CFL free agency: 10 players to watch on open market

Trevor Harris gets ready to throw against the Montreal Alouettes. (Peter Power/CP)

There will be plenty of high-end talent available when the free agency market opens up in the Canadian Football League on Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET.

A record amount of players could hit the open market, which means that we are likely set for the most entertaining free agent period in league history. For that reason alone, plenty of intrigue surrounds this year’s free agent class.

Let’s get you set with a list of 10 potential impact free agents in no particular order and where these players might sign.

Trevor Harris, QB (Spent 2015 with Toronto Argonauts)

Harris doesn’t want to go to a team that has an established starting quarterback, which limits his options. B.C. appears set to roll with rookie sensation Jonathan Jennings; Edmonton has Mike Reilly; Calgary’s riding with Bo Levi Mitchell; Saskatchewan has Darian Durant; Drew Willy’s piloting Winnipeg’s offence; Hamilton has Zach Collaros; Ottawa has the ageless wonder Henry Burris; and Montreal brought in Kevin Glenn at the trade deadline last season.

Toronto, who signed 36-year-old Ricky Ray to an incentive-based contract extension in December, might provide the best opportunity for Harris to compete for and win a starting job, unless a team like the Alouettes or Riders are secretly going to change plans at the pivot position.

Andrew Harris, RB (Spent 2015 with B.C. Lions)

Last week B.C. general manager and head coach Wally Buono came out and admitted that no contract offer would be extended to the Canadian back. That means Harris will hit the open market coming off a CFL-leading 1,523 yards from scrimmage in 2015. The talented national runner is from Winnipeg and that’s where he calls home in the off-season, meaning the Blue Bombers could be a logical suitor. That said, there will be plenty of interest for the Canuck who is in the prime of his career.

Kenny Stafford, REC (Spent 2015 with Edmonton Eskimos)

After being acquired by Edmonton for Fred Stamps in a one-for-one trade before the 2015 season, Stafford — whose uncle is NFL Hall of Fame receiver Chris Carter — proved he could be a vertical threat with a 15.6-yards per catch average and nine receiving touchdowns, which tied him for second most in the league. It seems as though the 25-year-old receiver will command too much money for Eskimos general manager Ed Hervey to be able to afford him. If the price is right, Edmonton’s Alberta rival could be a fit, or a team in need of offensive weapons like Winnipeg. The Riders could also be an option.

Josh Bourke, OL (Spent 2015 with Montreal Alouettes)

Three successive extensions kept Bourke in La Belle Province for nine seasons. He consistently plays at a high level as a ratio-breaking Canadian left tackle. If the dollars don’t work out in Montreal, there could be a natural landing spot in Toronto. Argos head coach Scott Milanovich spent five seasons around Bourke while coaching with the Alouettes from 2007-2011.

Ted Laurent, DT (Spent 2015 with Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Big Ted is creating a backlog. Hamilton has been pushing all off-season to try and get Laurent’s signature on an extension, but it seems as though the two-time CFL All-Star could wait and find out what his value is on the open market. Nearly every team would at least check in on what the price might be. People around the CFL say he wants to exhaust every possible avenue for a possible NFL contract, which could holdup a signing in the three-down league.

Justin Capicciotti, DE (Spent 2015 with Ottawa Redblacks)

Capicciotti is the best edge pass rusher with a Canadian passport in the CFL — 23 sacks in his last two seasons. It appears the Simon Fraser University product could be set for a move back west. Following new Eskimos head coach Jason Maas from the nation’s capital to Edmonton could make sense. Especially when you consider defensive coordinator Mike Benevides has utilized a Canadian at defensive end in the past — Brent Johnson in B.C.

Keon Raymond LB (Spent 2015 with Calgary Stampeders)

Production continues to come from the 33-year-old strong-side linebacker. Raymond plays the toughest defensive position in Canadian football and does it really well. He can cover, rush the passer and help against the run. If Raymond leaves the Stamps, he could find a new home in Winnipeg or follow defensive coordinator Rich Stubler to Toronto.

Aaron Grymes, DB (Spent 2015 with Edmonton Eskimos)

Chris Jones brought All-Star defensive back Patrick Watkins with him from Toronto to Edmonton back in 2014, and he could do the same with Grymes. Coming off a Grey Cup win with the Eskimos, Jones joined the Riders as general manager, head coach and vice president of football operations. Convincing Grymes, who was a 2015 CFL All-Star, to come to Regina could provide the defensive schemer with a flat-out stud in the backend to build around.

Justin Medlock, K/P (Spent 2015 with Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

As a field goal kicker, there is nobody more dependable than Medlock. He rarely misses a three-point try and can handle all kicking and punting duties. Expect Medlock to draw lots of interest from the Argos and Bombers if the Tabbies can’t keep him in the Hammer.

Chris Rainey, RET (Spent 2015 with B.C. Lions)

Rainey and his 4.3-second 40-yard speed really boosted B.C.’s return game in the last half of the 2015 season. In just nine games with the Lions, Rainey racked up 602 punt return yards on 48 attempts, 761 kick-off return yards and two total return touchdowns. And he can provide impact plays as a running back on offence too. It seems as though the speedster will likely re-sign in B.C., but if not, then Saskatchewan and Calgary would be possibilities as each team could use an upgrade in the return game.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.