CFL's top potential free agent pool whittling down
Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman Brett Jones wipes away shaving cream after getting pied during training camp at McMahon stadium on June 12, 2013. (Darren Makowichuk/Calgary Sun/QMI AGENCY)
Back in December, we gave you our list of the top 10 potential free agents.
That group has been whittled down to six with 11 days remaining until CFL free agency begins in earnest.
Receiver S.J. Green (No. 4) became the latest free agent to take himself off the list after signing a three-year deal on Wednesday to remain with the Montreal Alouettes. The others who no longer are eligible for free agency are cornerback Delvin Breaux (5), who signed with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, and B.C. Lions special teams ace Jason Arakgi (7) and Edmonton Eskimos defensive tackle Don Oramasionwu (10), who both re-signed with their clubs.
That leaves Stampeders centre Brett Jones (1), Roughriders right tackle Ben Heenan (2), Tiger-Cats return man Brandon Banks (3), Roughriders slotback Weston Dressler (6), Toronto guard Tyler Holmes (8) and Stampeders left tackle Stanley Bryant (9) who will have CFL general managers ready to whip out their cheque books on Feb. 10.
Others big names who have yet to re-sign with their respective teams include Eskimos defensive end Odell Willis, Argos tackle SirVincent Rogers and Alouettes defensive back Jerald Brown, who is one of the best in the business.
One intriguing name who came off the free-agent list on Thursday was Tiger-Cats receiver Luke Tasker, who re-upped with the Tabbies in a move that the Hamilton Spectator’s Drew Edwards first reported weeks ago.
Tasker led the Tiger-Cats in receiving last season with 72 catches for 937 yards and five touchdowns in 17 games. That led to his being named an East Division all-star.
The Duron Carter sweepstakes are almost over.
The Alouettes receiver and son of Cris Carter worked out for several NFL teams but has reportedly narrowed his options to the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this week that Carter had agreed to a deal with the Colts, although TSN690’s Joey Alfieri later quoted Carter as saying it’s down to Indianapolis or Minnesota.
Carter will join five others who have already been released from their CFL contracts to sign south of the border. In addition to Breaux, Toronto released receiver John Chiles (Chicago) and cornerback Jalil Carter (Minnesota), Calgary cut defensive end Shawn Lemon (Pittsburgh), and Winnipeg waived linebacker Ian Wild, who has yet to sign with an NFL team.
Saskatchewan Roughriders GM Brendan Taman has been wheeling and dealing quite a bit lately.
Last Saturday, he shipped defensive end Ricky Foley back to the Argonauts in exchange for middle linebacker Shea Emry, and on Thursday he plucked slotback Cory Watson out of Winnipeg, along with a third-round draft pick, for the 15th overall pick in May’s draft, receiver Kris Bastien and a negotiation list player.
The Roughriders added to their salary cap in both trades, which leads some around the CFL to believe Saskatchewan is expecting to lose some big-ticket items via free agency.
Assistant Riders GM Jeremy O’Day told reporters on Thursday that “talks with Dressler have intensified and are progressing but no contract has been signed.”
COLLIE OVER THE BORDER
Despite reports earlier in the week that NFL wide receiver Austin Collie was destined for the Als, the B.C. Lions announced his signing on Thursday afternoon.
Collie is a Canadian under the latest collective bargaining agreement because he was born in Hamilton.
Collie, who wasn’t eligible for the 2009 CFL draft, starred at BYU and caught 16 touchdown passes in 16 starts for the Indianapolis Colts between 2009 and 2012. He appeared in 49 NFL games overall and made 179 catches for 1,908 yards.
The 29-year-old had three concussions during his NFL days, and he tore his right patellar tendon early in the 2012 season.
Veteran Stampeders slotback Nik Lewis posted some odd tweets on Tuesday, leading some followers to believe his time in Red and White is over.
“Thank you to the @calstampeders for the 2014 highlights, so many memories in 11 yrs. I don’t know what will happen next, but I am Grateful,” Lewis wrote.
He was thanking the team for a video of his highlights the team put on its website, but it sure had a different tone and alarmed some of his followers.
That prompted Lewis to follow up with: “Hold on hold on. I’m not saying I’m done in Calgary, I’m just grateful for everything that has happened thus far.”
Lewis will be a free agent on Feb. 10, so this story is not yet over.
TOP 10, UPDATED
The Sun’s top 10 CFL free agent list has become a group of six.
Here’s the latest:
1. Brett Jones, Calgary
The centre has had NFL workouts, but word is he’ll be headed back to the Stamps if he doesn’t sign south of the border.
2. Ben Heenan, Saskatchewan
If Jones returns to the Stampeders, the former No. 1 pick and starting right tackle becomes the No. 1 target in free agency.
3. Brandon Banks, Hamilton
There have been reports the speedy returner had NFL workouts, as well, but there hasn’t been much buzz about his possible return to the four-down loop.
4. S.J. Green, Montreal
The import slotback re-signed with the Alouettes on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year deal.
5. Delvin Breaux, Hamilton
The former Louisiana high school star cornerback is going home to play for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.
6. Weston Dressler, Saskatchewan
Riders assistant general manager Jeremy O’Day said Thursday that talks are going well with the diminutive but talented slotback.
7. Jason Arakgi, B.C.
The special teams demon re-signed with the Lions earlier this month.
8. Tyler Holmes, Toronto
Most believe Holmes will be headed home to play for the RedBlacks, but Canadian offensive linemen usually get gobs of money thrown their way in free agency, so he will likely get several offers.
9. Stanley Bryant, Calgary
It sounds like the veteran import tackle is going to see what kind of money he can get from other teams.
10. Don Oramasionwu, Edmonton
The defensive tackle from Winnipeg re-signed with the Eskimos earlier this week.