Tiger-Cats' Williams to have arbitration hearing Thursday

Dave Naylor

5/15/2013 10:25:25 AM

The football future of Hamilton Tiger-Cat Chris Williams should soon become clearer as the all-star receiver's claim for immediate free agency goes to arbitration on Thursday.

Williams, who had 1,298 receiving yards and scored 17 touchdowns last season, remains under contract to the Tiger-Cats for what would be his third CFL season in 2013.

However, Williams' agent, Dan Vertlieb, is attempting to free his client from the final year of that deal, presumably to pursue opportunities in the National Football League.

While both Vertlieb and the Tiger-Cats have declined comment on the matter, it is believed the case may hinge on whether the Tiger-Cats can prove they offered Williams the option of committing for just two seasons instead of three.

Williams' contract was arranged by his previous agent, who was not certified by the CFL Players Association, another possible point of contention in the case.

The Tiger-Cats have offered to tear up Williams' current contract if he agrees to sign a new one that would make him one of the CFL's highest-paid non-quarterbacks. But that invitation has been turned down.

Williams' dispute with his team went public a few months ago when he Tweeted to a former college teammate that he did not plan to return to Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats subsequently put out a statement saying they expected to see him at the start of training camp.
The CFL used to allow players entering the option years of their contracts to try out with NFL teams during the off-season. However, the league eliminated that provision as part of its latest CBA, which means players such as Williams must fulfill the full extent of their contracts before shopping their services to NFL teams.
It is unclear how long it will take for there to be a ruling on the matter.