Countdown to CFL free agency: Predicting biggest steal, biggest payday, and more
Farhan Lalji and Matthew Scianitti make some predictions answering several rapid fire questions as the countdown to CFL free agency continues.
Biggest steal in free agency?
Lalji: I think it’s going to be linebacker Solomon Elimimian. It doesn’t look like he’ll be back in Saskatchewan and I think his age (33) is going to bring his salary number down. But he had an exceptional year last year despite some injury and adversity going into it. I believe this year he’ll be able to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact.
Scianitti: Armanti Edwards has great hands, he was a former quarterback so he knows an offence and how to execute well, and he is also a great route runner. I think if a team gives him a shot – a better offence, a better quarterback – he could do a great job.
Lalji: I’d be careful with running back CJ Gable. He finally had his 1,000-yard year last year and when he’s healthy he’s as good as any running back in the league. But there’s an injury history there and at the running back position, when you’re 32-years-old, you’re not going up, you’re going down. So I’d love to bring him in, but only at a reasonable price.
Scianitti: Micah Johnson made $250K last year with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. This is not an indictment on his talent because we know he can be a game-breaker. But you better watch the money because he did have a bit of a down year last year.
Lalji: I love Shaq Evans, and it’s a fairly deep receiving class. He’s going to be 29-years-old this year but he’s right in the sweet spot of his CFL career. He is a legitimate, dynamic, No. 1 receiver. I think he could be a star in 2020.
Scianitti: Frankie Williams is the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player in the CFL. He is a great defensive back but if you want a guy at any moment who could open up a game, Williams returning the ball is your guy.
Best Canadian free agent?
Lalji: We’re talking Canadians so we have to talk offensive linemen, and I think it’s a really thin class of offensive linemen with only 5-6 legitimate starters. I think Sean McEwen, a centre, is at the top of that list. He’s 26-years-old, he’s been a starter for four years, and he’s right in the sweet spot of his career. You could solve a team’s needs in the middle of that offensive line for a number of years going forward.
Scianitti: Cleyon Laing is a game-breaker, he someone who disrupts. The issue with Laing is consistency. I watched some games where he had multiple sacks, but he only had seven sacks last season. If he’s in a good situation, that Canadian could be a real ratio-breaker for a team.
Biggest payday (non quarterbacks)?
Lalji: I think it’s going to be last year’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Willie Jefferson. I don’t expect him back in Winnipeg. I heard he could wind up with Derel Walker’s contract in Toronto, which means somewhere between $280K-$290K for the year. And I don’t think that’s going to set the market either. I don’t think anyone gets close to that.
Scianitti: You mentioned Derel Walker, he did set the market last year for non-quarterbacks, making in the $280K range. I don’t think he gets that money this time but he is still a big-game player, a game-breaker who will get paid.