Who’s left? The Top 20 players remaining in CFL free agency

The CFL free agency opened at noon on Tuesday with the usual frenzy of activity as teams scooped up some of the bigger names available in the early going. But there are still some talented players available and Justin Dunk, Drew Edwards and John Hodge have ranked the top-20 CFL players remaining on the market. We’ll update these rankings as players are signed.

1. Bruce Campbell, international OT, SSK
Age: 29
Starts in 2017 (career): 12 (27)
Notes: Campbell came out of retirement in 2017 and immediately solidified the left tackle position in Riderville. Ultra-athletic and just 29, Campbell is the best plug-and-play offensive lineman available league-wide.

2. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, international DB, TOR
Age: 29
Starts in 2017: 11
Key stats: 30 tackles
Notes: Underrated player who has manned the boundary corner spot in Toronto without a lot of fanfare, but he’s legit.

3. Taylor Reed, international LB, OTT
Age: 26
Starts in 2017: 18
Key stats: 94 tackles, 4 sacks
Notes: A durable veteran with four CFL seasons and still just 26.

4. Danny Groulx, national OL, EDM
Age: 27
Starts in 2017 (career): 6 (12)
Notes: Cut by the Eskimos last month, Groulx will be seen as a solid depth piece (and perhaps even a starter) by a hog-needy club. Almost 28, Groulx has low mileage and great size.

5. Brett Maher, international K, OTT
Age: 28
Stats: 41-of-50 field goals (82 per cent), 46.7-yard punt average
Notes: Maher played all 18 games for the Redblacks and was very reliable. He was the East all-star punter in 2017.

6. Bear Woods, international LB, TOR
Age: 31
Starts in 2017: 17
Key stats: 90 tackles, 2 sacks
Notes: An ageing veteran who likely has something left in the tank.

7. Ronnie Yell, international DB, BC
Age: 26
Starts in 2017: 18
Key stats: 64 tackles, 3 INT
Notes: Still young with a lot of experience, Yell could boost any secondary he joins.

8. Drew Tate,  international QB, OTT
Age: 33
Starts in 2017: 1 (18 GP)
Key stats: 338 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT.
Notes: Released on Monday, Tate jumps to the top of a thin free agent quarterback class.

9. Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, international DE, OTT
Age: 29
Starts in 2017: 11
Key stats: eight tackles, three sacks
Notes: His play tailed off last season which will cost him money in free agency, but he has starting experience and potential to reaffirm that role if given the proper opportunity.

10. Jerrell Gavins, international DB, OTT
Age: 29
Starts in 2017: 15
Key stats: 41 tackles, 1 INT
Notes: Season-ending ACL injury last October might give some teams pause, but Gavins can still ball.

11. Craig Roh, international DE, BC
Age: 27
Starts in 2017: 16
Key stats: 19 tackles, seven sacks
Notes: Roh put together three consistent seasons in B.C. and is in line for a pay bump.

12. Kirby Fabien, national OL, BC
Age: 27
Starts in 2017 (career): 18 (64)
Notes: Fabien has never fully bounced back from the devastating knee injury he suffered in his rookie season. A change of scenery would benefit this former first-round pick who is still just 27.

13. Eddie Steele, national DL, SSK
Age: 29
Starts in 2017: 18
Key stats: 23 tackles, one sack
Notes: Heart and soul type of player can be valuable to a team if used in a proper role.

14. Sam Giguere, national REC, MTL
Age: 32
Starts in 2017: 11
Key stats: 11 catches, 107 yards, 1 TD
Notes: A down year for a consistent performer – hardly surprising given Montreal’s offensive struggles.

15. Marquay McDaniel, international REC, CAL
Age: 33
Starts in 2017: 15
Key stats: 65 catches for 860 yards and four TDs
Notes: Reliable veteran receiver who was a salary cap casualty on Calgary.

16. Keelan Johnson, international DB, OTT
Age: 28
Starts in 2017: 2
Key stats: 29 special teams tackles, 13 defensive tackles
Notes: Dynamite special teams player who is finding his comfort level on defence.

17. Carl-Olivier Prime, national FB, HAM
Age: 28
Starts in 2017: 18GPs, 0 starts
Key stats: 2 catches in 2017, seven in his career. 6 carries in five seasons.
Notes: Though hardly an offensive juggernaut, Prime is a physical, durable – he hasn’t missed a game in four years – and intelligent player.

18. Travon Van, international RB, EDM
Age: 26
Starts in 2017: 4
Key stats: 71 carries, 283 yards, 17 catches, 69 yards, 4 TDs.
Notes: Van has shown plenty of ability in three CFL seasons but hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

19. Fred Plesius, national LB, MTL
Age: 30
Starts in 2017: 0 (7 GP)
Key stats: 7 special teams tackles
Notes: Injury-plagued season in 2017, though typically among league leaders in special teams tackles.

20. Juron Criner, international REC, OTT
Age: 28
Starts in 2017: 6
Key stats: 18 catches, 201 yards, 3 TDs, 6-foot-3, 220 pounds
Notes: Injuries have limited Criner to just 12 games over the past two seasons but Dunk’s convinced he’s ready for a breakout season if he gets the right opportunity. Guys with his size are rare finds in the CFL.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1256 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

19 Comments on Who’s left? The Top 20 players remaining in CFL free agency

  1. 7 of the 20 former REDBLACK and 4 of those from the defensive side of the ball that was among the worst in the league in 2017. All you need to know bout the mess here in Ottawa

  2. I’d take Marquay McDaniel over any of the receivers still available.

  3. After starting off listing positions for the first 2 players, you neglected to do so with everyone else. I would be a help if you could correct this.
    Canadian/American status might be good too.

    Thx.

  4. Jeff Garcia's Agent // February 14, 2018 at 1:04 pm // Reply

    Campbell’s 2 game suspension has definitely hurt interest in him. Likely won’t get the kind of offers he would’ve received before he was suspended. May be a long wait for him.

  5. Yes, Campbell’s misstep may cost him, but what is Saskatchewan’s intent with Steele and Foster?

  6. Riders got Zack Evans to shore up the middle. Hard to say about Steele and Foster. Foster seems injury prone.

  7. Edward Leslie // February 14, 2018 at 2:00 pm // Reply

    How song they forget. What about Derek Dennis?? The top Free agent one year and released just shortly before this year’s free agent frenzy. He was cut more for salary cap reasons than performance, even if he was a bit of a disappointment in Regina.
    Also three others totally overlooked: Darryl Waud and Simeon Rottier and Clarence Denmark.
    Waud got NFL interest by being signed with Washington a couple of years back and looked like a solid rotational DT, who is ready to start.
    Rottier is a solid veteran guard, who’s healthy.
    Denmark is one of the most reliable receivers in the CFL.

  8. Edward Leslie // February 14, 2018 at 2:02 pm // Reply

    Damn Auto correct! How SOON they forget, not how SONG! Although Derek Dennis might be a good singer too for all I know. An under rated talent for a possible CFL free agent signing.

  9. I’m surprised no one has signed Rider’s free agent Greg Morris. He looks like a future National star.

  10. Agreed, hope he’s back. Great speed, good special teamed and solid depth player.

  11. The top 15 are still very strong players. Tate should be in the top 5 if you ask me

  12. Error: You have Gascon-Nadon listed as an international.

  13. #5 & #6 (yes…. #5) for Winnipeg please and thank you!

    • You don’t have confidence that Medlock will be Money again? (he was still 80% last season, which isn’t his usual but not too bad either)

      I think he’ll bounce back.

      But Maher is still a better punter too — people tend to underestimate the importance of that.

  14. Criner is a real sleeper. Tall and very talented WR. Surprised he’s still available. I guess Henoc Muamba needs to be added to this list now

  15. Did Andy Fantuz sign somewhere?

    If not, why isn’t he on this list?

    Paul

  16. Hey Arnaud, you still owe me a television set. Hope you finally washed the grease from those hands.

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