With CBA set to expire, how are CFL players dealing with the uncertainty?
WINNIPEG — Veteran CFL quarterback Dakota Prukop was competing along with first-year players Wednesday at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie camp.
Prukop's presence was somewhat surprising, given the CFL Players' Association had said it directed veteran quarterbacks on eight CFL teams to skip rookie camps.
The union added there was "the exception of one club, where there is concern by our Association over a pattern of retribution toward players by team management.'' According to a league source, that team was the Edmonton Elks.
Prukop spent time with the Toronto Argonauts (2017-19), Calgary Stampeders (2020-2021) and Edmonton (2021) before signing a one-year deal with Winnipeg.
He said he came to rookie camp with the blessing of the union, Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros and veteran linebacker Adam Bighill, who's also a member of the CFLPA executive.
"What it came down to is everyone's situation was a little different," the 28-year-old Prukop told reporters. "You've got the veterans with solidified jobs or veterans competing against other veterans.
"You've got another group, which is the group I'm in, which is I'm a veteran but I'm competing against rookie-tag guys in a new offence, a new playbook. So with the support of the other veterans around the league, guys had no problem with me coming and competing for my job.
"I reached out to Zac and Adam and just checked with them because the biggest thing is you don't want to create any kind of disruption or friction on the team. From my conversations with them, no one thought that would be the case because while the PA were standing to make a statement, we're also still taking care of the guys."
Prukop said he couldn't afford to stay away and put himself behind the other quarterbacks competing for the backup job behind Collaros, last year's CFL outstanding player.
"I just wasn't in the position to be able to put myself in a competitive disadvantage competing against really great quarterbacks that just have a rookie tag," he said.
The six-foot-one, 208-pound Prukop has appeared in 49 career regular season CFL games. He has completed 36-of-56 passes for 467 yards with four TDs and four interceptions while rushing 38 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
Prukop appeared in eight games last season with Edmonton. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 183 yards with one TD and two interceptions while running for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
Prukop signed with Toronto in 2017 and earned a Grey Cup ring that season. He spent three campaigns with the Argos before signing with Calgary in 2020 before the cancellation of the 2020 season.
Prukop was released by the Stampeders at the end of training camp last year before joining the Elks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2022.