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TORONTO — In a salary cap world, cutdown day always leads to difficult decisions for CFL coaching staffs.
Saturday’s roster squeeze was no different, bringing a handful of surprises ranging from recent draft picks to long-time veterans.
For some of those let go, this could be the end of the line. Others will catch on quickly and find a better fit elsewhere.
CFL.ca breaks down 11 names to watch following cutdown day:
*The list does not include players released prior to Saturday.
CREZDON BUTLER | DB, SSK
Despite being 32, Crezdon Butler‘s release comes as a surprise after recording 70 tackles in 26 games the last two seasons. Butler was penciled in as the team’s starting field corner going into training camp, but the addition of Elie Bouka, a former Riders draft pick, may have factored into the decision.
CHAD GETER | DL, SSK
In his rookie season in 2018, defensive end Chad Geter made an impact on Chris Jones’ defence despite limited playing time. The South Carolina native had three sacks and 17 tackles, along with 17 more special teams takedowns, and was expected to contribute more this season following the departure of Willie Jefferson.
JULIEN LAURENT | DL, BC
Another recent first round pick no longer with his original team. Julien Laurent is one of the most surprising names on this list, as he’s out in BC just one year after being picked seventh overall. The 26-year-old played seven games and made two defensive tackles last season, seeing limited playing time in his first CFL season. Laurent, a Toronto native, should draw plenty of interest from around the league.
RASHAUN SIMONISE | REC, WPG
The Bombers knew they were getting a long-term project when they drafted Rashaun Simonise 12th overall in 2018. That’s why it’s so surprising that after just one season they are cutting ties with the talented 24-year-old. Some are speculating the Bombers could bring in recently-released Anthony Coombs, who’s a Winnipeg native. Either way, Simonise should land on a CFL roster before long.
LADARIUS GALLOWAY | RB, CGY
Even though he was released, LaDarius Galloway has turned heads over the last couple of weeks. He was one of the Stamps’ final cuts despite getting just four carries throughout the pre-season, making the most of those carries with 45 rushing yards. Still, despite his 11.3-yard average, Galloway found himself on the outside looking in at a talented Stampeder backfield, though his name should be on speed dial for front offices across the league.
CHRIS OSEI-KUSI | REC, MTL
It’s not the first time a fourth round pick hasn’t made it out of camp, but the release of Chris Osei-Kusi still comes as a surprise. The pass-catcher out of Queen’s put on an impressive display at the 2019 CFL Combine, and was expected to fill a position of need for the Montreal Alouettes. Osei-Kusi’s upside should intrigue at least a small handful of CFL general managers.
DONDRE WRIGHT | DB, MTL
The star of the 2017 CFL Combine, Dondre Wright generated plenty of hype before being picked 20th overall by the Alouettes. It looked like his skill-set would transfer to the next level after starting regularly as a rookie, recording 45 defensive tackles in 18 games, but in 2018 he barely saw the field. Though the addition of Taylor Loffler may have made Wright expendable in Montreal, the 25-year-old remains an intriguing prospect.
GABRIEL KNAPTON | DL, MTL
It’s been a rough go for veteran defensive end Gabriel Knapton the last couple of years, going back and forth between Montreal and BC while recording just seven sacks in 30 games. That’s a far cry from the production we saw earlier in his career, when he averaged nearly 10 sacks per season from 2014 through 2016. At 30 years old, Knapton could still be of service somewhere.
JOSIAH ST. JOHN | OL, TOR
First overall picks have not lived up to their billing lately. A year after Faith Ekakitie was cut by the Bombers, another top draft pick is looking for a new team as Josiah St. John was cut by the Argos. Considering St. John’s local ties along with the Argos’ need to get younger up front, the move doesn’t exactly bode well for the 6-foot-5, 309-pound lineman’s future in the league — though the talented and versatile lineman should still be on the radar.
BRANDON BRIDGE | QB, TOR
A Canadian quarterback playing for his hometown team was a fun story while it lasted. Unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be, as the Argos like the upside of 2019 draft pick Michael O’Connor, while top quarterbacks on the depth chart James Franklin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson settled any uncertainties at the quarterback position with their pre-season play. At 27, Bridge is still young and talented enough to warrant an opportunity on a CFL roster.
TYLER CRAPIGNA | K, TOR
Despite being a career 86.4 per cent kicker, and his status as a national, Tyler Crapigna finds himself out of work once again this spring. The 26-year-old lost his job in Regina after a season-ending injury last year and couldn’t catch on with the Argos, who will go with an American in Drew Brown. With a constant need for talented Canadian kickers, Crapigna’s name should come up again soon.