February 23, 2017

Fantuz, Bell still available among CFL.ca’s top 30 FA

Dave Chidley/CFL.ca

TORONTO — Some of the top talent is off the board but, a week into free agency, there’s still plenty of help to he had.

All nine CFL teams have been busy trying to add some of the league’s top talent. Abdul Kanneh, Kenny Shaw and Derek Dennis are already off the board while the rumours continue to fly in.

Still, there’s plenty to keep an eye on as free agency progresses. Below is a list of the CFL.ca top 30 free agents that haven’t yet been linked to a team:

TOP 10 REMAINING FREE AGENTS

Rank Name (POS) Previous
Rank
Previous
Team
New
Team
1 Ernest Jackson (REC) 1 Ottawa Montreal
2 Chris Williams (REC) 11 Ottawa BC
3 Shakir Bell (RB) 18 Edmonton
4 Winston Venable (LB) 19 Montreal Toronto
5 Greg Van Roten (OT) 20 Toronto
6 Tori Gurley (REC) 23 Winnipeg
7 John Ojo (DB) 24 Edmonton
8 Andy Fantuz (REC) 26 Hamilton
9 Cory Greenwood (LB) 27 Toronto
10 Terrell Sinkfield (REC) 28 BC

 

Clearly, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

For the original list of the top 30 free agents, please see below:

Note: Players listed are only those whose contract will expire on Feb. 14.

*Indicates national status.

Jump: 30-21 | 20-11 | 101

30
DRAKE NEVIS
DL | HAM

(Edit: Signed by WPG on Feb. 14)

THE CANADIAN PRESS

THE CANADIAN PRESS

THE LOW DOWN

Drake Nevis teamed up with Ted Laurent to form one of the league’s most dominant inside pairings in 2016. The 27-year-old checks in at a hefty 6-foot-1, 301 pounds and still has plenty of room to grow as a Canadian Football League defender.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 30
TEAM – 4
POS — 5
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 14
TKL – 29
SACKS – 5

29
QUINCY McDUFFIE
REC | WPG

(Edit: Released by WPG on Jan. 31)

Matt Smith/CFL.ca

Photo: Matt Smith/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

It’s fitting that one of the CFL’s true X-factors just about rounds out the top 30 list. Quincy McDuffie is electric but just hasn’t gotten a full-time opportunity throughout his three Canadian Football League seasons. The 26-year-old averaged 27.7 yards on kick returns and could also contribute as a receiver.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 29
TEAM – 3
POS — 12
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 13
REC YDS – 241
KR AVG – 27.7

28
TERRELL SINKFIELD
REC | BC

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

Terrell Sinkfield joined the Lions later in the year and provided the offence something it badly needed: breakneck speed. He might be the CFL’s fastest player right now and could be a total game-changer for an offence out there. So many talented receivers in this year’s free agent crop but none can match Sinkfield’s explosiveness.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 28
TEAM – 3
POS — 11
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 7
REC YDS – 297
TD – 3

27
CORY GREENWOOD*
LB | TOR

Matt Smith/CFL.ca

Photo: Matt Smith/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

We’ve all heard it before: Cory Greenwood might be the best Canadian linebacker in the league . . . when healthy. That’s gonna be the caveat when injuries have sidelined you for 16 games over the last two seasons. Still, Greenwood can ball; his 5.15 tackles per game over the last two years are proof. He’s a ratio-breaker.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 27
TEAM – 4
POS — 3
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 12
TKL – 70
SACKS – 2

26
ANDY FANTUZ*
REC | HAM

Dario Ayala/CFL.ca

Photo: Dario Ayala/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

At age 33, Andy Fantuz became the first Ticats receiver to break the 100 receptions mark — then he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Fantuz has been an invaluable piece in Kent Austin’s offence since arriving in 2012. Can he work back from his injury and pick up where he left off?

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 26
TEAM – 3
POS — 10
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 17
REC YDS – 1,059
REC – 101

25
BRANDYN THOMPSON
DB | EDM

(Edit: Extended by EDM on Jan. 30)

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

Brandyn Thompson arrived late on the scene and helped stabilize an Eskimos secondary that struggled early in 2016. He’s a solid veteran presence and should hold plenty of value as the fifth-ranked defensive back on the board according to CFL.ca.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 25
TEAM – 3
POS — 5
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 8
TKL – 22
INT – 1

24
JOHN OJO
DB | EDM

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

Don’t sleep on John Ojo, who was quickly emerging as one of the CFL’s top corners before a devastating Achilles injury in training camp this year. Some players never do bounce back from that injury but Ojo, 26, can look to Solomon Elimimian and John White for recent success stories.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 24
TEAM – 2
POS — 4
2016 BY THE #’S
DNP

23
TORI GURLEY
REC | WPG

The Canadian Press

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

Is Tori Gurley an elite CFL receiver? It sure looked that way before his surprise release by the Argos last October. He’ll be an intriguing option for any team looking to add size and physicality at the position.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 23
TEAM – 2
POS — 9
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 12
REC – 40
REC YDS – 571

22
MARQUAY McDANIEL
REC | CGY

(Edit: Extended by CGY on Feb. 14)

The Canadian Press

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

With five straight seasons of 700 receiving yards or more, no pass-catcher has been more reliable the last decade than Marquay McDaniel. He truly is Mr. Consistent but his age, 32, could stop him from fetching top dollar on the market.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 22
TEAM – 4
POS — 8
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 16
REC – 83
REC YDS – 1,074

21
JERRELL GAVINS
DB | OTT

(Edit: Extended by OTT on Feb. 13)

The Canadian Press

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

Jerrell Gavins notched four interceptions as a sophomore last year, then spent time as a SAM linebacker this season in Defensive Coordinator Mark Nelson’s system. Gavins is an athlete and has the versatility to help any defence where needed.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 21
TEAM – 7
POS — 3
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 13
TKL – 32
FF – 1

20
GREG VAN ROTEN
OL | TOR

Argonauts.ca

Photo: Argonauts.ca

THE LOW DOWN

Named the Argos’ Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in his first two seasons in the league, Greg Van Roten defines versatility. The 26-year-old started games at centre, guard and tackle for the Boatmen this season and, despite his American passport, should be a free agent target.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 20
TEAM – 3
POS — 4
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 15
STARTS – 15

19
WINSTON VENABLE
LB | MTL

(Edit: Signed by TOR on Feb. 15)

The Canadian Press

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

Winston Venable is a tackle machine, heading into 2017 with 191 takedowns the last two seasons. He’s also got 12 sacks over that span, playing a pivotal role in the Alouettes’ playmaking defence.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 19
TEAM – 2
POS — 2
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 18
TKL – 88
SACKS – 7

18
SHAKIR BELL
RB | EDM

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

The only running back in the top 30, Shakir Bell has flashed elite ability throughout his two seasons in the league. He won’t get to play behind John White in Edmonton but after averaging 100-plus yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry in 2016, look for the 24-year-old to earn a starting role in 2017.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 18
TEAM – 1
POS — 1
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 4
RUSH YDS – 425
YPC – 6.3

17
GABRIEL KNAPTON
DL | MTL

(Edit: Extended by MTL on Feb. 10)

Peter McCabe/CFL.ca

Photo: Peter McCabe/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

A fierce competitor, Gabriel Knapton has recorded nine or more sacks in each of his three CFL seasons. He has 29 quarterback takedowns over that span and should be in for a major payday.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 17
TEAM – 1
POS — 4
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 18
TKL – 49
SACKS – 9

16
KHALIL BASS
LB | WPG

(Edit: Signed with OTT on Feb. 14)

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

No defence took the ball away more than Winnipeg’s this year and as expected, Khalil Bass played a major role. Bass recorded four sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and a touchdown in 17 games, not to mention 82 defensive tackles. He’s the number one linebacker in free agency.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 16
TEAM – 1
POS — 1
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 17
TKL – 82
FF – 4

15
CLEYON LAING*
DL | OTT

(Edit: Released by OTT on Dec. 15)

Geoff Robins/CFL.ca

Photo: Geoff Robins/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

Cleyon Laing’s ranking could be lower based on his production late last season or higher based on his potential. The 26-year-old is a dominant interior lineman in the prime of his career but he’ll have to prove it before we start putting him in the same category as Ted Laurent.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 15
TEAM – 6
POS — 3
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 1
TKL – 0
SACKS – 0

14
KENNY SHAW
REC | TOR

(Edit: Signed by OTT on Feb. 14)

Adam Gagnon/CFL.ca

Photo: Adam Gagnon/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

The Argos liked Kenny Shaw for his potential and in 2016, he finally saw it through. It was a bad season for the Boatmen but Shaw was an exception, breaking the 1,000-yard plateau and asserting himself as a highly-talented receiver in the prime of his career. He should be a top target for the Argos and many other teams as well.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 14
TEAM – 2
POS — 7
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 17
REC – 77
REC YDS – 1,004

13
TERRENCE TOLIVER
REC | HAM

(Edit: Extended by HAM on Feb. 13)

Patrick Doyle/CFL.ca

Photo: Patrick Doyle/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

If the NFL doesn’t come calling, Terrence Toliver should be hearing from nine CFL teams come February. The 28-year-old needed only 13 games to break 1,000 receiving yards last season and he’s got the frame and physicality to simply torment opposing secondaries.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 13
TEAM – 2
POS — 6
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 13
REC YDS – 1,036
TD – 9

12
MICAH JOHNSON

(Edit: Extended by CGY on Feb. 14)
DL | CGY

Matt Smith/CFL.ca

Photo: Matt Smith/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

Micah Johnson’s run as one of the CFL’s most underrated defenders finally ended this season. Yes, the word is out on the Stamps’ defensive tackle after the 28-year-old racked up seven sacks en route to an All-Star nod. Johnson has 16 sacks in his last 34 games, impressive for an inside lineman.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 12
TEAM – 3
POS — 2
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 18
FF – 2
SACKS – 7

11
CHRIS WILLIAMS
REC | OTT

(Edit: Signed by BC on Feb. 18)

The Canadian Press

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

Chris Williams might have been at the top of this list if not for a late season-ending injury. Instead of talking about his 10 touchdowns and 1,246 receiving yards in 14 games, now teams will be asking about the health of his knee and when he’ll be ready to play again. Major boom or bust potential here.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 11
TEAM – 5
POS — 5
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 14
REC YDS – 1,246
TD – 10

10
DIONTAE SPENCER
REC | TOR

(Edit: Signed by OTT on Feb. 15)

The Canadian Press

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

At age 24, Diontae Spencer is hitting the market at exactly the right time. He’s diminutive but electric, proving last year he’s pretty durable too after averaging nearly six catches per game. Don’t let the size fool you; Spencer has the outlook of an elite receiver.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 10
TEAM – 1
POS — 4
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 12
REC – 71
REC YDS – 706

9
EMANUEL DAVIS
DB | HAM

(Edit: Re-signed by HAM on Feb. 15)

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

As receivers put up earth-shattering numbers across the CFL, defensive backs that can cover only increase in value. Emanuel Davis was one of the best in 2016 from his halfback position and should be highly coveted come February.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 9
TEAM – 1
POS — 2
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 17
TKL – 55
INT – 5

8
MIC’HAEL BROOKS
DL | BC

(Edit: Re-signed by BC on Feb. 14)

Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca

Photo: Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

Don’t let the numbers distract you; Mic’hael Brooks is a monster on the interior defensive line. The Lions’ D-line was among the best in the league last year both at generating pressure and closing the gaps and Brooks was just one reason why.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 8
TEAM – 2
POS — 1
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 13
TKL – 18
SACKS – 1

7
NOLAN MacMILLAN*
OL | OTT

(Edit: Extended by OTT on Feb. 14)

Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography

Photo: Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography

THE LOW DOWN

Canadian offensive linemen are always at a premium but this year’s crop is particularly thin at the position. Nolan MacMillan missed some time in 2016 due to injury but the towering 6-foot-6 lineman has played an integral role in Ottawa’s offensive success the last two seasons.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 7
TEAM – 4
POS — 3
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 7
STARTS – 6

6
DEREK DENNIS
OL | CGY

(Edit: Signed by SSK on Feb. 14)

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

Derek Dennis anchored one of the league’s best offensive lines, protecting Bo Levi Mitchell’s blind side throughout an unforgettable season in Calgary. It’s nice to hit free agency soon after winning Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman — the only thing that’ll hurt is he’s not Canadian.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 6
TEAM – 2
POS — 2
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 18
STARTS – 18

5
BRYAN BURNHAM
REC | BC

(Edit: Extended by BC on Feb. 12)

The Canadian Press

Photo: The Canadian Press

THE LOW DOWN

Fearless over the middle of the field, Bryan Burnham elevated his game in 2016 and emerged as one of the CFL’s top receivers. His 17.6-yard average put him in elite territory while he and Emmanuel Arceneaux formed the second-best duo in the league. At 26 years old, the best may be yet to come.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 5
TEAM – 1
POS — 3
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 18
REC YDS – 1,392
AVG17.6

4
ABDUL KANNEH
DB | OTT

(Edit: Signed by HAM on Feb. 14)

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

He doesn’t look imposing at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, but make no mistake: physicality is a huge part of Abdul Kanneh’s game. The three-year veteran has become one of the league’s premier cover halfbacks and should receive plenty of calls should he make it to free agency.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 4
TEAM – 3
POS — 1
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 16
TKL – 52
INT 3

3
PIERRE LAVERTU*
OL | CGY

(Edit: Extended by CGY on Jan. 24)

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

Coming off a torn ACL, prospective buyers shouldn’t have any fear as it pertains to the former first overall pick in Pierre Lavertu. The 26-year-old still has his entire career in front of him and has already proven he can anchor any offensive line in the CFL.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 3
TEAM – 1
POS — 1
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 8
STARTS 8

2
GREG ELLINGSON
REC | OTT

(Edit: Extended by OTT on Feb. 10)

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

With 2,321 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns the last two seasons, Greg Ellingson has played an integral role in the REDBLACKS’ rise to CFL super power. Should he choose to test free agency, there are a number of teams that could surely use his talent and experience.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 2
TEAM – 2
POS — 2
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 18
REC – 76
REC YDS – 1,260

1
ERNEST JACKSON
REC | OTT

(Edit: Signed by MTL on Feb. 15)

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

THE LOW DOWN

Ernest Jackson was far and away the CFL’s most reliable receiver in 2016, ending it all with the game-winning catch in overtime of the Grey Cup. He’s an Ottawa REDBLACKS legend but if they don’t open up the wallet, he could soon be headed elsewhere.

FA RANKINGS
OVR – 1
TEAM – 1
POS — 1
2016 BY THE #’S
GP – 17
REC YDS – 1,225
TD 10
Fan Poll
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