TORONTO — Once the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Grey Cup hangover subsides, GM Kyle Walters will have some work to do leading up the start of CFL free agency in February.
The CFL released its list of players eligible to become free agents at noon ET on Feb. 11. The Bombers have 24 players with expiring contracts, including quarterbacks Zach Collaros and Chris Streveler, defensive lineman Willie Jefferson (CFL’s top defensive player this year), tackle Stanley Bryant (twice league’s top lineman) and all-star defensive back Winston Rose.
The CFL list includes 280 players, although some have retired and are no longer playing. Still, league GMs face a busy off-season leading up to the Feb. 11 deadline.
Fortunately for Walters, he has the fewest number of eligible free agents. The Edmonton Eskimos lead the way with 36, one more than the Ottawa Redblacks. The Saskatchewan Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts both have 32 players, one more than the B.C. Lions, Calgary Stampeders and East Division-champion Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Only Winnipeg and Montreal — which remains in the hunt for new ownership and a full-time GM — have less than 30 potential free agents. Running back William Stanback, a CFL all-star this season, is one of 28 players on the Alouettes list.
Montreal recently signed head coach Khari Jones to a contract extension.
Veteran defensive linemen Odell Willis and Shawn Lemon and all-star punter Richie Leone top B.C.’s list along with Canadian offensive lineman Hunter Steward. GM Ed Hervey is also looking for a new head coach after DeVone Claybrooks was relieved of his duties after just one year on the job.
The same applies to Edmonton GM Brock Sunderland. Among the Eskimos’ potential free agents include running back C.J. Gable, receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebacker Larry Dean, defensive back Don Unamba and veteran fullback Calvin McCarty.
Receiver Reggie Begelton (102 catches, 1,444 yards, 10 TDs) tops Calgary’s list. Also on it are backup quarterback Nick Arbuckle, offensive lineman Derek Dennis and Canadian linebacker Cory Greenwood.
Receivers Shaq Evans, Manny Arceneaux and Naaman Roosevelt highlight Saskatchewan’s list. Also included are all-star centre Dan Clark, linebackers Solomon Elimimian, Derrick Moncrief and Canadian Cameron Judge and defensive back Ed Gainey.
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, the East Division’s top player in 2018, tops Hamilton’s list. Masoli suffered a season-ending knee injury this year and backup Dane Evans led the Ticats to a Grey Cup berth this year.
Other Ticats of note include: receiver Bralon Addison, Canadians Mike Filer (centre), Tunde Adeleke (safety) and Ted Laurent (defensive tackle), running back Tyrell Sutton, defensive linemen Ja’Gared Davis and Dylan Wynne, receiver Luke Tasker and defensive back Frankie Williams, the CFL’s top special-teams performer this season.
Toronto’s list include quarterbacks McLeod Bethel-Thompson, James Franklin and Dakota Prukop, leaving first-year Canadian Michael O’Conner the lone passer signed. Top receivers Derel Walker and S.J. Green and Canadian centre Sean McEwen also have expiring deals.
Offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan, an original Redblack, is on Ottawa’s list. So too is stalwart Canadian kicker Lewis Ward, quarterback Jonathon Jennings and receiver Dominique Rhymes.
And Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins is also in the market for a new head coach following the departure of Rick Campbell at season’s end.