TORONTO — The Toronto Argonauts have signed running back James Wilder Jr. to a two-year contract extension through the 2019 season.
According to TSN CFL Insider Dave Naylor, the new deal will make Wilder Jr. one of the highest paid running backs in the CFL. Naylor says the deal is worth $100,000 per year plus bonuses for awards.
Wilder was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Rookie last season after rushing for 872 yards and five touchdowns on 122 carries, posting a CFL-high 7.1 yards per attempt.
The six-foot-two, 232-pound native of Tampa, Fla., also caught 51 passes for 533 yards and a team-high 467 yards after the catch.
Wilder rushed for 52 yards and added 58 yards on eight receptions in Toronto's 25-12 win over Saskatchewan in the Eastern final, including a crucial third-down catch to move the chains on the team's game-winning touchdown drive. The rookie back added 13 yards and a touchdown in Toronto's 27-24 win over the Calgary Stampeders in the 105th Grey Cup.
"We had free-agent deals to work on and once we got those taken care of we had something there that we could give go," Argos general manager Jim Popp said. "It worked out for everybody.
"James as another dimension to our team, he's a bruising player. He was playing hard on special teams and once he got in there we were both learning from each other. I think he's still learning the game . . . we might not have seen his best yet.
"I think James has a great opportunity to grow in the community that will be very rewarding for him moving forward.
Wilder's extension comes after the rookie running back had expressed frustration that Toronto wouldn't allow him to opt out of the final year of his CFL contract to pursue NFL opportunities. Defensive lineman Victor Butler, who had a team-high 10 sacks for the Grey Cup champions, later lodged a similar complaint, writing the team was "holding (him) hostage."
Popp said he hasn't spoken with Butler since then.
"I've had no discussion with him," Popp said. "The thing is I've had nothing but great conversations with him, the same with James.
"I was shocked when both of these things came up. The thing is he (Butler) has a contract and he's welcome to return and play his contract."