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We’re exactly one week from one of my favourite times of the CFL’s off-season: Free Agency.
The lead up to the big day is a lot of fun, speculating where players may end up (their current team or other wise) and trying to figure out what the identity of each team will be in June based on a few rumours in the middle of winter.
But there’s nothing like the day of Free Agency.
On February 13 the anticipation builds all morning as we stare at the clock waiting for it to strike noon ET and then start refreshing our feeds for the first news of the day.
We have a bit more waiting to do with the big day still a week away 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.
» Home Sweet Home: Brady Oliveira signs two-year deal with Bombers
» Steinberg: 4 potential landing spots for Mathieu Betts
» Costabile: 5 game-changing pending free agent defenders
» CFL.ca’s top 30 pending free agents
» 2024 Free Agency: Who could hit the open market?
» More 2024 Free Agency news, notes, and analysis
Which team has been busier than the Ottawa REDBLACKS in the last month? I’ll wait. If you said none, you’d probably be right.
Shawn Burke and co. have been working hard internally, signing extensions, reeling in free agents, and making trades.
They traded for the rights to Dru Brown from the Bombers and were able to agree to a two-year deal with the quarterback. They caught free agent Dominique Rhymes from the open waters, who returns to Ottawa after a few seasons in BC. They also retained 1,000-yard receiver Justin Hardy as well as pass-catcher Bralon Addison, who also has pulled in a 1,000-yard season in his career. Oh, and don’t forget, they signed their 1,000-yard running back Devonte Williams.
The biggest piece, to me, has been what they’ve done on defence. They’ve agreed to a deal with DB/LB Adarius Pickett on Tuesday, an excellent addition after they lost last year’s SAM linebacker Douglas Coleman III. They’ve signed Lorenzo Mauldin IV, Bryce Carter, Damon Webb, Frankie Griffen, Gary Johnson Jr., Tyron Vrede, keeping around key pieces of their starting defence that were holding expiring contracts.
I’m sure the team isn’t done yet either, with a handful of players still pending free agents and you can bet they’ll bring in some fresh faces next week too.
With Brady Oliveira signing an extension on Tuesday, the focus now lands on the other running back on CFL.ca’s top 30 pending free agents list, AJ Ouellette (No. 7). Will he do the same as Brady, who was listed at No. 1 on the list, and sign an extension with his respective team or will he decide to go elsewhere? Well, according to TSN’s Dave Naylor, Ouellette has agreed to join the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
So what about the other runnings backs potentially hitting the open market next week?
I, for one, can’t wait to see where any of these guys end up, whether it be on their current team or somewhere else across the country.
Looking at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats roster, I think they’ll be busy next week looking for some receivers to catch passes from Bo Levi Mitchell.
Tim White, Hamilton’s biggest piece of their receiving corps last season, is a pending free agent and all signs point to him testing the open market since he has yet to put pen to paper on an extension. Terry Godwin is also a pending free agent without a new contract, as are Canadians Hergy Mayala and Chris Osei-Kusi, all of which stared games in 2023.
They could go after Dalton Schoen, the biggest of the remaining pending free agent receivers. Or maybe one of two Argos Damonte Coxie and Cam Phillips, each of which enjoyed career years last season. Rasheed Bailey could be a good addition, too, who not only can get in on the receiving game but is one of the best physical, blockers at his position.