- Free Agency
TORONTO — The BC Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers were among the busier teams on the opening day of free agency.
But while many of free agency’s biggest names have either signed extensions or found new teams, there are still some stars looking for new homes.
While the Riders made a splash with the Zack Evans signing, Chris Jones is never afraid to make a big deal and could be active again on Day 2.
Meanwhile, the Argos were the quietest team on the opening day of free agency, but you know that Jim Popp is looking for ways to improve the defending Grey Cup Champions.
Which players could impact the market on Wednesday? Let’s take a look:
T.J. Heath | HB
Reports have linked one of the league’s top-ranked free agents to his former team, the Toronto Argonauts. But while the Argos are in the market for a halfback, they aren’t the only team, with the Montreal Alouettes also looking to bolster their defence.
There are two elite halfbacks on the market with Aaron Grymes being the other one, meaning Heath will be one of the most coveted players when things start moving again Wednesday.
Aaron Grymes | HB
The Edmonton Eskimos appear confident they can sign their star halfback to a contract extension. That would solidify a defence that added Alex Bazzie on day one of free agency and also extended halfback Forrest Hightower and boundary corner Johnny Adams Jr.
Grymes is superb athlete with elite closing speed who’s tailor made for the field halfback position in the three-down game.
Mitchell White | CB
One of the CFL’s stingiest cover corners, Mitchell White didn’t get a ton of press on the opening day of free agency. Maybe the rumour mill will pick up on Day 2, as several teams across the league could use a strong cover corner.
Toronto and BC appear to be solid destinations for the fifth-year CFL corner, who’s also played for Ottawa and Montreal and won two Grey Cups.
Travis Bond | OG
With most of the top offensive linemen flying off the board, Travis Bond is the most coveted big man on the market going into the second day of free agency. An American guard, Bond won’t command top dollar on the market but he can provide an immediate boost to any offensive line in the CFL.
Just ask the Bombers, who had one of the best offensive lines in the league in 2017 with three starting Americans, including the 27-year-old Bond.
Bear Woods | LB
He’s not the quickest or the fastest linebacker in the game, but Bear Woods shouldn’t be overlooked for two reasons: his leadership and his physical presence on a defence. Woods was the heart of a Grey Cup-winning defence last season, while his ability as a tackler puts him among the CFL’s best linebackers.
A few teams could use an upgrade in Woods’ spot, including the Ottawa REDBLACKS and Winnipeg Blue Bombers — and of course don’t rule out a return to Toronto.
Jamaal Westerman | DE
The Brampton, Ont. native might be the top ratio-breaker in the league right now, let alone free agency. It’s hard to find a defensive end with a Canadian passport that can make a difference on the field, and Jamaal Westerman continued to prove in 2017 that he’s one of the most dominant pass-rushers in the CFL.
Westerman should see an offer he likes by the end of Wednesday, especially as the market begins to thin.
John White | RB
A year ago, John White went into the 2017 season as quite possibly the top-ranked running back in the CFL. The second major injury of his career has raised skepticism, but there’s no reason White can’t rebound from the torn ACL that ended his season early last summer.
While there’s some risk associated with the 26-year-old, White’s upside is simply too much to ignore.
Jerome Messam | RB
One of the most intriguing names on the free agent market, Jerome Messam has been linked to his former team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, following his foray into free agency.
Despite his age (32), Messam has had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and appeared in two straight Grey Cups. He’s the most physically-dominant running back in the CFL, and a ratio-breaker to boot.
Ronnie Yell | CB
The second-best corner on the market beside Mitchell White, Ronnie Yell should get plenty of looks after playing all 18 games and recording a career-high 64 tackles in 2017.
Yell is a physical presence at the boundary and has proven he can stack up against some of the league’s most imposing pass-catchers. He’s also in his prime at just 26 years old.
Taylor Reed | LB
After recording 94 tackles last year in Ottawa, Taylor Reed is coming off the best statistical season of his career. The 26-year-old has bounced around the league in his career, but he’s a solid athlete and an excellent tackler who can anchor a linebacking corps.
With a few teams needing help at that position, look for Reed to find a home some time over the next couple of days.