February 16, 2024

Ferguson: 9 sneaky good free agent signings

Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

In any sport, it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of Free Agency. We naturally gravitate to the big names and we star gaze when the market opens, looking for franchises’ fortunes to change as names get put to contracts.

As fun and important as those big signings are, it’s the somewhat under-the-radar moves that can really impact a team’s fortunes. You may not think about those in February, but come June, July and August when you’re in the stands at a stadium and seeing your team in action you’ll scroll through the team’s roster after a big play has been made, asking ‘Where’d that guy come from?’

With that spirit in mind, here’s a sneaky good signing that each team made that will positively impact them this season.

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BC Lions | Pete Robertson, DL

With the loss of Mathieu Betts to that other Lions team that also fell short one game shy of their championship round, BC needed to add some heat coming off the edge and boy, did they ever find it.

Robertson has the quintessential pass rusher body type and a quick first step. If he refines his pass rush moves under the tutelage of Lions’ defensive line coach John Bowman — who had a massively positive impact on accelerating Betts growth — the Lions could be amongst the CFL’s most balanced defences with additions like Ciante Evans on the back end to compliment a highly talented group of National linebackers.

Edmonton Elks | Boris Bede, K/P

While were all dropping our jaws that Tim White still hasn’t signed or that William Stanback went from the East to as far West as he could to find his fit, the Elks upgraded their kicking game because Toronto just had a plethora of options and an embarrassment of wealth at the position.

With the Argos letting Bede walk, Edmonton quickly gained several yards in better starting field position for their defence if they can cover like the Argos coverage units did last season. That adds up in a big way over the course of the 18-game regular season schedule.

Calgary Stampeders | Trevon Tate, OL

The Calgary Stampeders need stability. They need Jake Maier to be who they believe he was when they let Bo Levi Mitchell head East and more than anything else they need to control the football more than they did in 2023 and establish their ability to run the ball on any down and distance with effectiveness. Trevon Tate adds to all of this, as Toronto sees the rare Stamps-Argos connection go back the other way.

Adam Auclair could blossom in Corey Mace’s system with a fresh start in Saskatchewan (Matt Smith/CFL.ca)

Saskatchewan Roughriders | Adam Auclair, LB

A multiple defender with a knack for finding the football and an underrated hitter, Auclair was a priority pick for the REDBLACKS coming out of the Rouge Et Or powerhouse at Laval. As a REDBLACK, he moved all other the place and tried to help close up as many weaknesses as possible in the linebacker and secondary positional as they struggled giving up big plays. I believe a change of scenery and Corey Mace’s vision for him will turn heads from start to finish in 2024.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers | Chris Streveler, QB

OK, it’s not a quiet or sneaky signing. There was a damn day-long celebration — rightfully so — for the return of ‘Strevy’ but come the start of camp he will be in the shadow of Zach Collaros as we all settle in to watch Brady Oliveira, Dalton Schoen and Travis Kelce’s ex-roomate work their magic.

Streveler will have his moment and make plenty of noise in the years to come, but 2024 is all about what he can accomplish perfecting his craft while working under Collaros.

 

Hamilton Tiger-Cats | Jamal Peters, DB

A player who has haunted Hamilton crosses the QEW line to fill the void felt by fellow long, physical defensive backs such as Delvin Breaux and Jamal Rolle? It fits all too well and despite him moving upstairs at Ticats’ HQ, the second I saw this move I thought it had Orlondo Steinauer’s fingerprints all over it. New head coach Scott Milanovich will reap the rewards of the Ticats adding a player they’ll be thankful all season they’re only seeing in practice.

Toronto Argonauts | Tunde Adeleke, DB

As Hamilton moved on from Adeleke for Stavros Katsantonis the same way they did Tunde for Mike Daly and Daly for Neil King, the free safety can kicked Tunde down the road; just not as far as I thought it would with Ottawa seeming like a natural fit for him.

As an Argonaut, Adeleke will be able to flash in the return game with Javon Leake leaving for Edmonton, while playing any and all of halfback, cover linebacker, free safety and anywhere else the multiple Double Blue defence can dream up.

 

Ottawa REDBLACKS | Dominique Rhymes, REC

Because it happened early I feel as though this slipped far below its due place in the CFLFA radar. Rhymes immediately changes the entire temperament and score zone threat of Ottawa’s entire offence, regardless of whether Dru Brown is the truth or Jeremiah Masoli resurrects his unfairly injured recent career path.

Montreal Alouettes | Sean Thomas Erlington, RB

A Montreal native who starred for the Carabins, I’ve always been a fan of STE’s game and the way he just produces every time the football touches his hands. Walter Fletcher will play lead dog but the National duo of Thomas Erlington and Jeshrun Antwi makes me excited to see new and creative evolutions of the Alouettes’ offence this season.

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