January 28, 2024

Five stats that could change in Free Agency

Patrick Doyle/CFL.ca

TORONTO — Free agency can symbolize both hope and change.

Teams will have to face the inevitability of turnover while simultaneously embracing the new as they attempt to build their rosters for 2024. We’ll see new names in new places come February 13 but we’ll only comprehend the consequences of said words when players take the field in June.

There is hope that a weakness can be transformed into strength, or a strength can become dominance. CFL.ca takes you through five 2023 stats that could look different by the end of next season.

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37 Sacks – Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Roughriders finished last in sacks in 2023 with 37 and could be looking to bump that number up for the upcoming season. Head coach Corey Mace led a defence in Toronto that finished in the opposite side of the spectrum, tallying 68 sacks, over 13 more than the second place BC Lions.

That could mean adding more firepower to the pass-rushing group with the addition of players like defensive lineman AC Leonard, who has yet to sign an extension with the Elks. Leonard finished tied for second with 12 sacks in 2023 and would instantly help Mace’s defence if he decides to test his options in free agency.

Speaking of Double Blue’s defence, Brandon Barlow played with the new Saskatchewan head coach in Toronto and could also be an interesting addition to the defensive line after finishing with nine sacks in 2023. At only 26-years-old, the young defensive lineman will be in high demand when free agency begins if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Argonauts.

25 Opponent Turnovers – Edmonton

Edmonton finished with a league-low 25 turnovers forced in 2023, putting them in a difficult position to win games. That could change in 2024 as a new-look Elks team pushes for a playoff spot in the West Division.

A pending free agent that could help in that department is defensive back Ciante Evans. The veteran had to deal with injuries last season, but has 17 interceptions to his name and showed his knack for the ball with three picks in the first three games of 2023 before getting injured. Another name that, if he doesn’t sign an extension before February, could be of great help is defensive back Demerio Houston. The 27-year-old led the CFL in interceptions with seven and would provide the kind of ball-hawking presence that rattles opposing quarterbacks.


250.0 Passing yards per game – Montreal

The current champions finished fifth in passing yards per game with 250.0 in Cody Fajardo‘s first season in Montreal. Not only that but his top target Austin Mack has gone south to join the Atlanta Falcons, leaving a clear need at receiver for the Alouettes.

A name that would instantly upgrade the offence and give Grey Cup MVP another option is Tim White. The veteran is a pending free agent and if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Tiger-Cats by February 13, the Als could be interested in pairing him with Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Canadian Tyson Philpot.

22.7 points scored per game Hamilton

The Tiger-Cats finished in the bottom three in points scored and could be looking to add more firepower to their offence in 2024.

Two players that could hit the market if they don’t sign an extension with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are Most Outstanding Canadian Brady Oliveira and All-Star receiver Dalton Schoen. These two combined for 23 touchdowns and were a big reason why the Bombers finished first in points scored per game (33.0) in 2023 and would immediately upgrade any offence around the league.

1,391 Rushing Yards – BC

The Lions finished dead last in rushing yards per game in 2023 as the team’s identity continues to be the passing game led by Vernon Adams Jr., Keon Hatcher and Alexander Hollins.

That said, adding more power to their ground game would make for a more versatile offence that could be enough to push them over the edge when the post-season rolls around. Oliveira and AJ Ouellette are two of the bigger names that project to be available, but guys like Devonte Williams, William Stanback and Ka’Deem Carey could also make sense as veterans who already have shown they can be relied upon.

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