Former Florida state running back James Wilder Jr. announced his decision to sit out the 2018 Canadian Football League season in a statement released 3rd Down Nation earlier this week.
Wilder, who was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2017, is protesting due to concerns over compensation from his team — the Toronto Argonauts — as well as the franchise’s hesitation in allowing him the opportunity to pursue any potential NFL options.
Here is a copy of his full statement:
“I wish it could be different. I don’t want to put my football dreams aside but as the father of four, playing for $56,000 Canadian (about $45,000 USD) without any protection from career-ending injury isn’t enough to give my family comfort,” Wilder wrote. “I’ve received expressions of interest from several NFL teams and I’ve reached out to the Argonauts on multiple occasions but have been told they won’t allow me to pursue those opportunities. They are also unwilling to re-negotiate my contract to reflect the value I believe I bring to the team.”
Wilder recorded 872 rushing yards (7.2 yards per carry) and five touchdowns in 17 games, as well as 51 receptions for 533 yards. The rookie started in six regular season games and led the Argos to a 5-1 record in that span before winning the Grey Cup in November.
Wilder was a former five-star prospect prior to signing with Florida State and was a member of the Seminoles’ 2013 national championship team.
He recorded 1,363 yards and 20 touchdowns on 226 rushing attempts, as well as 24 receptions for 182 yards and two scores during three seasons in Tallahassee.
Wilder was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in May 2015 and waived three months later before re-signing to the team’s practice squad. He also signed a reserve/future contract with the Buffalo Bills in 2016, but has never appeared in an NFL game.