February 14, 2020

Nye: Sneaky good signings of FA20

Geoff Robins/CFL.ca

For the fans, Free agency is hoping and dreaming of your team landing a big name. Those players are no-brainer, impact players.

Micah Johnson in BC, Richard Leonard in Calgary and DeVier Posey in Hamilton are clearly teams trying to fill giant holes with big names and big money free agents.

But there are always a handful of players that end up being impactful that didn’t get the hype of free agent day.

I love going through and picking out the underrated players from free agent day that could do some big things for their new team, while flying under the radar over the first three days.

Here are five of the players I think deserved more hype than they received.

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Change of Pace: Recapping Day 2 of CFL Free Agency
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Ryan Brown is now on a defensive line with Micah Johnson and I’m excited to see what that tandem could do. Brown heads to BC from Montreal where in his first two seasons he had eight sacks.

The 25-year old is a six-foot-six, 270-pound force who, with Johnson along side him and Chris Casher coming over from Calgary, will be allowed to get a lot of one-on-ones and use his physical force to make a name for himself in 2020.

Brown and Johnson side-by-side may rival Ted Laurent and Dylan Wynn‘s combo in Hamilton.

Josh Johnson lands in Winnipeg from Edmonton and fills some of the void left by Winston Rose and Marcus Sayles, who took off to the NFL after winning the Grey Cup.

Johnson is an excellent defender and helps Mike O’Shea and defensive coordinator Richie Hall try to patch up some of the holes they have in the secondary. Johnson is not only one of the most underrated free agent signings but also one of the most underrated and least talked about defensive backs in the league.

Speaking of players leaving the Grey Cup Champs, defensive tackle Drake Nevis has made the move to Toronto. The Argonauts have to be extremely pleased of adding Nevis after losing Cleyon Laing to the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

Nevis can plug some big holes for the Argonauts defensive line as a staunch, run-stopper and when you were witnessing the Bombers slam shut one yard gambles from opponents in the playoffs, Nevis was right in the middle of it. He even added two sacks in the playoffs for the Bombers.

Let’s give some love to the special teamers! Alexandre Gagne makes the move home to Montreal after a few years with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Gagne was a part of the ‘poutine brothers’ with Alex Chevrier in the Riders locker room. Craig Dickenson had Gagne everywhere on specials and in 2019, Gagne even started snapping more on field goals and point-afters. And when you talk about underrated, the long snapper is always on the list.


Gagne also gets down field on punts and kickoffs and has consistently been in the top part of the league is special team tackles and the Alouettes got a solid piece to the national depth to do amazing work.

And at the end of the year, Gagne will be in the conversation in Montreal for special teams player of the year like he was the last couple of years in Saskatchewan.

Anthony Coombs continues his tour of Ontario. From Toronto to Hamilton and now to Ottawa.

I really don’t think we’ve seen Coombs utilized to his full potential. A few years ago in Toronto, in an injury shortened season, Coombs was close to a 1,000-yard receiving pace. I look at a game last year in Hamilton when he had 11 touches for over 100-yards and think Ottawa could do a lot of different things with the versatile athlete from the University of Manitoba.

Paul LaPolice should know what he has in Coombs, Nic Demski had a similar skill set, that could be used from the backfield to the receiving corps.

Coombs could be set up for a career year in Ottawa … if he can stay healthy, which has been a problem in his career.