February 7, 2023

Costabile: A few thoughts one week from Free Agency

Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

There’s exactly seven days until one of the most exciting days of the CFL’s off-season: Free Agency.

With plenty of players across the league holding expiring contracts, those who don’t get a new deal done with their current team can hit the open market at noon on February 14.

Market Ready: The 2023 CFL Free Agent Tracker
» CFL.ca’s top 30 pending free agents
Free Agency: Negotiation window opens Feb. 5
» Everything you need to know about 2023 Free Agency

When the clock strikes 12, we’ll all be glued to our news feeds, not-so-patiently waiting for announcements to let us know where our favourite players have decided to sign on the dotted line.

The big day is still a week away, however, and we all know a lot can happen between now and then. In the meantime, I’ve been playing armchair general manager (as I’m sure we all have been) and here are a few things that have been on my mind ahead of Free Agency.

Eugene Lewis to BC?

With Eugene Lewis hinting on his social media that he’s going to test free agency this year, I haven’t stopped thinking about where the pass-catcher could go. There’s no doubt that Lewis will have offers from numerous teams, but which is the best fit? I, for one, hope he goes to BC.


Hear me out. I know replacing one player with another isn’t as simple as it may sound, but having Lewis on the Lions offence to pick up where recently-retired Bryan Burnham once was sounds like the perfect match to me (this will be my only Valentine’s Day pun of 2023 Free Agency, mark my words).

Burnham and Lewis have similar body-types; Bryan is six-foot-two and 205 pounds while Eugene is six-foot-one and 208 pounds. Both were known for making highlight-reel, contested catches. It’s never a 50/50 ball when either of these guys go up in coverage, it’s 80/20. Plus, you have to think about the chemistry that Lewis already has with Lions pivot Vernon Adams Jr. from their time together in Montreal.

It remains to be seen where Geno will play next season but a receiving corps with Lewis, Lucky Whitehead, Keon Hatcher and Dominique Rhymes sounds like one that I want to watch.

Slow, relaxing weekend? Not for the Argos.

It seemed like every time you logged onto CFL.ca or Twitter this past weekend, you saw the Argos sign another key piece of their team to an extension. The reigning Grey Cup Champs were busy, signing six players on all three sides of the ball. On Friday receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and safety Royce Metchie put pen to paper. Kicker Boris Bede and linebacker Wynton McManis were next on Saturday while defensive back DaShaun Amos and receiver DaVaris Daniels were locked up on Sunday.

Oh, and don’t forget the report from TSN’s Farhan Lalji on Friday that quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson plans to play football in 2023.

Gittens Jr. and Daniels were No. 1 and 2 at the receiver position in Toronto last season, with 1,101 and 860 yards, respectively. Gittens Jr. went on to be named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Canadian in his best season so far in the CFL. Receivers coach Pete Costanza should be thrilled to have both back in the mix for 2023.

On defence, McManis had an excellent year at WILL linebacker before injuries disrupted the final stretch of the campaign. He tallied 88 defensive tackles, three sacks and two interceptions while also getting in on special teams (seven special teams tackles). Amos and Metchie were staples in what was one of the top secondaries in the CFL last year and will be ready to work with defensive coordinator Corey Mace once again as they eye back-to-back championships.

It’s about to be busy in Tiger Town…I think

With the news that Bo Levi Mitchell has signed a deal with the Tiger-Cats, one can only assume that things may get a bit busier for the black and gold over the next few days. Prior to signing the former Stampeders pivot to a three-year deal, there were crickets coming from Hamilton and understandably so. They wanted to get their quarterback, and his salary, in place before looking to extend anyone else.


As of this writing, the Ticats have signed four other pending free agents; defensive end Malik Carney, running back Sean Thomas Erlington, quarterback Matthew Shiltz and fullback Myles Manalo. With plenty of stars holding expiring contracts like defensive linemen Julian Howsare and Micah Johnson, receivers Steven Dunbar and Tim White, and defensive backs Ciante Evans and Jumal Rolle, and linebacker Kameron Kelly, we can safely assume the Ticats front office will be busy at work trying to come to a deal with some of these guys before next week.

What is going on in the QB world?

For a few weeks now, there have been questions swirling about the pending free agent pivots. Will Bo Levi sign with the Ticats? Where will Cody Fajardo go? Is Trevor Harris staying in Montreal? Will McLeod Bethel-Thompson play in 2023?

A few of those questions have been answered (Bo signed with Hamilton and it’s been reported that MBT will be back this season) but how about the latest on Trevor Harris? TSN’s Farhan Lalji is reporting that Harris is likely to sign with the Roughriders when his contract expires next week. Harris spent the last two seasons in Montreal, most recently leading the Als to the Eastern Final where they ultimately fell to the Toronto Argonauts.

So what happens next for the Als? The other two quarterbacks on their roster are Dominique Davis (pending free agent) and Davis Alexander. Will they roll with one of those two or try to find someone else on the market next week? Plus, we still don’t know what happens with Fajardo. Will he sign in Montreal or somewhere else?

In Hamilton, Mitchell is locked in and Shiltz just signed a new contract. Does that mean Dane Evans‘ time in Hamilton up? If so, where does he end up?

So many questions that we will finally have an answer to next week and until then, let the speculation continue.

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