February 6, 2024

Ferguson: One free agency need for all nine teams

Arthur Ward/CFL.ca

With less than a week remaining until CFL Free Agency, there’s been plenty of buzz across the country.

Some teams have signed their own pending free agents to extensions, while others have rumoured to agree to deals with pending free agents from other teams.

However, there’s still holes to be filled on every roster.

» Home Sweet Home: Brady Oliveira stays in Winnipeg
» Costabile: 3 thoughts one week ahead of Free Agency
» 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

Who still needs what? CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson has one free agency need for every team.

BC Lions: Running back

This is as much about the strength of the 2024 pending free agent running backs as it is the BC Lions organizational structure. We know BC is going to remain pass heavy and with good reason, they’re really damn good at throwing the ball anywhere they want as evidenced by Vernon Adams Jr.’s spectacular 2023 Western Semi-Final performance.

The reason I give BC a running back here is it might do them well to add some more variety and different types of backs in a Grey Cup hosting year. It became official on Tuesday that William Stanback signed with the Leos, adding that variety with the two-time All-Star, Grey Cup winning tailback.

Edmonton Elks: Defensive line

The Elks were worst against the run in 2023, partially because they couldn’t stop opposing ground games and mostly because they fell behind early too often and were treated to a heavy dose of power running calls from opposing offences.

After trading Jake Ceresna away to Toronto for Canadian receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr., the Elks need to find some game-changers up front who will allow Chris Jones defence to flourish from front to back.

Calgary Stampeders: Receiver

Reggie Begelton is under contract but who will join him in the Stampeders receiving corps? (Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca)

There are plenty of names, loads of potential and more than enough respect deserving pass-catchers already on the Calgary Stampeders roster, but there is only one guy who really held the whole passing game in place last year.

Reggie Begelton is an absolute beast and under contract, and while most other names are too, I could see Calgary trying to upgrade their second or third receiver role if they are unsure about the reliability of players not named Begelton.

Saskatchewan Roughriders: Defensive back

Nic Marshall is gone and the Riders had a tough time stopping air shows from invading Mosaic last season. With Corey Mace now in charge, that will all change, with DBs joining a revamped Riders secondary that consistently has to deal with Vernon Adams Jr. Zach Collaros and a refreshed McLeod Bethel-Thompson in Edmonton.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Offensive line

What?! Why?! I know it’s going through your head as you see offensive line listed for the Bombers but the loss of Jermarcus Hardrick will sting and the interior was saved by Chris Kolankowski last season. Stanley Bryant is still a monster and the Bombers will continue to churn development from inside the organization but I foresee a seasoned name or two joining the Bombers in 2024.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats: Receiver

Who will Bo Levi Mitchell be throwing passes to in 2024? (Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca)

If Tim White leaves for Ottawa, this becomes an increasingly necessary pressure point for Hamilton. Even if he stays, who is gaining to be the high efficiency, chain mover for Bo Levi Mitchell? Bo coming back should push Hamilton’s chips all in on securing weapons around him to maximize the Mitchell-Milanovich pairing in Steeltown.

Toronto Argonauts: Linebacker 

Wynton McManis makes this seem ridiculous to propose, but Jordan Williams was traded and Adarius Pickett is leaving for Ottawa. The Argos will elevate Jonathan Jones in the middle but that cover linebacker role is a bit of a mystery right now and could be solved with a splashy acquisition of a Derrick Moncrief from Saskatchewan as Mace retaliation.

Ottawa REDBLACKS: Defensive back

The pass rushing duo of Bryce Carter and Lorenzo Mauldin are back, the linebackers are getting an upgrade with Frankie Griffin back and Adarius Pickett signing, but if that front is going to get their reward, the secondary needs to be addressed in a way that won’t leave Ottawa fans feeling empty and confused with such a talented front while giving up big plays behind them.

Montreal Alouettes: Offensive line

Yes, they won the Grey Cup and addressed many of their pass protection critics along the way, but the reality is Montreal struggled to keep Cody Fajardo clean through a meaningful chunk of 2023, specifically at the tackle spots.

If Montreal is serious about investing for a potential Grey Cup run in 2024, they need to work on the edges and create a more consistent pocket for Fajardo to operate from week in, week out.

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