May 9, 2023

Five Things to Know: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Kevin Sousa (

As the 2023 season approaches, is here to catch you up with the Five Things To Know series. Each article will look at key storylines facing each team this season, while examining off-season movement and where your team might stand in 2023. 

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were not going to sit back and hope that their number one quarterback would bounce back after a disappointing 2022 season. They made that abundantly clear when they traded for Bo Levi Mitchell last November.

That move signalled that a shake-up was in store for the team at its most crucial position, but Hamilton’s off-season mixology would not end there. Some of the changes were by front office design. Others were in response to the inevitable addition and subtraction that comes from the free agency decisions made by players.

In attempting to end the CFL’s longest current Grey Cup drought, the Ticats head into the 2023 season with some intriguing plot lines. Here are a few.

» Five Things To Know: Edmonton Elks
» Five Things To Know: Saskatchewan Roughriders
» Five Things To Know: Montreal Alouettes
» Five Things To Know: BC Lions
» Five Things To Know: Ottawa REDBLACKS
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The Ticats banked on Dane Evans as their franchise quarterback a year ago, letting Jeremiah Masoli walk in free agency in 2022. But things did not go as planned, with Evans struggling mightily throughout last season, leading the ‘Cats to believe they needed to make a big change at the position.

In trading for the rights to Mitchell at season’s end – and then subsequently signing the two-time Most Outstanding Player (2016, 2018) to a new contract, the Ticats have provided us with an easy pick for what is their most intriguing storyline heading into this season.

After a sub-par 2022 in Calgary, can the change of scenery lead to a revitalized Bo in 2023? If the 33-year-old veteran can find his form in black and gold, the Ticats will have a road map to playing in a home Grey Cup game this season, considering they have very good weapons around Bo on that offence.

Wide receiver Tim White was fourth in the CFL in receiving yards in 2022 and is one of many weapons available for the newly-arrived Bo Levi Mitchell (Kevin Sousa/

“Himothy” is back (receiver Tim White) and veteran Duke Williams is on board too. Bralon Addison is coming off last year’s Achille’s injury and so his availability, at least from the get-go, is in question. But when he does get back into the line-up, look out.

Passing game not working for ya? Bo can turn around and hand off to running back James Butler, a thousand-yard man with the BC Lions last season. And there’s a solid, seasoned offensive line in front of Mitchell so it looks like it is most – if not all – systems go for the Ticats’ offence in 2023.


While the Ticats lost big defensive line pieces in free agency, they were able to add quality players while retaining some mainstays. And that means they have rotational depth and ratio flexibility within the unit.

Defensive tackle Casey Sayles comes over from Winnipeg as a free agent to bolster the interior after Micah Johnson departed to Saskatchewan. It’s an interior that already had veterans Dylan Wynn and National Ted Laurent in place. Defensive end Julian Howsare is gone, yes, but the ‘Cats retrieved dominant pass rusher Ja’Gared Davis in free agency, after he spent a year in Toronto.

Defensive tackle Dylan Wynn remains a force in the interior of a Ticats defence that allowed the fewest rushing yards per game (82.9) in 2022 (Chris Tanouye/

Another free agent DE, National Kwaku Boateng, has been signed and if he can fully return to form after a missed season due to an Achille’s injury, he’ll add his explosive push off the edge, backed by third-year man Mason Bennett.

The Ticats also have defensive end Malik Carney, who emerged in his second year to collect 26 tackles and seven sacks, returning as well. This unit is rich with experience and dominating abilities.


Big, big changes are in evidence for the Ticat secondary, with two dominant veterans – Jumal Rolle and Ciante Evans – signing with the Montreal Alouettes. A third vet, Cariel Brooks, was surprisingly released by Hamilton this off-season, signing with the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

Only two starters from 2022 remain, but they are very, very good ones; Safety Tunde Adeleke and halfback Richard Leonard. With three starting spots up for grabs – including two corner positions – the Ticats need emergent performers to step up.

NFL vet Javien Elliott – who played a bit with Calgary last season – is a good bet for a spot. Will Sunderland played one game at corner as a rookie in 2022. Lawrence Woods III is an interesting candidate to emerge defensively. The Ticats’ premium return man, will he get a chance to pull double duty? Remember, Hamilton’s done that before, and not so long ago, when Frankie Williams had a standout 2019 season for them. If the ‘Cats want to use Woods on defence, they could give him a little relief on returns with Papi White.


Extra! Extra! Darth Vader joins the rebels! Former Toronto Argonauts Chris Edwards signed with Hamilton in free agency and that is an intriguing move considering he had been considered Public Enemy Number One with the Ticats’ faithful for the last two seasons.

Shouldn’t take too long for most if not all to be forgiven and forgotten, though, if Edwards steps in does what he usually has done over his career; annoy the opposition to distraction and flip pivotal moments in his team’s favour with big plays. Edwards might be an easy add at the SAM position with Kameron Kelly now gone, but he is one of those Swiss army knife kind of defenders and could easily drop back into the secondary if the Ticats desire.


Middle linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox was allowed to slip away from Hamilton in free agency, even though he finished third in the CFL in 2022 in total defensive plays with 113. Big loss for the Ticats.

Santos-Knox was a fundamental part of Hamilton’s defensive efficiencies, but they’ll lament his loss only so much because they were able to secure the services of one Jameer Thurman as a replacement.

Thurman spent four splendid seasons in Calgary, first as a weak side linebacker, and then as the Stamps’ man in the middle, where he forced five turnovers in 2022, making 74 tackles. The position is secure. And then some.

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