O’Leary: It’s noon on free agency day, but now what?

The Guinness world record for most dominoes toppled in a circle bomb or circle field was set in March of 2017.

A team of 18 domino experts spent 10 days setting up their 76,017-piece formation, then sat back and watched as the first ones fell, toppling the entire setup.

It’s taken a little longer than that for the CFL’s domino structure to be set up, but the first and biggest one had its fall scheduled on Monday night to open up what promises to be a game changing free agency period.

With TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reporting that Mike Reilly will join the BC Lions in free agency, the dominoes are teetering, waiting to set off a possible chain reaction that sees numerous teams across the league look vastly different than they did at the end of the 2018 season.

» Preview: Breaking down all nine teams in FA19
» View CFL.ca Free Agent Tracker
» O’Leary: Pending Reilly signing will be historic

If we go by John Hufnagel’s comments from Monday and assume that Bo Levi Mitchell will be back with the Stampeders if he doesn’t pursue an NFL option, the free agent market will shift from Reilly to Trevor Harris.

Harris, 32, should have his pick between teams that are hunting for a starting quarterback. The Ottawa REDBLACKS will want to re-sign him, but the list of teams waiting for him is a long one. Brock Sunderland, who knows Harris well from their time together in Ottawa, will likely try to convince him to take Reilly’s now open locker-room stall in Edmonton. Saskatchewan is under new general management with Jeremy O’Day, but the Riders’ needs remain unchanged, essentially from the time that Darian Durant left town after the 2016 season. The Argos are reportedly willing to break the bank to make a pitch to Mitchell. Would they turn their attention to Harris too, after he started his CFL career in Toronto?

If Mitchell does go the NFL route, that will leave the Stamps in a tough spot.. Hufnagel has said that he wants an experienced QB as his starter for 2019. So if it’s not Mitchell, where do the Stamps look? This is where Kevin Glenn or Travis Lulay could come into play. Both have more than enough experience in the CFL and would make sense on a one-year deal, buying the Stamps time to see how Mitchell’s NFL trip plays out.

That still leaves two experienced quarterbacks on the hunt for starting jobs. Jonathon Jennings knew he’d played his last game in BC when the 2018 season ended and Zach Collaros likely left Saskatchewan with the same impression. Jennings is only 26 and could still have a decade of football left in him in the right situation. Collaros is 30 and looking to show after a disappointing year in Riders green that he can still sling the ball the way he did at the start of his career in Toronto and Hamilton.

Collaros isn’t the only quarterback that could leave Saskatchewan on a sour note. His backup, Brandon Bridge, is also a free agent. Bridge is just 26 and has only started 10 games in his time in the CFL, so he’s a tough sell as a full-time starter but he’ll be looking for a situation where he can grow and have an opportunity. He could land just about anywhere.

Reilly set things in motion on the free agency period, but each quarterback transaction that follows will have its own ripple effect across the league. There aren’t 76,000-plus pieces in this display, but it’s about to change quickly.