January 17, 2024

Costabile: Four burning off-season questions


We’re just a few weeks into 2024 and there’s been plenty of CFL news coming across our timelines.

From coaching staff announcements to extensions to trades, there’s been something for everyone as we all count down the days until the season starts in June.

If you’re anything like me, you find yourself asking a lot of questions this time of the year, even if you know you won’t have the answers to those questions for a while. It’s fun to speculate, thinking ahead to warmer days in a stadium somewhere in Canada and what each of the nine teams will look like come kickoff.

As we wade through the cold and snow of the winter, and not-so-patiently wait for the summer, here are a few burning questions that I’ve been pondering to start the year.

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Will McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. pick up where they left off in 2022?

The trade between the Edmonton Elks and Toronto Argonauts made a splash on both sides (more on what it means for the Argos in a moment). When Toronto sent Kurleigh Gittens Jr. to the Elks, it reunited the Canadian with the quarterback that helped him to his most productive season in the CFL.

2022 was Gittens Jr.’s breakout year, hauling in a career-high in yards (1,101) and touchdowns (five). He missed time with injury in 2023, only playing in 10 games, but if he did suit up a full season, he was only on pace for 748 yards.

It remains to be seen if the magic from their Grey Cup-winning season can continue in new colours, but heading to a team with Bethel-Thompson seems to be the perfect situation for the 26-year-old.

What does Jake Ceresna joining the Argos mean?

Jake Ceresna was sent to the Toronto Argonauts in a trade with the Edmonton Elks earlier this week (Walter Tychnowicz/CFL.ca)

And now for the second half of the trade; Jake Ceresna. Ceresna was one of the most productive defenders getting after the quarterback last season, finishing the year tied for second in sacks (12). But what does this mean for Toronto and their defensive line?

Tackle Shawn Oakman is a pending free agent and hasn’t signed an extension with the team at the time of this writing. Their other tackle, Dewayne Hendrix, is also a pending free agent without a new contract in his hand as of yet. Those are two of Toronto’s starters on the D-line that may not return to The Six.

With Ceresna in the building, they have insurance at tackle or edge (he can play both), if they don’t come to an agreement with Oakman or Hendrix, who may want to test the market in February.

On a personal note: I can’t wait to see Folarin Orimolade, who just signed an extension with the team this week, and Cerensa play on the same line together. Sorry in advance, opposing quarterbacks.

What will the Roughriders do in 2024?

I know it’s only January but am I the only one excited for what the Saskatchewan Roughriders could be in 2024?

Corey Mace has brought an excitement to the team since it was announced he’d be their new head coach (I’d even run through a wall for this guy after watching his opening press conference). He announced his staff on Monday and it’s full of some really great names on both sides of the ball. He’s brought over Josh Bell and Edwin Harrison from the Argonauts to coach pass game/defensive backs and offensive line, respectively. DaVaris Daniels‘ dad, Philip, will be in house to coach the defensive line, and former CFL players J.C. Sherritt and Marquay McDaniel will lead the linebackers/run game and receivers.

“I’m familiar with many of them because I either coached with them before and/or I played with them or against them and I know the mental makeup,” Mace told Riderville.com’s Rob Vanstone. “The number one thing for me is good people. The staff is filled with that across the board. There’s a lot of winning culture within this staff.”

There’s still work to be done on the roster, of course, with plenty of players holding expiring contracts, but I’m excited to see what Corey and his staff can do in 2024.

Where will Brady Oliveira play in 2024?


After one of the best seasons we’ve seen from a running back in recent memory, Brady Oliveira now sits with an expiring contract in his hands.

It was a match made in heaven for the Winnipeg native to play for the Bombers but we’re now under a month from free agency and he still hasn’t signed a new deal with his hometown club. And after seeing his tweet on January 10 saying “hmmm, so where will I end up?” with a money bag emoji, something tells me he’s looking to test the waters come February 13.

So that leaves the question: where will the reigning Most Outstanding Canadian play in 2024? Will he stay in Winnipeg or will we see the 26-year-old don a new jersey for the first time in his CFL career? Only time will tell.

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