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Around The League: 2018 Offseason

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10 hours ago, SpeedFlex27 said:

You have to get over this. We aren't the same bad football team we were a few years ago. The 2018 Alouettes are the Bombers of 2013. 

Why do I need to get over that? Its a pretty freakin' awesome thing to be where we are now versus where we were, No?

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On ‎1‎/‎17‎/‎2018 at 9:11 AM, SPuDS said:

Why do I need to get over that? Its a pretty freakin' awesome thing to be where we are now versus where we were, No?

Then quit hallucinating. There are detox & counselling programs you can get help with. 

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This is all pie-in-the-sky ****, but it's the dead of winter, and it's CFL news, so what the hell:

 

https://www.cfl.ca/2018/01/18/fa-shuffle-11-stars-swap-uniforms/

TORONTO — It’s only a matter of weeks before some of the CFL’s biggest stars become free agents.

Roughly 170 players remain eligible to test the open market on Feb. 13, and while the list will surely dwindle before then, expect plenty of star power to be available when free agency kicks off.

RELATED:
» CFL.ca presents ‘GMs Up Front’
» Free Agent Tracker: Who’s up for grabs on Feb. 13?

» The Waggle: Kevin Glenn’s tour + GM meetings

Last month I wrote my list of 14 players not likely going anywhere. Now let’s look at some players I think are more likely to swap colours next month.

Diontae Spencer

REC | OTT

Signing Diontae Spencer may not be the top priority for Marcel Desjardins. The REDBLACKS’ general manager also has to get former first overall pick Alex Mateas (OL) locked up, and changes are coming to a defence that could look a lot different in 2018 under Noel Thorpe.

Ottawa may have gotten Spencer at a bargain last year, but the electrifying 5-foot-8 receiver/returner is no longer a secret. Desjardins has often avoided handing out gaudy contracts, instead finding value on the open market — and based on those tendencies along with an offence that already features a wealth of high-end options, a return to the nation’s capital seems unlikely.

Possible Landing Spots: TOR, WPG

Should Spencer make it to free agency, he’s exactly the type of explosive playmaker Kyle Walters and the Bombers have been missing the last few years on that side of the ball. Also don’t rule out a return to Toronto, where S.J. Green, DeVier Posey and Jeff Fuller are all free agents and there’s the potential for change.

diontae-spencer-2017-6-800x451.jpg

DIONTAE SPENCER WAS A FORCE BOTH ON OFFENCE AND KICK RETURNS LAST SEASON WITH THE REDBLACKS (JIMMY JEONG/CFL.CA)

Ted Laurent

DT | HAM

He just turned 30, but Ted Laurent doesn’t appear to be slowing down. The Ticats’ defensive tackle played 12 games and registered four sacks in 2017, while his Canadian passport makes him one of the CFL’s top ratio-breakers. Surely they would love to have Laurent back in the middle of their D-line, but will the money work out?

Larry Dean and Justin Capicciotti are other key free agents on that defence, while a Johnny Manziel contract could also limit Hamilton’s spending ability on that side of the ball. On the other hand, if the Ticats want to get younger, they could lean more on Canadian and 2017 draft pick Justin Vaughn, who enjoyed a solid rookie season.

Top Landing Spots: MTL, OTT

We went through this two years ago when Laurent tested the market, and here we are again. Laurent said, then, that playing close to his home in Montreal might be a distraction. That might be on his mind should he become a free agent once again.

For Ottawa and Montreal, the need is there. Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed covets Canadian defensive linemen and can immediately improve his defence with such an addition. And speaking of proximity to home, Ottawa isn’t far away, and the REDBLACKS might lose Canadian defensive tackle Zack Evans.

DaVaris Daniels

REC | CGY

DaVaris Daniels didn’t have quite the season as forecast, but the 25-year-old is still in the prime of his career and will command top dollar should he reach free agency. No team has churned out young star receivers like Calgary of late (see: Daniels, Eric Rogers, Kamar Jorden), and the Stamps have a deep group of receivers with Reggie Begelton being the next in line to emerge.

All of that could make Daniels expendable should he head to the NFL or choose to test the open market in February.

Top Landing Spots: TOR, HAM

Purely speculative, but a move east might make sense for Daniels, who draws a pretty big following of family and friends any time he plays in Toronto or Hamilton. The former Notre Dame star would become a focal point on offence for either team, particularly Toronto which could use a young, big-name star.

DaVaris_Daniels_2017-800x451.jpg

DAVARIS DANIELS IS AMONG THE LATEST STAR YOUNG RECEIVERS THE STAMPEDERS HAVE DEVELOPED (PATRICK DOYLE/CFL.CA)

T.J. Heath

DB | WPG

The catalyst on one of the league’s top playmaking defences, Heath’s reputation as a premiere shutdown halfback is well-known. The field halfback spot is one of the most difficult to learn on a Canadian field and Heath brings to it size, athleticism, skill and experience.

Kyle Walters has his work cut out for him with Kevin Fogg, Maurice Leggett and Chris Randle also pending free agency, meaning Heath could move this winter.

Top Landing Spots: BC, OTT

There isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t like some help at the field halfback spot, so narrowing things down for Heath is almost a crapshoot. While I want to acknowledge a potential return to Toronto, I think BC and Ottawa will be aggressive in free agency in trying to improve their defensive backfield.

In BC, Ronnie Yell, Chandler Fenner and Loucheiz Purifoy are all free agents while the REDBLACKS are rebuilding their back end under new defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe.

Mitchell White

DB | TOR

James Wilder and Ricky Ray get a lot of the credit for the Argos’ Grey Cup run, but Mitchell White was the backbone of the defence that made it possible. His arrival mid-season changed that secondary for the best, putting it up there with Calgary as the best pass-stopping group in the CFL.

White is one of the best pure cover men in the CFL and should be rewarded as such in free agency. While the Argos would love to have him back, Bear Woods, Ricky Ray, Cassius Vaughn and S.J. Green are also in need of new deals. Jim Popp will have to pick and choose who he gets back and White may be his priciest option.

Top Landing Spots: SSK, MTL, OTT

Again, as we go on a run of defensive backs, it’s hard to predict where players like White and Heath will end up. White’s versatility makes him a fit virtually anywhere, as he played both corner and half for the Boatmen in 2017. The ability to play multiple positions should make him a fit in Saskatchewan, where Chris Jones is always looking for depth and could use a new boundary corner should Kacy Rodgers leave.

While Montreal is also an option after the departure of Jonathon Mincy, I foresee a return to Ottawa, where White would re-join his former defensive coordinator in Montreal in Noel Thorpe. White can erase opposing receivers in man coverage, which is key to Thorpe’s pressure defence.

mitchell-white-2017-1-800x451.jpg

THE ARGOS’ SECONDARY GOT A MAJOR BOOST FROM MITCHELL WHITE IN 2017 (JOHANY JUTRAS/ARGONAUTS.CA)

Chandler Fenner

DB | BC

Chandler Fenner spent most of his time at nickle/SAM in 2017, enjoying a career year on the way to 76 tackles, a sack and an interception. He also came up with 27 special teams tackles, showing an ability to fly to the football and make plays where needed.

A return to BC isn’t out of the question, but Fenner is in line for a solid pay raise and could look to see what he can get on the open market.

Top Landing Spots: EDM, OTT, WPG

The ability to play halfback or SAM makes Fenner a fit virtually anywhere, but Edmonton jumps out as a leading destination for the 27-year-old international. The Eskimos lost a big playmaker in Kenny Ladler and Fenner could fill that void.

Fenner could also replace Maurice Leggett in Winnipeg or Jerrell Gavins in Ottawa, both of whom are pending free agents with injury questions going into 2018.

Travis Bond

OG | WPG

Travis Bond was an important piece on Winnipeg’s O-line, a unit that was much improved in 2017. On the other hand, Kyle Walters has amassed some impressive depth at the position, which could make the Bombers’ GM think twice about spending big free agent dollars on an American guard.

Bond has the flexibility to play guard or tackle, making him an intriguing free agent option despite not owning a Canadian passport. The 6-foot-7, 356-pound North Carolina product will have plenty of options.

Top Landing Spots: SSK, BC, MTL

Could the Riders break the bank for the second year in a row on an international offensive lineman? The O-line is an area of focus for Jones, and with Bruce Campbell suspended and hitting free agency, there’s an opening at tackle. Bond and Dennis combine for nearly 700 pounds and those two together would give the Riders one of the CFL’s most powerful offensive lines.

In BC, Ed Hervey has made it clear that he’s looking to upgrade the O-line. That could mean adding adding another American after the team usually started four Canadians up front in 2017. That’s not to forget the Als, whose philosophy is to start two American tackles.

Travis_Bond_2016-800x451.jpg

THE BOMBERS MAY HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME KEEPING OFFENSIVE GUARD TRAVIS BOND IN 2018 (JASON HALSTEAD/CFL.CA)

Jerome Messam

RB | CGY

Has age finally caught up to 6-foot-3, 255-pound running back Jerome Messam? That’s one of the biggest questions going into free agency, as the 32-year-old will be one of the market’s most intriguing names if he doesn’t return to Calgary.

While injuries played their part, Messam’s 4.7 average last year was his worst since 2013, and 30 is usually considered the magic number where running backs tend to see a drop in production.

There’s no denying Messam’s value as a power runner and ratio-breaker. What’s the going rate is the question.

Top Landing Spots: TOR, HAM

Yes, considering Messam is from Toronto, picking him to go to the Argos is the definition of low-hanging fruit. But I’m more picturing Messam spelling breakout star James Wilder Jr., who’s similar in stature and running style. Messam would take some pressure off Wilder while those two together would wreak serious havoc.

Messam has never played in Ontario throughout his prolific playing career, so if things don’t work out in Calgary, Toronto and Hamilton both make sense.

Jamaal Westerman

DE | WPG

Winnipeg has been good for Jamaal Westerman, who’s become one of the league’s top ratio-breakers since coming to the three-down game in 2015. Yet Jackson Jeffcoat and Tristan Okpalaugo shouldered the load quite nicely last year when Westerman went down, likely placing the 32-year-old lower on Kyle Walters’ priority list.

It doesn’t appear that last year’s season-ending injury will limit Westerman going into 2018, and premier pass rushers with a Canadian passport only come along so often, making him a valuable commodity should he become a free agent.

Top Landing Spots: MTL, HAM, SSK

Westerman could fit anywhere, but I’m going to single out Montreal. Not only does Kavis Reed covet Canadian defensive linemen, but signing with the Als would put Jamaal alongside his brother Jabar for the first time in their careers.

Hamilton is close to home for Jamaal, who grew up and went to high school near Toronto, while Ottawa and BC could also use a ratio-breaker along the defensive line. No one is going to turn down an elite Canadian defensive end, but the need is smaller in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton.

Oh, and never count out Chris Jones.

Jamaal_Westerman_2016-800x451.jpg

BOMBERS DEFENSIVE END JAMAAL WESTERMAN IS A RATIO-BREAKER AT DEFENSIVE END (JOHANY JUTRAS/CFL.CA)

Roy Finch

RB/RET | CGY

Already considered the top return man in the CFL, there appears to be more untapped potential for Roy Finch. The 26-year-old will likely exhaust his NFL options before returning to the three-down game, but if and when that happens, a reunion with the Stamps is no guarantee.

Changes are coming in Cow Town and John Hufnagel’s first priority should be a secondary that currently has four free agent starters after ranking tops in the CFL in 2017. In the same breath, Finch could see an opportunity to become a bigger focal point on an offence elsewhere.

Top Landing Spots: OTT, WPG, EDM

I look at Finch as a player who could emulate Chris Rainey’s success in BC on the offensive side of the ball in addition to being a special teams ace. Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton all could use that star returner, while Finch would provide a nice speed complement to either starting running backs William Powell, Andrew Harris or C.J. Gable.

Just imagining Finch in Winnipeg, his speed could be a game-changer for that offence, with the combination of Harris and Finch in the backfield causing defensive coordinators headaches.

John White

RB | EDM

It’s easy to forget that a year ago, no running back was higher-ranked than John White. Then he suffered the second major injury of his career, ending his 2017 season and bringing into question his future as a CFL running back.

There’s reason to be skeptical, yes, but the upside is impossible to ignore. At 26, White is still in the prime of his career, while his torn ACL happened early enough last summer that he should be ready for training camp come June. And if that’s not enough, let’s not forget the 5.6-yard career rushing average.

White’s redemption story could be a top theme of 2018. But with C.J. Gable firmly entrenched as the Eskimos’ starter, that won’t likely be in Edmonton.

Top Landing Spots: MTL, HAM, CGY

Most teams have their starting running backs accounted for, but there appear to be slightly-opened doors in Montreal, Hamilton and Calgary. In Montreal, the Als should be willing to share 31-year-old Tyrell Sutton’s workload (as they often did last year with recently-departed Brandon Rutley), while White could compete with Alex Green for a job in Montreal.

Calgary is the darkhorse. If Roy Finch and Jerome Messam aren’t back, White would be a solid addition for Dave Dickenson’s offence.

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Be prepared to lose a few, we can't sign them all, there will be some surprises in terms signing free agents who come here, or players not coming back whether they don't want to stay , can't get the money they want, or the Bombers are going in a different direction. 

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I just hope that they continue to get better at bringing in recruits from the states because that is the only way to reliably be a contender year in and year out in this league. You can't pay everyone FA money so you have to be able to lose people and not worry because you have a guy no one has heard of ready to step in. 

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To be honest, I don't mind if we lose Westerman but get a NAT DT like Laurent or Steele. I think I will like that trade off. 

We are strong on the edge with Okpalaugo, Jeffcoat and Corney but need to upgrade in the inside. 

 

Edited by M.O.A.B.

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53 minutes ago, Noeller said:

Not a lot of detail yet, but it looks like Collaros has restructured his deal with the Gappers...

Sounds like its $450-460K guaranteed, which is less then the reported $550K he was scheduled to make but that's still a ridiculous amount of cheddar being forked over toa QB coming off a garbage season.  Jones is channeling his 2017 Kavis Reed...

Edited by Taynted_Fayth

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2 minutes ago, M.O.A.B. said:

Yes.

I think hes an upgrade over Thomas.

meh Thomas had better stats then Steele last year and has been a bomber for 5 years now.  Steele might be from wpg but IMO Thomas has probably endeared himself to Oshea and will likely continue to have a job here

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9 minutes ago, Noeller said:

Did Steele play for the Bisons? That's the only way I'd want him over Fatboi.... And even then...... I'm a pretty big Thomas fan. 

Yeah he was a Bison.

Just now, Mike said:

I’m in on Davaris Daniels at receiver if possible ... or Devier Posey

Daniels is a stud.  I'd love to see him here.  Posey is more of a complementary piece so I wouldn't want to pay him big money but if we could get him here at a reasonable price I wouldn't hesitate.

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