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January 19, 2022

Nye: Who’s missing from the top 30 pending FA list

Geoff Robins/CFL.ca

Who doesn’t like leftovers? I mean, after Thanksgiving I believe the leftovers are actually better than the main course. A hot turkey open faced sandwich with gravy and stuffing? How am I craving Thanksgiving leftovers 9 months early?

This is what free agency articles do to me when I’m trying to find a relevant reference for the point of the following piece.

I’m here to tell you that CFL.ca’s top-30 list is missing some big names.

Here are the guys that are left off that list, who may be ready to have better seasons than the guys on the list. Oh and by the way – to Micah Johnson, Richard Leonard, Markeith Ambles, Rasheed Bailey and Jaelon Acklin – I saw you but I even had to cut my best of the rest piece back. So even with a top-30 and a best of the rest, there’s still great players left.

» CFL.ca’s Top-30 pending free agents
The Great Debate: Who is the No. 1 pending free agent?
» CFL releases 2022 potential free agent list


Patrick Levels was a difference-maker for the Alouettes in 2021 and stands to do the same wherever he might play in 2022 (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Patrick Levels – I scrolled up and down the top-30 list to make sure I wasn’t missing something. So yeah, Levels would not only be on my top-30 list but potentially in the top-15. He plays with an edge and could be an impact player for any team trying to upgrade the SAM linebacker position.

Mike Edem – I’ve been watching Edem grow as not only an all-star safety but a leader in the locker room for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The national safety doesn’t get the headlines like other players but I think he’s as good as many defenders in the top-30 list.

Winston Rose – The 2019 all-star was a big addition to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers late in 2021 and was able to add depth to their secondary. Yes, he’s bounced around already in the CFL with four teams, but the corner isn’t too far removed from that impressive 2019 season.

Louchiez Purifoy – The Riders’ defensive player of the year is someone who you can tell to play almost every position in the secondary, from half to safety or down to SAM linebacker and he’ll succeed. That’s exactly what he did for Saskatchewan in 2021.

Derrick Moncrief – How good is Moncrief? He was named the Elks’ defensive player of the year after only nine games in the line-up. He developed into an all-star linebacker with the Roughriders before getting the attention of the NFL. While he’s back in Canada, there should be a hot pursuit for Moncrief across the league.


Plagued by inconsistent QB play in 2021, Derel Walker could be on the verge of regaining the elite form CFL fans have come to expect from him (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Derel Walker/Brandon Banks – I’m putting these two receivers together in this as they are both looking for redemption in 2022. Two years ago, they would be argued as top-10 free agents because of their play but it was a drop off for them in 2021. For Walker, that could be due to the QB play but Banks was so hot and cold in 2021 that you wonder how much the 34-year-old has left. Either way, I still think they both have some gas left.

Steven Dunbar Jr. – On the flip side of the veteran receivers, we saw Dunbar in his first season in the CFL go for 630 yards. In the Grey Cup, he caught a touchdown pass and six passes as a reliable target for the Tiger-Cats. If that’s his first year on the field in the CFL, what’s he going to do with an off-season to adjust to the CFL game? I’ve seen it time and time again. A receiver comes back from his first year and turns into a superstar.

Matt O’Donnell – The 32-year old offensive guard is a monster lineman. He’s been there and done that and if you’re looking for a player to solidify any offensive line immediately, it’ll be O’Donnell, if you can’t get an o-lineman that’s been listed on the CFL’s top-30 list.

Ryan Sceviour – The young Canadian offensive lineman has a bright future after being an eighth overall pick a few years ago in Calgary. He’s now grown to an every day starter and when you can get your hands on a Canadian interior offensive lineman with plenty of years left, that is a valuable addition to any team.

James Wilder Jr. – While some wondered if Wilder could get back to his rookie of the year form from 2017, he proved the answer to be yes, he can. In 2021, Wilder was one of the consistent bright spots on Edmonton’s offence and would have been well on his way to his first 1,000-yard rushing season. Wilder is also a great receiver out of the backfield. His 5.4 yards per carry was among the league’s best among regular running backs.

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