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CFL commissioner Mark Cohon speaks to media about the state of the CFL. ((John Woods/Canadian Press))

Canadian Football League general managers will have more money at their disposal to sign players when league-wide free agency kicks off on Feb. 15.

CFL commissioner Mark Cohon on Tuesday announced a 3.75 per cent increase in the salary cap for 2008, from $4.05 million to $4.2 million.

"Our league is moving forward, and the increase in the cap reflects our progress," Cohon said from league headquarters in Toronto.

"At the same time, an increase of this size speaks to our teams' responsibility to our players, who make our game great, and our fans, who keep it strong, to live within our means."

A move to raise the salary cap made sense, Cohon added, when considering average league attendance exceeded 29,000 for the first time since 1983 and domestic television ratings continue to be healthy.

"Still, we have to tread carefully and prudently, so we're building on our success, not jeopardizing it," he cautioned.

The CFL's Salary Management System (SMS) was a success in its first full year in 2007, creating parity in both divisions and helping teams work towards a healthier bottom line.

"As with most innovations," Cohon said, "this is a work in progress and there's always room for improvement, but the system is working and it marks a step forward for the CFL."

The SMS is just one of the topics the league's leaders will discuss at the CFL Congress in Calgary from Feb. 25-28.