player. What’s that tell you?

      • truenorthern // July 6, 2017 at 2:39 pm //

        From the article “To be clear, the Riders did nothing wrong”.
        Players have been taken from practices rosters as long as there has been practice rosters.
        Wally has whined, complained, and sought special treatment as long as he has been in the league.

      • Horsepie. It tells me that Wally knew that the kid lived in Regina and would have preferred to have been drafted by the riders in the first place if he had any control over the matter.

        This is a team versus player issue not a team versus team issue.

        The kid had no control over which team drafted him. He signed a contract in good faith. The team reneged on the contract and sent him down to the practice roster. Does it sound like the team is the injured party in the story?

        The headline on their story should have been: slave escapes and master demands the return of his property.

        • Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm //

          lol yet if a player wanted out of Sask to play in his preferred destination he would be damned forever by Rider fans. Please refer to Henry Burris.

          I guess Jones should win a Nobel Prize for freeing this man from his dungeon in BC and liberating him form the “Evil WallY”

          • Horsepie. You are the master at the non sequitur. Your response simply baffles. The rules say that the kid was for you to sign whatever he wanted. He signed with his hometown team. Nothing more to it than that.

            Jones is not a hero and Wally is certainly not evil. As I said this is between the player and team. There was a contract in place. when the team reneged on the contract, the player was a free actor.

            Any “gentleman’s agreement” to restrict The players freedom to move is almost certainly illegal under the provisions of the competition act.

        • BC Dave // July 6, 2017 at 6:31 pm //

          How did the team “reneg” on the contract? LOL
          No kid has any choice where they get drafted, in any sport.
          So tell me, how many slaves have you got right now?
          Sheesh, you guys are getting more ridiculous by the day.

    • BC Dave // July 6, 2017 at 6:26 pm //

      Come on guys. You are becoming as bad as horsie. You saying, “…..and the troll comments start” after a story like this is because you know it’s coming and it’s coming deservedly so. This is fact, not opinion.

      LU said it. “To be clear, the Riders did nothing wrong, which is not something that can always be said by an organization which had a six-figure bill for roster misdeeds last year. Are you going to deny it happened?

      I hope you realize that it also speaks to your recruiting when you wait for other teams to dump their rejects and you pick them up to better yourself. Sure, players move around here and there, esp after training camp cutdown date but…Noticing s pattern here?

      • Hey BC Dave, I’m alittle late on this one. I had another matter to deal with. To answer the first part of the post. I was simply implying that horsie the Troll was going to salvating at this article(even though its another click bait article written by 3down) Its almost like no other team has done this before or something. But of course the Riders comes to the spot light. Because if it was regarding any other team, nobody would comment on it or ignore it in general. Nice you see you guys love The Green and White.

        The second part:
        The Riders did everything the league asked of them and payed the dues. That’s why before the Riders do anything now, they talk to the leauge before hand. Just to make sure they aren’t going to be stepping on anybodys toes. If you ask me, that’s the sign of a classy organization. Admit your wrongdoings, pay the price and learn from it.

        The third part:
        Just you make sure you are clear on this. The Riders were looking at picking him up too, they had him listed behind Bladek on the draft chart. Maybe you should read into a little further, before you make ignorant comments. How about that Javon Johnson drop. Anther teams “trash”(he’s not) is another teams treasure. He’s been nothing but great for us so far since he’s been here.


  2. You’re too hard on yourself. I’d say you’re more of an uneducated regina fan than you are a troll. To each his own I guess.
    Too bad the greatest scouting team the planet has ever seen can’t scout any new players. One cast off after the next and whiner fans can’t figure out why they are back to being your Daddys Riders.

    • Lol uneducated? Shall we start a debate as to who is more educated? Challange accepted Normie.
      Also as the article states.. The Riders have done nothing wrong. Its all well within the Rules. Just because Wally is huffing and puffing doens’t mean he’s going to get the special treatment he wants. I love how he said he had chance to work with the “Best oline coach out there” what a crock. lol

      Horsie and Norm, continue to whine about nothing. Another useless Rider article that 3down has produced. Just more click bait is all it is. This site is turning into the Ads of Facebook. Put what the majority of the readers(must be rider fans)want to hear on the page, just to either get click or stay relevant.

  3. egwertb // July 6, 2017 at 2:36 pm //

    Can’t wait for another 150 comments that have nothing to do with what caused the issue in the first place.

    Plain and simple. Wally Buono just made a bad draft pick. Yet, somehow that gets derailed and what appears instead is all nonsensical “WTH is this” replies.

    • Riders13 // July 6, 2017 at 3:22 pm //

      Exactly. Wally calls the league and tells them how it should be run and suggests “there is a better way but no, the union won’t allow you to do it.” Lol, that’s why there’s a collective agreement in place Wally…so you can’t bend the rules to suit your needs. The situation is the same for all nine teams so stop whining.
      Oh and by the way, I fully expect that stumpy will be on here to compliment the Riders on well they follow the rules. As Jones has said, they don’t do anything without e-mail approval from the league so as to eliminate the grey areas.

      • Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 3:42 pm //

        Wally…so you can’t bend the rules to suit your needs

        That’s a pretty rich statement coming from Riderville under Chris Jones
        No one says Jones did anything illegal… but he did break an “UNWRITTEN CODE”

        • Riders13 // July 6, 2017 at 5:13 pm //

          So your “UNWRITTEN CODE” that you want to champion is for CFL coaches and GMs to be allowed to collude and screw the players as long as they get don’t get caught? Wow, what a hypocrite you are!!! I hope to never see you criticize Jones and the Riders for their fines last year as your morals appear far worse.

        • truenorthern // July 6, 2017 at 5:52 pm //

          There is no “unwritten code”, you just made that up.

          • BC Dave // July 6, 2017 at 6:37 pm //

            Not true. He did not make it up BUT in this case, I do not believe he was plucked off the PR. If I understand the story, he did not accept a PR assignment (which players have the right to do). In that case, they become free agents and this guy wanted to go home to his own bed.

  4. George Porge // July 6, 2017 at 3:13 pm //

    FFS Ulrich. Slow news day or something? You can’t possibly think of anything more useful to write about? Even on a game day? Only a day after a new commissioner was officially announced?

  5. Did the Lions offer the kid his full salary when they put him on the practice roster? I don’t think so. Zero sympathy for the teams in this situation. The players get the short end of the stick 99% of the time.

    • BC Dave // July 6, 2017 at 6:40 pm //

      Of course they did not offer him full pay. It’s $500 per week and if you work hard and someone else does not, or gets injured, you get your opportunity. It’s called paying your dues. When you got your job were you promoted to the top on Day One? Do YOU pay your PR guys full pay? Maybe you do, thus the fines for cap issues and 1659 bodies at practise.

  6. I definitely remember Wally snatching a long snapper from the Riders Practice Roster several years ago. Wally’s hands are not clean here. He has snatched players before. The riders made it clear they were interested in Jeremy and expressed their disappointment in not being able to draft him this year. Wally knew for sure that the riders were interested in him. If players wish to decline the practice roster and be closer to home, and that is their right. Alex Pierzchalski did just that and signed out east a couple of years ago instead of the riders practice roster. I am sure this has happened to all teams at one time or another but this is 3downnation and they clearly have an anti rider bias.

  7. Scottsask // July 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm //

    Correctomundo! Onward!!

  8. We also released Dylan Ainsworth (BC) so he could go home to play. This whole PR deal isn’t as ugly as some want it to be.

  9. Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 4:42 pm //

    Well whatever.
    Zver and Jones got their way.
    Zver will have to lay in the bed he’s made. His career will waste away in Sask like St John’s, Clark’s and Bladek’s is.
    He will be too concerned about his undue release that could come after every game to ever be able to focus on becoming a good player

    • lions4life // July 6, 2017 at 5:26 pm //

      Well whatever? Haha that’s all you got Horsepiss? You’re pathetic. How the hell are you not banned? Oh right, you’re involved with the website you pussy

      • Lmao! I love it lions4life! He obviously is part of the site if he hasn’t been banned yet. This site was for light bickering between fans or bringing fans together to chat about their respective teams. All this clown is doing is spewing non-stop hate and its annoying not just Rider fans, But fans from all across the country.

        • Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 6:01 pm //

          RobE stop being part of the wold pack. You want to settle something with me don’t stand behind the lions (like your team does)

          • Lol Horsie…I don’t need to stand behind anybody. Any time you want to stand toe to toe, I’m more than willing.
            Whether physically or mentally. Bring it on sir

      • Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 6:00 pm //

        That is rude and uncalled for lions4lfe. Have I ever called you names?

        • Funny how just yesterday you said something tasteless to me and the mods deleted your post. And now you’re complaining about a rude comment.

          I can understand why you’re 44 years old and still a virgin.

  10. Once again this case reminds us that running a salary cap on the prairies is easier than in a big city, because housing costs are so much less. The cap is intended to create parity, but it can’t work properly if the players are motivated to avoid Vancouver / Toronto costs.

  11. Riderfan Ron // July 6, 2017 at 6:24 pm //

    Pretty good article. It’s not trying to twist this somehow to find a way to blame Chris Jones. It’s largely fact based and focused on the issue, so now we can have a real discussion on the issue. Should something be done? Should we expand the 46 to 48 by adding two Canadians, for example? Should we stipulate that that those two extra players be draft picks from the current year? This would increase costs for each team, and it would restrict payer freedoms. Also note that so far most teams seem to be doing fine under the current rules. It’s really only one team that’s had a problem, BC.

    • Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 6:39 pm //

      No the answer is not to increase Canadians by 2. There are enough Canadians without having to add more. BC seems to do fine regardless.
      The solution is to respect your colleagues and not take players from their PR. PERIOD!

  12. BC Dave // July 6, 2017 at 6:47 pm //

    Rather than increase roster size (for purposes of THIS discussion because I do want bigger rosters) I think the solution would be to have a two way contract (like NHL/Farm teams) and have the PR pay not count toward the cap. Then increase the PR pay so a guy can afford to live until he gets his opportunity.

  13. Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 7:07 pm //

    It’s wonderful that Mr. Zver is no longer burdened with the cost of living in the lower main land and that he can play at home. However this is not a good reason and should not make it excusable for Jones to do this.
    I understand fully that Jones didn’t break any rules and was within his rights to do this. This still doesn’t make it right. Things like show how unions use their power to screw free enterprise. Zver should be BC’s property plain and simple. All teams respect this with the “UNWRITTEN CODE”.
    Like I said earlier, what goes around will come around for crooked Chris and if Zver ends up on the PR I’d raise HELL if I was Wally

    • George Porge // July 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm //

      Horsieland logic:

      – Allowing a player to reject a contract offer and become available on the open market is

      – Colluding with other teams so that they don’t have to compete for a player on the open market is ethical and supports free enterprise.

      At this point, I don’t know if you’re just sh!tposting here or if you actually are this dense.

      • George Porge // July 6, 2017 at 7:35 pm //

        Hmm. Part of my comment didn’t work. Let’s try again:

        Horsieland logic:

        – Allowing a player to reject a contract offer and become available on the open market is “screwing” free enterprise.

        – Colluding with other teams so that they don’t have to compete for a player on the open market is ethical and supports free enterprise.

        At this point, I don’t know if you’re just sh!tposting here or if you actually are this dense.

      • Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 7:55 pm //

        I have to explain this again.. HE HAS SIGNED A CONTRACT. If he didn’t he wouldn’t be in camp and wouldn’t have been on the IR for week 1.
        He was asked to go on the PR which offers less money. This provides players with an opportunity to get out of their contracts. ONLY BECAUSE ITS A CONCESSION THE LEAGUE MUST GIVE TO GET CBA’s SIGNED. IF the tams wanted that off the table the union would never sign because they want more money and more avenues of money so they can line their pockets.

        If solders in the army could form a union they would be able to quit when assigned to the job of cleaning toilets rather than driving the tanks. Would that be right?

        • George Porge // July 7, 2017 at 9:59 am //

          “I have to explain this again.. HE HAS SIGNED A CONTRACT.”

          Yes. Now I have to explain it again – SO DID THE LIONS. That contract stipulated a specific salary for a specific role on the team. THE LIONS CHOSE TO BREAK THAT CONTRACT by releasing him and putting him on the practice roster at a lower salary than was agreed upon in the contract.

          Again, this is the part you’re missing with your whole “muh free enterprise” gripe. This *is* the free enterprise at work. Two parties free to agree to terms or to part ways. Forcing one party into an agreement without any possibility of negotiation is the opposite of free enterprise.

          “IF the tams wanted that off the table the union would never sign because they want more money and more avenues of money so they can line their pockets.”

          Just like the league would never sign a CBA that didn’t include a salary cap, or which would include revenue sharing with the players. This is a two-way street, Horsie. Both sides gave concessions to get the last CBA signed, and both sides will give concessions to get the next CBA signed. The fact that people like you seem to think that simply letting a player decline a PR contract and sign with another team offering a better opportunity is somehow so anti business that it should be illegal makes it abundantly clear why there even is a CBA in the first place. Given your attitude, you’d have salaries capped at $25k per year for any player and you’d dispose of such nonsense like concussion protocols and modern equipment.

  14. The lions chose to offer him a spot on the practice roster , they player declined. The lions released him and the riders picked him up. Not sure what the big deal is.

    • Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 8:15 pm //

      Why should the Lions be punished for wanting to develop a player? Conversely, why should the riders be rewarded by having weak Canadian o-line depth that warrants playing under developed drafted prospects?

  15. If they wanted to develope him they should have found a spot for him. They chose to develope/ keep somebody else on the roster. The Lions weren’t punished they made a choice

  16. Buono and Jones are cut from the same cloth of coaching

    Buono is well known for having turnstile of players while in Calgary and still in BC ( yes Horsieland ) , Jones is doing exactly what Buono did 20 Years ago .

    Buono plays CFL’s grey areas , just like Jones .

    • BC Dave // July 7, 2017 at 1:13 am //

      Wally does NOT have a turnstile. What he does every year or so is let an older Vet go and replace him with someone not quite as good, YET, and at half the cost. That also prevents the whole team from aging at the same time. Always keeps the average age of the team close to the same place, give or take a bit. He did that with, for example, Jason Clermont. Part of the reason he decided he wanted more speed at that position so Paris Jackson was the guy and that made Clermont expendable. He did the same with others. With Jones, the door is revolving o fast you could use it a a fan to col the whole province.

      Wally has class and integrity. No idea where you get the impression they are cut from the same cloth.

  17. Scottsask // July 6, 2017 at 9:06 pm //


  18. Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 9:17 pm //

    Buono is the model of consistency! He is known to keep his core together for years. This has been the key to his success.
    I don’t know how you form your opinions but this is categorically false about Buono

  19. Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 9:27 pm //

    Buono and Jones are cut from the same cloth of coaching
    I don’t remember Wally being fined for $160,000.00
    I don’t remember Wally bring in former, fat NFL star QB’s that are know compete reprobates
    I don’t remember Wally avoiding handshakes
    I don’t remember Wally spending like a Kardashian on allowance day during FA

  20. Judge Jones // July 6, 2017 at 9:59 pm //

    Buano had 6-7 rookies on the roster. He released one. guess why? Just maybe he was not at the level of the others. Anyway this story will be done when he’s released.

  21. The cfl never did anything about it before. Every team in the league used to do it. The league clamped down on it and riders got fined and rightfully so. Bueno has always had a lot of turnover on his roster. How a team spends it’s money doesn’t matter because there is a cap. Wallet has always said he gives players a second chance.

  22. I can’t believe that Wally is upset and of course not surprised that Horsie is thinking that this is a Chris Jones conspiracy.

    The FACTS:
    1) BC drafted the guy.
    2) BC decided that he wasn’t good enough for the active roster and offerred him a practice roster spot (and by the way it pays a FRACTION) of the contract he signed.
    3) His agent advised him to turn down the practice roster spot and become a free agent.
    4) Chris Jones as part of an effort to rebuild the Canadian depth on the Roughriders makes an offer.
    5) Player accepts the offer at a rate that certainly is greater than what a practice roster spot would pay
    6) Player as a bonus gets also to live in his hometown and play for the team he undoubtedly grew up cheering for.

    Other than to bring in the Jones haters there is no story here to tell. Wally had an opportunity to keep the kid on the active roster and therefore under contract. He didn’t. Time to move on.

    • Horsieland // July 6, 2017 at 11:33 pm //

      Yes thank you Keith for summarizing these obvious series of events .No one is disputing the events.

      • Then why are you whining about it? Other than the fact that Chris Jones got a Canadian offensive lineman without having to give up anything of course.

        • That is a crazy valid point Keith. Love it!

        • Horsieland // July 7, 2017 at 7:24 pm //

          If you took pause and read my above comments you’d understand why I care. Stop hating and listen/read instead.
          We all need to give Keith a hug

  23. Edmfan1993 // July 7, 2017 at 10:27 am //

    Wally put Zver on the 1-game injury list to kill his CIS eligibility. Then offered him PR week two when the player has less leverage. It is a business on both sides.

  24. Zver had no CIS eligibility left regardless of whether or not he went on the 1IR.

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