TORONTO — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats added a speedy receiver Wednesday but it wasn’t Derel Walker.
The East Division champions signed DeVier Posey, the ’17 Grey Cup MVP, to a one-year deal. Posey had 50 catches for 780 yards with three TDs in 12 regular-season games last year with Montreal, which released Posey on Jan. 31 reportedly to avoid paying him a $30,000 roster bonus.
After a hectic start to CFL free agency Tuesday, there were dramatically fewer moves Wednesday. And none involved Walker, who reportedly earned $280,000 last season with the Toronto Argonauts, making him the league’s highest paid non-quarterback.
And that was a surprise, given Walker was regarded the top receiver available in free agency. The six-foot-two, 187-pound Texan had 65 catches for 1,040 yards and six TDs in 2019.
The CFL’s top rookie in 2015 with Edmonton, Walker has 362 catches for 5,248 yards in 64 career regular-season games with the Eskimos (2015-18) and Toronto (2019). Twice he has cracked the 1,000-yard receiving plateau.
Posey fills a need for Hamilton, which released Bralon Addison (95 catches, 1,236 yards, seven TDs) this off-season so he could sign with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. Addison gave the Ticats’ a solid 1-2 receiving punch with Brandon Banks, the CFL’s outstanding player last season after leading the league in catches (112), receiving yards (1,550) and TDs (13).
Hamilton also signed defensive back Patrick Levels, who had 86 tackles and five sacks last season with Montreal. The five-foot-11, 187-pound American began his CFL career with Calgary in 2017 and appeared in two Grey Cups with the Stampeders, winning in 2018.
The Ticats dealt American linebacker Jordan Moore and the rights to a negotiation list player to Toronto for two players on the Argonauts’ negotiation list. Moore, 26, had one start in five games with Hamilton last year, registering five tackles and four special-teams tackles while returning three kickoffs for 20 yards.
Toronto also signed Canadian linebacker Chris Akie, American defensive lineman Drake Nevis and national defensive back Denzel Radford as free agents. Akie, a 28-year-old native of Cambridge, Ont., had 38 tackles and two special-teams tackles in 10 games last season with Montreal.
Nevis, 30, played the previous three seasons with Winnipeg, registering 72 tackles and six sacks in 50 regular-season games and helping the Bombers win the Grey Cup last year. Radford, a 25-year-old Calgary native, appeared in 25 regular-season games with Saskatchewan the last three years, recording two tackles and 28 special-teams tackles.
Canadian offensive lineman Josiah St. John returned to Saskatchewan. The former Oklahoma Sooner was taken first overall by the Riders in the ’16 CFL draft and spent three years there before being released.
St. John finished last season with the Edmonton Eskimos.
Montreal was busy Wednesday, announcing the addition of five free agents: American defensive back Monshadrik Hunter (Edmonton) and Canadians David Menard and Junior Luke (both defensive linemen) and linebacker Alexandre Gagne and Frederic Chagnon (both linebackers).
Hunter had 59 tackles, two special-teams tackles, a sack and two interceptions last season, his second in the CFL.
Menard, Luke and Chagnon spent last season with B.C. while Gagne was with Saskatchewan. All four are Quebec natives.
Edmonton continued shoring up its secondary, signing veteran Canadian safety Jermaine Gabriel (seven seasons with Toronto) to a one-year deal. On Tuesday, the Eskimos added free-agent American defensive backs Jonathon Mincy, Caleb Ham, Anthony Covington and Trumaine Washington.
While Walker’s availability was surprising, he’s not the only quality player still without a home. Among the receivers available are: Dominique Rhymes (65 catches, 1,056 yards, five TDs with Ottawa); Armanti Edwards (69 receptions, 1,014 yards, seven TDs with Toronto); Naaman Roosevelt (twice a 1,000-yard performer in five seasons with Saskatchewan); and Luke Tasker (three 1,000-yard campaigns, 35 TDs in seven seasons with Hamilton).
Also free are: running back C.J. Gable (consecutive 1,000-yards rushing seasons with Edmonton); defensive lineman Shawn Lemon (42 sacks the last four seasons and a ’17 Grey Cup champion); and offensive lineman Derek Dennis (CFL’s top lineman in 2016 with Calgary).
Veteran defensive lineman Odell Willis also remains unsigned. The 35-year-old had four sacks last season with B.C. but registered 11 in 2018 and has 101 over his 12-year CFL career.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2020.