December 1, 2023

Ferguson: Pending Free Agents on every team’s priority list

Dave Chidley/

Not so long ago there was an iconic story passed around NBA circles about an owner and members of a team visiting a pending free agent and barricading the door to prevent any other teams from making advances for his services.

In NCAA football, the recruiting trail has wild tales of players getting snowed into remote chalets and being unable to get a coach off the phone with the expressed purpose of keeping that talent firmly in the grasp of their potential collegiate suitor.

 Official 2024 Free Agent Tracker
» Costabile: 5 pending free agents that need to stay put
» O’Leary: Five Free Agency game changers
» Ferguson: My top 20 pending National FAs

The lengths teams, coaches, and general managers go to in order to lock down the services of highly coveted players can often seem wildly over the top, but once in a while you retain or get a player to join your club who makes all the difference.

With that in mind, here are my lock the door, refuse to get off the phone free agents that each CFL team must refuse to let dance with anyone other than the one who brought them.

BC Lions
Mathieu Betts | DL


It’s simple to say Mathieu Betts needs to be retained by the Lions after a record-setting season, breaking the Canadian sack record, but he was much more than just a number. I fear for BC fans that Danny Maciocia and the Alouettes will see even greater value in bringing the immense talent home to Quebec.

Edmonton Elks
Loucheiz Purifoy | DB

The Elks have a lot of work to do this off-season, but I believe their first mission should be to establish a core and eliminate the transient nature of their roster over the past couple years. Loucheiz Purifoy is getting long in the tooth but refuses to ‘age’ and continues to fly around making plays and demanding the best of everyone around him.

Calgary Stampeders
Micah Awe | LB

After Darnell Sankey and Jameer Thurman left, I assumed the next Stampeders man in the middle would simply be an accessory to the greatness of fellow Calgary linebacker Cameron Judge. All Micah Awe did was slot in perfectly and set a franchise record for tackles. Dave Dickenson needs to call Awe’s cell phone provider and cancel his service immediately.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Brady Oliveira | RB


Brady Oliveira and his agent will do their due diligence, but after the 2,000 all-purpose yards season he just had and getting so close to back-to-back Grey Cup wins, seeing the hometown product sign elsewhere would be a travesty to blue and gold fans from Nunalla to Emerson.

Saskatchewan Roughriders
Shawn Bane Jr. | REC

I think there is a lot more meat on this bone. With plenty of other good fits as ‘lock the door’ keepers in Regina, Shawn Bane Jr.’s potential in his first year as a starter is what jumps out to me. Paired with a better system, a healthy Trevor Harris, and another years worth of experience, there is no reason Saskatchewan should let Bane Jr. get anywhere close to February.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Tim White | REC

A back-to-back CFL All-Star and an emerging cornerstone of the Ticats passing attack in this decade regardless of rotating quarterbacks, the receiver group features few top end talents this season but Tim White is arguably chief amongst them and should be hosting a press conference announcing his extension in the basement of Tim Hortons Field any minute now.

Toronto Argonauts
Wynton McManis | LB


He does everything; he’s marketable, relatable, a warrior, and sets the tone for everyone from defence to special teams and beyond. Wynton McManis is a ‘pay whatever is needed’ kind of player, but the Argos brass know that, as you and I both do.

Brandin Dandridge | DB

For an organization needing infectious energy and splash plays, not to mention players who can fill multiple roles at a high level, Brandin Dandridge is the perfect fit and Ottawa shouldn’t let him test the open market or they might feel a very real void come June.

Montreal Alouettes
Tyrice Beverette | LB

A special teams tackling dynamo while serving as a flexible and unique defensive puzzle piece for defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe, Tyrice Beverette has carved out a place for himself in the CFL landscape, who few can claim, and he will have interested partners but needs to be locked up before we hit Christmas.

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