February 13, 2024

5 moves that mattered on Day 1 of Free Agency

Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

With the first day of CFL Free Agency almost coming to a close, there’s been plenty of news flying across our timelines.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders were the busiest of the bunch, inking deals with a handful of free agents after the clock struck noon ET.

But they weren’t the only ones to add new players or re-sign familiar faces, with many clubs across the country casting a line in the free agency waters, looking to reel in their next piece.

Here are five players that signed deals with new teams on Day 1 of the open market that should make an impact when the 2024 campaign gets underway.

A team by team look at 2024 CFL Free Agency
» 2024 CFL Free Agent Tracker: Who landed where?
» CFL.ca’s top 30 pending free agents
More Free Agency news, notes and analysis

Tunde Adeleke | DB | Toronto Argonauts

With the Argos losing Qwan’tez Stiggers to the NFL and reportedly losing Jamal Peters to the rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats, adding Tunde Adeleke to their roster gives a big boost to the team’s secondary.

He battled injuries in 2023, playing in just 10 games and tallying 31 defensive tackles to go along with three on special teams, but don’t forget what Adeleke can do with a full season. In 2022, he suited up in all 18 games, hitting a career-high 68 tackles and notching a sack, an interception and a forced fumble.

Adeleke played safety most recently for the Tiger-Cats, but the five-foot-10, 208-pounder is as versatile as they come. He’s played all over the secondary in his time in Hamilton, giving the Argos plenty of options of where he can line up in 2024 to replace the pieces they’ve lost in their defensive backfield.

Jalon Edwards-Cooper | DB | Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Riders signing Jalon Edwards-Cooper could be a sneaky good addition for them this season. Edwards-Cooper had his best season last year with the Lions and was a key piece in their secondary.

In a career-high 14 CFL games last year, he racked up 36 tackles, three for a loss, one special teams tackle and one forced fumble. He also had a hand in special teams, returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown in Week 15.

With the Riders giving up the third most passing yards in 2023 (273.8), having Edwards-Cooper should be an immediate boost in their back five.

Javon Leake | RET/RB |  Edmonton Elks


This was reported last week but Javon Leake officially signed with the Elks on Tuesday a few hours into the opening of the free agency period.

Adding Leake will be great for the Elks punt return game, with punts being the bread and butter of 2023’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player’s award-winning season. He returned four of them for majors and finished the year first in punt return yards (1,216).

In 2023, the Elks were second last in the league in punt return average (10.3) while Toronto, thanks in large part to Leake and his breakaway speed, was first with 14.5. Adding Leake should help boost that number in 2024.

AJ Ouellette | RB | Saskatchewan Roughriders

I know, I know, this is another piece that technically was news last week, but it can’t be understated how effective Ouellette should be this year for the Riders. With Ouellette, the Riders are getting a running back who can really do it all.

The 28-year-old hit the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career in 2023 in just 15 games. He’s also an exceptional blocker and can get in on the passing game, giving his new quarterback, Trevor Harris, an another option out of the backfield.

The five-foot-nine, 208-pounder was tough for any defender to take down too, finishing the season tied with Hamilton’s James Butler for most missed tackles forced (66), and he’s reliable with the ball in his hands, ending the year with no fumbles.

Malik Carney | DL | Saskatchewan Roughriders

Malik Carney has been one of my favourite players over the last few seasons. Not only can he get after the quarterback, he has 13 sacks over three seasons in Hamilton, but he’s been known to drop into pass coverage from his defensive end spot.

Something tells me that head coach and defensive coordinator Corey Mace is going to enjoy working with the versatile 28-year-old. He’ll be a great addition to an already talented defensive line alongside Anthony Lanier and Micah Johnson, especially if the Riders don’t re-sign Pete Robertson, who is still a free agent at the time of this writing.

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