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Monday, March 18, 2019

OUT OF THE TUNNEL: THE CFL'S TOP 25 REMAINING FREE AGENTS

Graphic: Taylor Currie
BY: RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF

The CFL free agent season is now over a month old and most of the high-end names have already found new homes or are staying, and don’t have to change their address.

There are still some good names that can compete for a starting spot, fill a role, or be a mid-season injury replacement.

Most of the players remaining have some questions surrounding them whether it’s age, injury or mileage on their body. Before we get to our Top 25, just note we didn't include players who didn’t play in the CFL last season (DB - Elie Bouka; DE – Victor Butler) or released to pursue NFL opportunities (WR - Chris Matthews).

Two players are also not on the list as Dylan Wynn signed with the Arizona Hotshots and Ciante Evans is with the Salt Lake City Stallions of the AAF.

1.     Chris Ackie – Linebacker

This would be the best catch of the rest of the remaining free agents. At 27 years old, his age is perfect as he is maturing into a solid CFL starter. The former Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawk was having an all-star season with the Alouettes when the Redblacks acquired him for a 2019 second round draft pick.

2.     Otha Foster – Linebacker

Foster picked up his first divisional all-star honour in 2018. He is physical, in great shape, and solid in the locker room. At 30 years old he hasn’t hit his wall and would be a great veteran addition.

3.     Jesse Joseph - Defensive end

A solid Canadian defensive end who continues to improve year-after-year since entering the league in 2015. The 30 year old would be great in a Canadian rotation of ends that would be able to get to the quarterback (four sacks).

4.     Jeff Knox Jr. – Linebacker

2015 seems like forever ago for the former CFL West Divison All-Star. Since that incredible season the 27 year old has tried multiple times to make an NFL roster before ultimately returning to the CFL. Jeff would best-be suited to sign with a team before training camp and be a regular CFL contributor in 2019.


5.     Cody Husband - Centre

There is always a need for Canadian offensive linemen and Husband is probably the best of the remaining free agent linemen. Husband will turn 31 on Tuesday but is coming off a Week 10 broken leg in 2018. He can play both centre and guard.

6.     Marcus Ball – Linebacker

The two-time East Division All-Star turns 31 during the season but still has a lot left in the tank. He battled injuries in 2018, only playing in 10 games, after being placed on the six-game list in Week 10.

7.     Anthony Thompson – Defensive back

His passport and position mean Thompson would be a nice pickup for any club. He can play multiple positions in the defensive backfield, contribute on special teams, and best of all, he doesn’t get hurt. Thompson has played in all 54 games since beginning his CFL career in 2016.

8.     Tristan Okpalaugo – Defensive end

Okpalaugo has been a solid defensive end collecting 34 sacks in his four CFL seasons. He had a bit of a different assignment in Richie Hall’s defence and that reflected in his 11 sacks the past two years compared to his 23 in his first two seasons in Toronto.

9.     Jon Gott – Offensive lineman

Gott can be a solid contributor to the interior of any CFL offensive line. The 33-year old is entering his 11th CFL season.

10.  Jovan Olafioye – Tackle

Olafioye is the best American offensive tackle remaining in the free agent pool. He’s only 31 but has a ton of mileage and injuries are starting to pile up. He would create a good training camp battle at tackle.

11.  Emmanuel Davis – Defensive back

Davis will be 31 halfway through the 2019 season, but age doesn’t seem to affect many CFL DB’s. He had a solid 2018 with four interceptions.

12.  Mic’hael Brooks – Defensive tackle

The Riders were better up front with this massive tackle in the lineup. Brooks has always battled injuries throughout his CFL career. He is still young at only 27 when training camp begins.

13.  Terrence Tolliver – Receiver

The best of the remaining receiver group. Injuries are piling up but when healthy, the 6’5” pass catcher would be a solid offensive asset.

14.  George Johnson – Receiver

15.  Devon Bailey – Receiver

You can put both of these Canadian receivers in the same category. Johnson and Bailey are tall, lanky and young and still have a bunch of potential. The question is if a team can find it.

16.  T.J. Heath – Defensive back

17.  Ronnie Yell – Defensive back

18.  Dominique Ellis – Defensive back 

Yell (28 when training camp begins) is a little younger than Heath (31) and Ellis (29) but Heath had a great 2018 playing in all 18 games with 70 tackles and three interceptions. Yell is a slightly different player but also played in all 18 games with a pair of interceptions in 2018. Ellis was solid in 2018 for the Alouettes with 69 tackles and a pair of interceptions.

19.  Lirim Hajrullahu – Kicker/Punter

He is trying to find a NFL job but if he doesn’t, the dual role Canadian kicker should find a home in the CFL.

20.  Arnaud Gascon-Nadon – Defensive lineman

He was a solid rotational Canadian defensive lineman for many years but he took a step back with the Eskimos in 2018.

21.  Weston Dressler – Receiver

When healthy, Dressler can still be a great contributor to any CFL offence, but he will be 34-years-old in July. The Bombers announced late last week that they are "moving on" from Weston.

22.  Justin Sorenson – Offensive lineman

Age and miles are piling up but if signed, Sorenson would be a great back-up.

23.  Trent Corney – Defensive lineman

Corney missed most of 2018 because of injury, but at just 25-years-old, this former first rounder would be a great rotation addition.

24.  Josiah St. John – Offensive lineman

The former first overall pick of the Roughriders never fulfilled the promise that the pick deserves. He was very stiff when he entered the CFL and slowly improved over his three seasons with the Riders.

25.  Gabe Knapton – Defensive line

Solid interior defensive lineman and run-stuffer. The miles are starting to add up on the soon to be 30.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Kevin Glenn, Ricky Ray, Chip Cox, Kyries Hebert, Marquay McDaniel, Chris Williams, Rob Bagg, Eddie Steele, Bakari Grant, Martese Jackson.

(RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF)


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