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Monday, February 19, 2018

OUT OF THE TUNNEL: FREE AGENCY WINNERS AND LOSERS


By: RodPedersen.com Staff

Let’s run Out of the Tunnel and take a look at a busy week in the CFL. The free agency period began in earnest on Tuesday with a mass of signings, and by the weekend, it slowed to a trickle.

Right now, CFL teams are re-setting and forecasting their 2018 salary cap to see what more they can do before they begin bringing in non-CFL Americans from various free agent camps and the CFL draft in May.

There are still some needs for each team. Time and money will tell whether they will fill holes with an existing CFL free agent or rely on their scouting staff to complete their roster.

There were some great stories from all nine teams.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

Top Signee(s): Canadians everywhere

Still Need: Interior defence (LB/DT)

Under the Radar: Signing Johnny Augustine and Adam Laurensse. Two all-conference Canadians that will have a shot at seeing the main roster in 2018.

After two years of making big splash American free agent signings, head coach, G.M. and V.P. of Football Operations Chris Jones may have had his smartest first week of free agency. He had to make up for over five years of poor drafting (not all on Jones & Co.) by picking up Zach Evans, Jake Harty, Sam Hurl and Jerome Messam.

Some tough decisions had to be made to make room for pricy Canadians with the release of last year’s gem of the free agency crop, Derek Dennis and their leading tackler from 2017 Henoc Muamba.

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Edmonton Eskimos

Top Signee: Re-signing Canadian LB, Adam Konar

Still Need: Defensive back

Under the radar: Eskimos football operations taking a chance on enigmatic receiver/kick returner Speedy Noil.

The Eskimos' biggest need was re-signing many of their own players and other than Euclid Cummings, Cory Watson and Joel Figueroa all signing with B.C., they did so. Edmonton didn’t really take a deep dive into free agency (other than Alex Bazzie and Juron Criner) choosing instead to ink a pile of non-CFL free agents.

Calgary Stampeders

Top Signee: Bringing Derek Dennis back

Still Need: WR and RB

Under the radar: The retirement of all-star Canadian offensive tackle Dan Federkeil.

Calgary was mostly quiet this week with the exception of the splash later in the week by bringing back offensive lineman Derek Dennis. He had an interesting 2017 in Saskatchewan. With the lack of Canadian depth on the offensive line, (the 2016 CFL Lineman of the Year was a left tackle with the Stampeders) Dennis had to play guard. He was then released earlier this week by the Riders to free up salary and was immediately brought back to the fold in Calgary. With Dan Federkeil retiring, Dennis will bring a veteran presence to the offensive line.

It looks like Calgary will pound the pavement and rely on their scouting staff to fill out the roster at running back and receiver.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Top Signee: Defensive end Craig Roh

Still Need: A Canadian on defence

Under the Radar: Signing Canadian running back Kienan LaFrance as a backup to all-star Andrew Harris.

The Blue Bombers are stacking up their lineup with veteran CFLers across the board, but much of their work was done before free agency began. This looks like an organization that is happy with their current lineup. There is still a question of Canadian depth. With the loss of Canadian defenders Jamaal Westerman and Sam Hurl, that is two Canadian starters on defence out of the fold. There will be a need to find a way to fill one of the two spots, or re-jig their seven Canadian starters.

B.C. Lions

Top Signee: Offensive lineman Joel Figueroa

Still Need: Linebacker

Under the radar: Re-signing quarterback Travis Lulay.

After missing the playoffs in 2017, Wally Buono and Ed Hervey have been busy overhauling the roster and coaching staff over the last couple of months. The overhaul continued during the first week of free agency, as the Lions were the busiest team bringing in ten more players. It looks like they are not quite done on the free agency front.

Montreal Alouettes

Top Signee: Canadian defensive end, Jamaal Westerman

Still Need: Help everywhere on offence

Under the radar – Revamped their secondary.

They could have been the most interesting story in the CFL. With a glut of vets under contract over 30-years-old, many expected the release of more than just Kyries Hebert. This team needs help, a lot of help. The offence needs it the most: there are six quarterbacks on the roster with Drew Willy as the lone veteran, the receivers are in need of Canadian help, and running backs Stefan Logan and Tyrell Sutton are over 30-years-old. This will be a long rebuilding process.

Ottawa Redblacks

Top signee: Linebacker Rico Murray

Still Need: Defensive line

Under the Radar – Signing Julian Feoli-Gudino prior to losing Jake Harty to the Riders.

The Redblacks had one of the biggest potential free agent lists in the CFL. Marcel Desjardins did an incredible job re-signing many of their top pending FA’s and also dipped into the pool by inking a pair of veteran defenders Rico Murray and Kyries Hebert. This was a very young team that needed some veteran presence to get them back into the Grey Cup race in 2018.

Toronto Argonauts

Top Signee – Swayze Waters

Still Need: Linebacker

Under the radar: Signing receiver Jordan Westerkamp. He was an outstanding pass catcher at Nebraska and will be a great fit at slot under Marc Trestman.

The Argos did a lot of their work prior to the free agency period by picking up James Franklin and re-signing several key players. It looks like Jim Popp will fill out the roster with the draft, free agent camps and NFL cuts.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Top signee: Re-signing defensive tackle Ted Laurent

Still Need: America offensive lineman

Under the Radar: Signing a former Canadian Olympic sprinter Akeem Haynes, following a long line of track stars-turned football players.

Kent Austin and company had the smallest class of potential free agents, and he re-signed the bulk of them. Getting Ted Laurent, Luke Tasker and Larry Dean back into the fold this week was huge.

The moves will continue, but when you look at the CFL transaction page (when it’s back up and running), many of the moves will be  signing recent NFL cuts and players from free agent camps. There are still a few solid free agents available, but that news will be few and far between.

Keep an eye on the wire, and see you next week!

(RodPedersen.com Staff)

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comment about 5 years of poor drafting by the Riders. To be truthful, it's been a flop.

Flip

Dex said...

MTL looks like they are a mess, but the Argos didn't have a coach or GM at the draft last year and they looked ok. QB Josh Freeman could be interesting.

What is Cameron Judge's status right now? He is still listed on the website.

Just saying said...

Wow I agree with kavis Reed! He did the right thing in releasing Kyries Herbert. And Ottawa needed him to fill a void. Win win

Anonymous said...

Up to the Evans signing, Jones did great. Then he blew it. Knox gone, Foster gone, dumps Muamba - no LB's. Fans already making excuses but dumb move. Muamba was great last year & interest in league shows that. As for his drafts, not one pick is a starter YET, so no he hasn't done a good job. If Jones isn't starting them himself, you can't say it's been great. Wasn't St. John supposed to be the starting LT by last year? Go back & read your comments. Big holes @ LB, ???? @ QB, OL, DB. Signing Messam, an area all the fans keep saying we're loaded in & dumping Muanba was a bonehead move he'll regret. Bond is good but not Dennis. Dennis, like Lemon, Capicciotti will work out fine out of Jones' "system" which seems very inflexible if stars like Dennis & Lemon can't adapt. In a matter of a couple of days, Jones looked like a GC contender then post Evans looks like a 4th place team.

Daniel Towne said...

Ed Hervey is the GM in BC not Wally.

Anonymous said...

The Bombers big signing was by FAR Chandler Fenner one of the top defensive players available. It was not Crigh Roh who won't even be a starter for them. Messam will undoubtedly be the starter on Day 1 of the season

Anonymous said...

The most questionable move in the past week was releasing Henoc Muamba you just don't let a non-import all-star walk and that's on Jones.

Anonymous said...

Look forward to seeing Edmonton's Speedy Noil. Can miss with a name like that!

Anonymous said...

Rider door is still open for Henoc Muamba, Bruce Campbell with the release of Bagg and other. Make it happen

Anonymous said...

Swayze, Swayze Waters, King of the CFL.

Anonymous said...

Curling... Saskatchewan's national sport, curling invented in Saskatchewan by "bum"kin hicks. How in the heck did it get into the Winter Olympics? It's not a sport. And how did a curling rock get caught for a doping infraction? Just laughable, so funny. They have doping cheats in curling, lol.

Anonymous said...

No mention of Demski. Not worth mentioning?
LF

Anonymous said...

Muamba was released the day before he was due a $35,000 bonus. Sorry but highly unlikely that he is coming back. Also, Riders don't have enough cap space to pay him. It will be a year of a major let down at MLB. Probably the same at left tackle because Bond is not considered to be mobile enough to play left tackle.

Just saying said...

Agree Henoc and Campbell are available if we release guys such as Chad Owens. Just a thought

Anonymous said...

Oh why oh why oh why? Why oh why? sigh... why are they even trying? (other 8 CFL teams). The Roughriders of Saskatchewan are going 18 - 0 win/loss record 2018 on their way to the CFL Grey Cup Championship. Sigh... get used to the Jones, Murphy team dynasties set to explode into the scene for as long they want to remain. Whoop Rahhhh!

Anonymous said...

I am a Rider fan but, LOL, 18-0, That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard. This must be a post from another west division team

Anonymous said...

Dynasty? What's a dynasty in Saskatchewan? One in a row!!!! You do know Jones has finished 4th & 5th, right? You do know that Popp took a 5 win team, like the Riders, to the Cup in one year & has a YOUNG team. The Geezers at RB, DE, CB are going to have a hard time keeping up. Bond isn't mobile enough to play LT so I would be surprised if Jones gives up on Campbell. Get used to 4th place. The good news is there are probably 2 worse teams in the East. It's February, RiderNation is in full swing with Grey Cup talk. Nothing unusual. Nothing to see here, folks. The delusionals are out in full force.

Anonymous said...

Re: LB, we spent our $$ on a fearsome front 4, that is more important than LB's which are cheap and plentiful. In fact, CFL teams really only play 2 true LBs and the 3rd one is a converted DB. Muamba is a good player but he was NOT an all-star last year and he is not worth $220,000

As for curling not being a sport, tell that to John Morris or Kaitlyn Lawes or better yet, Ben Hebert, to their face. Of course, that would require you leaving your Mom's basement. First off, try sliding without falling on your ass. Then figure out how hard and accurately to release the rock. Third and best of all, try keeping up sweeping for a single end with any one of our Olympic curlers. You'll be sucking wind by the 3rd rock.

Anonymous said...

Re: LB. No Muamba wasn't an All Star but he was a starter & still would be. So all those neophytes who have a chance to replace him come off special teams. Since most RB's (all except Messam) averaged over 5-6 yds/ carry that means LB's (surprise) have a lot to do with stopping the run), something you weren't good at even with Knox & Muamba in the lineup. Ask the Esks what happens when you have to play special teamers @ LB due to injuries. People run all over you. That's OK - you are entitled to your delusions.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile back in Russia sad

Anonymous said...

Must read,

Huffington Post - Why would anyone dope in curling?

Ha ha ha hilarious!

Go Roughriders!

Anonymous said...

Oh no !!!! BC Lions just won the Grey Cup 2018 as they just inked Grey Cup QB Champ FAJARDO. That's Cody FAJARDO, he of Grey Cup winning points drive for the Argonauts 2017.

Anonymous said...

The Riders also paid Muamba $35K towards his 2018 season. So your point is useless. That’s $35K wasted at this point in time.
The difference when discussing contracts between the players take on it and the uninformed like you. The players understand its part of their 2018 seasons pay. If your not going to be part of the plans then why get paid. Players understand it.
We don’t just find out the day we are released that it’s over with said team. Agents and GMs are in discussions for weeks leading up to the final decision. Both the team and the Agent are hoping for a resolution. Right up to the 11th hour.
So please people stop with the idiotic thinking.

C.G.