CFL Pass

Winners and losers early in free agency period

While I was enjoying a trip to New York/New Jersey to catch a couple hockey games including Martin Brodeur’s jersey retirement, CFL free agency officially opened. Many signings and one Twitter battle later, CFL rosters for 2016 are starting to take shape. Today, a look at the CFL’s winners and losers in the early going of the free-agency period…

Losers
Edmonton Eskimos
Ouch. Not only has Edmonton lost their head coach they’ve now lost stand-out players like Otha Foster, Andrew Jones, Kendial Lawrence, Kenny Stafford and Willie Jefferson to a combination of the Saskachewan Roughriders and the NFL. JC Sherritt, Almondo Sewell and Adarius Bowman are staying put but they won’t be enough to help Edmonton repeat as champions.

Calgary Stampeders
Calgary has been hailed for their incredible depth over the past few seasons but the Stamps will have to dig even deeper in 2016. Eric Rogers, Juwan Simpson, Keon Raymond, Jon Cornish and Freddie Bishop III are no longer with the team. While they’re good players, the signings of Bakari Grant and Taylor Reed can’t balance out the loss of talent. Add all this to the fact that Jeff Fuller could be heading to Seattle.

Montreal Alouettes
Can Duron Carter play quarterback, receiver and offensive line? No? Okay. Put Montreal in the “loser” column.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Ted Laurent is staying. That’s huge news but Hamilton’s defensive depth is about to take a hit. Brandon Stewart, Taylor Reed, Ed Gainey, Erik Harris, Mike Edem, Brian Bulcke, and Arnaud Gascon-Nadon are *all* gone. It goes without saying that Zach Collaros needs to stay healthy for the Tabbies. It will be fun to see how Kent Austin utilizes Chad Owens.

Ottawa RedBlacks
Chris Williams, Damaso Munoz and Zack Evans have extended but that defensive line has taken a huge hit. Keith Shologan is off to Winnipeg and Justin Capicciotti are gone to prairies and Jovon Johnson is heading to Montreal. Trevor Harris has signed in Ottawa but I see him going from playing second fiddle to a Hall of Fame quarterback to playing second fiddle to *another* future Hall of Famer in Henry Burris.

Winners
Toronto Argonauts
Toronto did lose some talent with Trevor Harris, Chad Owens, Greg Jones and Jeff Keeping all leaving but they’ve locked up a nice Canadian core. Ricky Foley, Jermaine Gabriel and Cory Greenwood are all staying put while all-star offensive linemen Josh Bourke and long-time Stampeder Keon Raymond joins the Double Blue. Ricky Ray will need to show his old self again but a solid group of Canadians and young receivers bode well for the Argos.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Wow. Keith Shologan, Jeff Keeping, Justin Medlock, Weston Dressler, Macho Harris, Ryan Smith and Andrew Harris are all Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Could Saskatchewan’s Labour Day winning streak be in danger?

Saskatchewan Roughriders
Not so fast. Kendial Lawrence, Justin Capicciotti, Greg Jones, Curtis Steele, John Chiles, Ed Gainey, Shamawd Chambers, Otha Foster, and Andrew Jones have all joined Rider Nation. Chris Jones has acquired a ton of talent already and looks to make Saskatchewan a West Division contender in just one off-season. On paper, he already has.

BC Lions
The Lions have lost some talent but the emergence of Jonathan Jennings late last season tells me they just might go in a different direction on offense anyway with an open competition at running back looming. Emmanuel Arceneaux, Chris Rainey, Jovan Olafioye, Travis Lulay, and Eric Fraser are all staying put. Don’t underestimate the power of Wally Buono either.

Free agency is just three days old but the signings have been fast and furious. There are still a lot of big names available (Aaron Grymes, Chris Getzlaf, Justin Hickman, and Emanuel Davis) so expect the fun to continue for at least the next week.

– written by Travis Currah