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Jumping Ship: REDBLACKS lure Cleyon Laing away from Boatmen

OTTAWA — One of the most productive Canadian interior lineman in recent memory is off the free agent board and jumping ship.  Former Argos DT Cleyon Laing has inked a three-year deal with the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Laing accepted a qualifying offer submitted by the REDBLACKS before the free agency window opened.

Laing was ranked 13th on CFL.ca’s Top 30 Pending Free Agents list.

“Laing is one of the most dominate Canadians interior lineman that we have seen over last ten years,” said CFL.ca’s Davis Sanchez. “He’s what you want in the interior of a defence. Defensive coordinator Mike Benevedes should be happy to add a physical defensive lineman that also helps with your ratio.”

Laing has spent the past seven years in the CFL, playing six of them in Toronto, winning back-to-back Grey Cups in 2016 (Ottawa) and 2017 (Toronto). 

The 29-year-old started 15 contests in 2019, generating 27 tackles, one special team tackle and seven sacks. 


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”It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to play for REDBLACKS and the City of Ottawa again,” said Laing. “I have always had a soft spot for Ottawa and how the teams and the fans embraced me in a short amount of time. Being able to seal that experience with a championship was a dream come true. I look forward to this chance to help build this group into a championship team with an amazing coaching staff and talented teammates.”

Ottawa also added linebackers Don Unamba and Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga to their defence and receiver Anthony Coombs to their offence.

“The REDBLACKS are much better today with the addition of Cleyon Laing, Anthony Coombs, Christopher Mulumba-Tshimanga and Don Unamba,” said GM Marcel Desjardins. “They are excellent players who provide a combination of experience and versatility while providing great ratio flexibility for the National or Veteran American starter requirements. We are thrilled to be able get these men into a REDBLACKS uniform.”

Following his collegiate career at Iowa State, Laing was selected ninth overall by the Argos in the 2012 CFL Draft. 

He’d spend three seasons with the Boatmen before getting an opportunity to play ball in the NFL. 

Laing signed with the Miami Dolphins ahead of the 2016 season. He’d spend a year with the team on their practice roster but was released in October 2016, leaving him open to a return home. He’d sign with the Ottawa REDBLACKS and play one game and a pair of playoff contests, including the 104th Grey Cup, which the REDBLACKS came out on the winning end of. 

He’d make his return to Toronto that following off-season and has stuck with the Double Blue ever since. 

In 89 career games, Laing has posted 144 tackles, one special team tackle, 33 sacks and three forced fumbles. 

The Edmonton, Alta., native has been named an East Division All-Star four times (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019) and has two Grey Cups to his name (2016, 2017).