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Sudden Impact: A team by team look at free agency

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

BC Lions

Johany Jutras/CFL

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.

Additions/Re-Signings:

Player Position Transaction Former Team
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

 

Departures:

Player Position Transaction New Team
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.

Edmonton Eskimos

JC_Sherritt_2013_1

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.

Additions/Re-Signings:

Player Position Transaction Former Team
John White RB Re-signed (2/9/16)
JC Sherritt LB Re-signed (2/11/16)
Natey Adjei REC Signed (2/12/16) TOR

 

Departures:

Player Position Transaction New Team
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.

Calgary Stampeders

Adam Gagnon/CFL

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.

Additions:

Player Position Transaction Former Team
Taylor Reed LB Signed (2/11/16) HAM
Bakari Grant REC Signed (2/11/16) HAM
James Green LB Signed (2/13/16) OTT

 

Departures:

Player Position Transaction New Team
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.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

OttawaRedBlacks.com

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.

Additions/Re-Signings:

Player Position Transaction Former Team
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

 

Departures:

Player Position Transaction New Team
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

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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.

Additions:

Player Position Transaction Former Team
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

 

Departures:

Player Position Transaction New Team
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?

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

FA_Laurent_THUMB2

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.

Additions/Re-Signings:

Player Position Transaction Former Team
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)

 

Departures:

Player Position Transaction New Team
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.

Toronto Argonauts

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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.

Additions/Re-Signings:

Player Position Transaction Former Team
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

 

Departures:

Player Position Transaction New Team
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.

Ottawa REDBLACKS

Trevor_Harris_2015_15

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.

Additions/Re-Signings:

Player Position Transaction Former Team
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)

 

Departures:

Player Position Transaction New Team
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.

Montreal Alouettes

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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.

Additions/Re-Signings:

Player Position Transaction Former Team
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

Player Position Transaction New Team
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.