The Canadian Press
Nobody likes them. Every player has a painful memory of them from middle school to pro ball, and inevitably every year a couple of players hit the open market that just a few weeks ago you thought might be a lock to fit in your roster.
With the first week of pre-season games in the books, teams have begun sitting down, reviewing game film and determining who earned the right to make their roster.
With that comes cuts and potential new landing spots for players who other teams deem to be an upgrade from their current situation. With that in mind, here are my top five players who are now free agents to watch for.
JORDAN WILLIAMS-LAMBERT – RECEIVER
In 2021 when the Saskatchewan Roughriders were struggling to hit the deep ball, Williams-Lambert could have been the solution before Duke Williams’ arrival, if he had stayed healthy. After just four games played in green last year, the big-bodied receiver was a free agent and signed in Calgary only to get released this week.
In 2018 Williams-Lambert played in 17 games making 62 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns. If any team believes he can stay on the field and contribute close to that, he’ll be off the market quickly. Calgary’s roster was stacked with Reggie Begelton and Kamar Jorden and just didn’t leave much available for the American pass-grabber, who would be an intriguing fit alongside Jevon Cottoy in BC or back in Saskatchewan to help replace some size lost by Brayden Lenius NFL exodus.
ANTONIO PIPKIN – QUARTERBACK
The quick emergence of Chad Kelly in Toronto obviously had a major impact on this Double Blue decision. With a big arm, endless accolades and what appears to be a motivation to conquer the Canadian game, the upside on Kelly was deemed large enough to choose him over Pipkin, who might have a more limited ceiling, but has plenty of tools in his bag worthy of signing elsewhere.
With most of the quarterback market set, I see few direct opportunities for Pipkin, but BC and Winnipeg do come to mind. The Lions could use a true short yardage quarterback to dress alongside Nathan Rourke and Michael O’Connor, while his physicality in the QB run game could interest the Bombers as a Streveler-light option, adding a dynamic skillset that Dru Brown and Dakota Prukop don’t possess.
CHANDLER WORTHY – RECEIVER
Worthy’s ultimate underdog journey continues after the Argos let him go over the weekend. His on again, off again relationship with Toronto has been playing out since 2017 with multiple signings and releases, including a stint in 2021 that saw him couch surfing in Toronto and throwing with Argos QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson to stay in shape on off days. That practice, in turn, helped Toronto bring him back yet again for the stretch run.
If Worthy stays north of the border, I could see Ottawa or Hamilton picking him up should any prioritized receivers fall victim to early season injury. The REDBLACKS could be of interest after Ryan Davis was placed on the six-game injured list on Monday.
ANDREW PICKETT – OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
One look at the REDBLACKS offensive line depth on Friday and you knew there wasn’t any way they could keep everyone. Andrew Pickett drew the shortest stick.
A third round pick in 2018, Pickett has potential and upside despite missing large chunks of time due to injury. He has centre experience, has many good years in front of him and has the frame to compete with any club should he get the opportunity.
BRADY SHELDON – LINEBACKER
This one is all eye test with little knowledge of Sheldon’s actual worthiness to sign elsewhere other than making a positive impression on me in Friday’s REDBLACKS pre-season win over Sheldon’s Argos.
While putting together my depth chart for the game and logging height/weight for each player, as I always do and rarely actually bring to air, I stumbled upon what was No. 41 in Toronto with the measurables of six-foot-five and 230 pounds. WHOA. To further my brief affinity for his potential, Sheldon laid a thundering hit on special teams in the second half. All of this wasn’t enough to stay in Toronto but there has to be something here for another club to work with.