THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — They say you don’t win Grey Cups in free agency, but where there are norms there are also exceptions.
Take this year, for instance: After just the first wave of free agency, every team in the league has been impacted to the point where the 104th Grey Cup, whatever the outcome, will no doubt be influenced by whatever’s happened since Feb. 9 at 12pm ET.
Exactly as advertised, this year’s free agent class is a league-wide game-changer. Every player a team signs or doesn’t sign makes an impact, whether direct or indirect, and this off-season these changes have come in abundance.
In nine and a half months from now late in November, it’s expected we’ll look back on how the Grey Cup Champs made it so far – and free agency will come to mind. With that, we look over every team in the CFL and how each one has been affected by the last few days:
Jump to team:
|BC | Calgary | Edmonton | Saskatchewan | Winnipeg | Hamilton | Toronto | Ottawa | Montreal|
In short: Subtlety best describes the Lions’ approach to free agency, but don’t confuse that with apathy. Wally Buono shored up his defensive secondary, while on offence he filled the void left by Andrew Harris at running back and also added a proven pass-catcher in Nick Moore. The Lions have been busy.
|Mike Edem||DB||Signed (2/9/16)||HAM|
|Brandon Stewart||DB||Signed (2/9/16)||HAM|
|Nick Moore||REC||Signed (2/9/16)||WPG|
|Jeremiah Johnson||RB||Signed (2/10/16)||OTT|
|Levy Adcock||OT||Signed (2/10/16)||SSK|
|Anthony Allen||RB||Signed (2/11/16)||SSK|
|Andrew Harris||RB||Signed (2/9/16)||WPG|
|Pascal Lochard||RB||Signed (2/9/16)||WPG|
|Alex Hoffman-Ellis||LB||Signed (2/10/16)||HAM|
What’s next: The Lions have been cautious so far in free agency, making some solid under the radar moves without going all-in on any big stars. They’re a team to look out for over the next week or so if Buono still has something bigger in mind.
In short: The problem with being the Grey Cup Champs is everyone wants a piece of you, and that has no doubt been the case for the Eskimos, who have lost six players to other teams since Feb. 9. Still, locking up JC Sherritt and John White can be seen as key victories as the Esks look to keep their core intact.
|John White||RB||Re-signed (2/9/16)||–|
|JC Sherritt||LB||Re-signed (2/11/16)||–|
|Natey Adjei||REC||Signed (2/12/16)||TOR|
|Andrew Jones||OT||Signed (2/9/16)||SSK|
|Kenny Stafford||REC||Signed (2/9/16)||MTL|
|Shamawd Chambers||REC||Signed (2/10/16)||SSK|
|Otha Foster||DB||Signed (2/10/16)||SSK|
|Kendial Lawrence||RB/REC||Signed (2/10/16)||SSK|
|Brian Simmons||OL||Signed (2/11/16)||HAM|
What’s next: Ed Hervey has still made it clear he’d like to re-sign Aaron Grymes, but what is certain is the Eskimos won’t overpay anyone just for the sake of making a splash. They can afford to be picky at this stage of the game and if leaning on U.S. scouting and lesser known players is more practical, Hervey will go that route – the same one that brought Edmonton a Grey Cup in 2015.
In short: As promised, John Hufnagel wasn’t busy on the first day of free agency but instead he got value later in the week. Taylor Reed and Bakari Grant likely come at the right price for the Stamps and both offer high upside while in the prime of their football career.
|Taylor Reed||LB||Signed (2/11/16)||HAM|
|Bakari Grant||REC||Signed (2/11/16)||HAM|
|James Green||LB||Signed (2/13/16)||OTT|
|Tevaughn Campbell||DB||Traded (2/11/16)||SSK|
|Jeff Fuller||REC||Signed (2/11/16)||NFL|
|Keon Raymond||SLB||Signed (2/12/16)||TOR|
What’s next: The Stampeders were one of the busiest teams in the league locking up pending free agents before Feb. 9, and as a result they’ve been one of the quieter teams afterwards. GM John Hufnagel’s depth chart is filling out nicely, although an impact veteran could still be on the way –particularly at the receiver position or on the O-line.
In short: Turns out the inkling suspicion that Chris Jones would bring at least a few of his former Eskimos over to Riderville was justified, but the Riders’ GM didn’t stop there. Jones landed one of free agency’s biggest names in Justin Capicciotti among other big names, as his off-season overhaul of Rider Nation continues. How to build a team in a week part I.
|Graig Newman||DB||Signed (2/9/16)||WPG|
|John Chiles||REC||Signed (2/9/16)||NFL|
|Andrew Jones||OL||Signed (2/9/16)||EDM|
|Dylan Ainsworth||DL||Re-signed (2/9/16)||–|
|Greg Jones||LB||Signed (2/10/16)||TOR|
|Curtis Steele||RB||Signed (2/10/16)||TOR|
|Ed Gainey||DB||Signed (2/10/16)||HAM|
|Shamawd Chambers||REC||Signed (2/10/16)||EDM|
|Otha Foster||LB||Signed (2/10/16)||EDM|
|Kendial Lawrence||RB/REC||Signed (2/10/16)||EDM|
|Bruce Campbell||OT||Acquired via trade (2/10/16)||TOR|
|Tevaughn Campbell||DB||Acquired via trade (2/11/16)||CGY|
|Justin Capicciotti||DE||Signed (2/11/16)||OTT|
|Corvey Irvin||DT||Signed (2/12/16)||MTL|
|Ryan Smith||REC||Signed (2/9/16)||WPG|
|Corey Watman||OL||Signed (2/9/16)||TOR|
|Levy Adcock||OL||Signed (2/10/16)||BC|
|Kevin Regimbald||LB||(Signed 2/12/16)||MTL|
What’s next: Chris Jones has been busy filling up holes and bringing in his own guys, and it appears the barrage of free agent signings and trades has subsided for the Green and White. Don’t confuse that for thinking the Riders are done yet however, because with Jones you just never know.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
In short: Kyle Walters and the Bombers redefined ‘going all in’, adding star power in virtually every facet of the game from receiver and running back to defensive tackle and kicker. If you’re looking for a case study on whether free agency can win championships, the 2016 Bombers are the team to watch. How to build a team in a week part II.
|Keith Shologan||DT||Signed (2/9/16)||OTT|
|Jeff Keeping||OL||Signed (2/9/16)||TOR|
|Ryan Smith||REC||Signed (2/9/16)||SSK|
|Andrew Harris||RB||Signed (2/9/16)||BC|
|Justin Medlock||K/P||Signed (2/9/16)||HAM|
|Pascal Lochard||RB||Signed (2/9/16)||BC|
|Euclid Cummings||DL||Signed (2/10/16)||TOR|
|Nick Moore||REC||Signed (2/9/16)||BC|
|Graig Newman||DB||Signed (2/9/16)||SSK|
|Lirim Hajrullahu||K/P||Signed (2/10/16)||TOR|
|Cameron Marshall||RB||Signed (2/11/16)||NFL|
|Demond Washington||DB||Signed (2/11/16)||HAM|
What’s next: Anything major the Bombers do from here on out would be unexpected. Walters stuck to his guns in being aggressive early in free agency and the team you see now looks a lot like the one you’ll see the first week of the regular season. Is it June yet?
In short: Two words – Ted Laurent. If there was one thing the Ticats needed to do in free agency it was bring back their big man in the middle of the defence. The Ticats made another big splash in adding Chad Owens and sprucing up the defence with Alex Hoffman-Ellis, but Laurent is the key to keeping an elite defence on top of its game heading into 2016.
|Ted Laurent||DT||Re-signed (2/10/16)||–|
|Alex Hoffman-Ellis||LB||Signed (2/10/16)||BC|
|Michael Atkinson||DT||Re-signed (2/10/16)||–|
|Brian Simmons||OL||Signed (2/10/16)||EDM|
|Andy Fantuz||REC||Re-signed (2/11/16)||–|
|Demond Washington||DB||Signed (2/11/16)||WPG|
|Chad Owens||REC||Signed (2/12/16)||TOR|
|Giovanni Aprile||REC||Re-signed (2/12/16)||–|
|Frederic Plesius||LB||Re-signed (2/12/16)||–|
|Mike Edem||DB||Signed (2/9/16)||BC|
|Brandon Stewart||DB||Signed (2/9/16)||BC|
|Justin Medlock||K/P||Signed (2/9/16)||WPG|
|Ed Gainey||DB||Signed (2/10/16)||SSK|
|Arnaud Gascon-Nadon||DL||Signed (2/10/16)||OTT|
|Taylor Reed||LB||Signed (2/11/16)||CGY|
|Bakari Grant||REC||Signed (2/11/16)||CGY|
|Brian Bulcke||DL||Signed (2/11/16)||TOR|
What’s next: The Ticats still need a kicker/punter and also face some questions on the O-line as Jake Olson, Joel Figueroa and Mark Dile remain free agents. Still, it looks like minor adjustments from here on out for Kent Austin’s team, although look for the team to try and lock up some of its current free agents such as Emanuel Davis.
In short: O-line, O-line, O-line. Jim Barker set the Argos up to start an all-Canadian O-line, shipping Bruce Campbell to Regina and signing Josh Bourke and Corey Watman. With five nationals starting up front and the addition of Brian Bulcke on the defensive line, the Boatmen are very deep with national talent on both sides of the ball.
|Josh Bourke||OT||Signed (2/9/16)||MTL|
|Corey Watman||OL||Signed (2/9/16)||SSK|
|Cory Greenwood||LB||Re-signed (2/9/16)||–|
|Lirim Hajrullahu||K/P||Signed (2/10/16)||WPG|
|Brandon Whitaker||RB||Signed (2/10/16)||–|
|Brian Bulcke||DL||Signed (2/11/16)||HAM|
|Keon Raymond||DB||Signed (2/12/16)||CGY|
|Trevor Harris||QB||Signed (2/9/16)||OTT|
|Brendan Gillanders||RB||Signed (2/9/16)||OTT|
|Jeff Keeping||OL||Signed (2/9/16)||WPG|
|Greg Jones||LB||Signed (2/10/16)||SSK|
|Curtis Steele||RB||Signed (2/10/16)||SSK|
|Euclid Cummings||DT||Signed (2/10/16)||WPG|
|Bruce Campbell||OT||Traded (2/10/16)||SSK|
|Swayze Waters||K/P||Signed (2/11/16)||NFL|
|Chad Owens||REC||Signed (2/11/16)||HAM|
|Natey Adjei||REC||Signed (2/12/16)||EDM|
What’s next: After signing Keon Raymond on Friday, it’s unlikely the Argos have another big move up their sleeve. They’ve addressed virtually every need through free agency and while they could look to re-sign some of their own free agents, don’t expect anything major from Jim Barker.
In short: The REDBLACKS got their quarterback of the future. That was the number one priority for Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins going into free agency, and with the first-day signing of Trevor Harris the REDBLACKS are set for life after Henry Burris.
|Trevor Harris||QB||Signed (2/9/16)||TOR|
|Brendan Gillanders||RB||Signed (2/9/16)||TOR|
|Arnaud Gascon-Nadon||DL||Signed (2/10/16)||HAM|
|Andrew Marshall||DL||Re-signed (2/11/16)||–|
|Keith Shologan||DT||Signed (2/9/16)||WPG|
|Jeremiah Johnson||RB||Signed (2/10/16)||BC|
|Jovon Johnson||CB||Signed (2/11/16)||MTL|
|Justin Capicciotti||DE||Signed (2/11/16)||SSK|
|James Green||LB||Signed (2/13/16)||CGY|
What’s next: The REDBLACKS made their big-ticket move with the addition of Harris, and with that they’re pretty well set for this off-season. They may still try to re-sign Brandyn Thompson or get other help for their defensive backfield, which also lost starting corner Jovon Johnson.
In short: Somewhat surprisingly the Als were one of the busiest teams in free agency, coming out of nowhere to land Kenny Stafford while also making waves on the defensive side of the ball. Montreal now boasts arguably the best three-headed monster in the league at receiver, while on defence the Als made big changes to their D-line and secondary with Vaughn Martin and Jovon Johnson.
|Kenny Stafford||REC||Signed (2/9/16)||EDM|
|Winston Venable||LB||Re-signed (2/9/16)||–|
|Sam Giguere||REC||Re-signed (2/9/16)||–|
|Jovon Johnson||CB||Signed (2/10/16)||OTT|
|Dominque Ellis||DB||Re-signed (2/10/16)||–|
|Vaughn Martin||DT||Signed (2/10/16)||NFL|
Departures: Josh Bourke
|Josh Bourke||OT||Signed (2/9/16)||TOR|
|Corvey Irvin||DT||Signed (2/12/16)||SSK|
What’s next: With the addition of Martin, there’s some speculation that the Als could look to trade Henoc Muamba. Keep an eye out for that in the coming days as Jim Popp continues re-tooling his veteran defence heading into the 2016 season.