Big-name QBs such as Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller are on CFL negotiation lists, but don’t expect them to play north of the border soon

One of the most interesting but least-discussed aspects of how CFL teams build a roster is the negotiation list. Each team can put up to 35 players (Canadian or American) on their list, giving them exclusive rights to that player if he decides to play in the CFL. However, because the lists are kept secret, it's tough to tell if players teams sign come off those lists or if they're truly free-agent finds, and when names on the lists do leak, they're frequently big-name players who aren't likely to ever come to Canada. Those leaks are still interesting, though, both in terms of what they say about potential future CFL players and in terms of what they tell us about each team's negotiation list strategy, so some of the names Sportsnet's Arash Madani tweeted Monday are on negotiation lists are worth discussing. Here they are:

There are plenty of interesting names in there. The three Laval players mentioned are perhaps most likely to end up in the CFL, as they're Canadians, but Troup looks like a guy who could potentially come north if his injury issues drive him out of the NFL, while Rugland (the Norwegian kicker who briefly played with the Detroit Lions last year) might fit in under the same terms as Aussie punter Josh Bartel and be counted as a non-import. It's the quarterbacks that really stand out, though, and they're worth further analysis.

College football stars Miller (Ohio State) and Manziel (Texas A&M) are both incredible talents who can make plays with their arms and their legs, and while both are likely to get at least solid NFL interest first, there are questions about what they can do in that league. Having them on the negotiation list could prove a valuable long-term strategy; after all, Montreal eventually landed Heisman winner Troy Smith this season after having him on their list for years, and he became their starting quarterback down the stretch. Keenum's another guy who shone in college with Houston but but has struggled to really make his mark in the NFL thus far, so he's certainly worth keeping on a list.

As per the others? Lewis has shown solid potential with Buffalo, and while Hanie's a less-exciting name thanks to his struggles in the NFL thus far, he's only 28 and is currently a free agent. He could definitely be worth a look. Vince Young seems all but done with football, but the heights he hit with Texas make him maybe worth consideration if he elects to come north. The only names on there that don't really make sense are Russell Wilson, the Seahawks' star who seems likely to have a long NFL career ahead, and Tebow, who's shown no interest in playing north of the border despite being run out of the NFL, might struggle if he did come north, and just signed a deal to serve as an ESPN commentator.

Tebow's case in particular illustrates the need for caution when talking about negotiation lists. The news that he was on Hamilton's negotiation list (and later Montreal's) led to some odd reporting, as some American media outlets took "CFL negotiation list" as a clear indication a player's coming north. While Tebow met the profile of some of the quarterbacks who have tried the CFL (college star, NFL washout), he never expressed any interest in crossing the border, and there were plenty of factors to indicate that the Canadian game was ill-suited for him. (Plus, his media profile should allow him to make far more money as a commentator than as a CFL quarterback.) Similar caution should be exercised with this current crop of negotiation-list names.

It's certainly notable to see players like Manziel and Miller on these lists, and it's worth reporting and discussing in case they flame out quickly in the NFL and want to turn to Canada (where both have a great chance of success thanks to their skillsets), but the odds of either ever playing a CFL down are slim. That should be kept in mind in every discussion of negotiation lists; these lists give teams exclutalented players just in case they turn north than they are about selecting guys who are realistic CFL targets.

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