2017 free agent frenzy scorecard: West Division

The start of free agency brings with it a tendency for teams to overspend on players. With this in mind, I sought to grade each signing that took place during the first 24 hours of last season’s free agent frenzy on a team-by-team basis.

This piece includes grades for each early West Division free agent signing; later, watch for the East Division edition.

B.C. Lions

DB Matt Bucknor — C

Bucknor was to signed to enhance B.C.’s national depth in the secondary and appeared in all eighteen regular season games as the club’s back-up safety last season. He recorded just four tackles in 2017 — two on defence and two on special teams.

LB Tony Burnett — D

Originally thought to be the replacement for Adam Bighill at weak-side linebacker, Burnett was eventually replaced in B.C.’s starting line-up by rookie Micah Awe. With just eight special teams tackles through fourteen games, the Lions released Burnett in October.

DL DeQuin Evans — D

Evans appeared in just five games for the Lions in 2017, recording eight tackles and one sack. He remains under contract with B.C. through 2018.

Edmonton Eskimos

FB Alexandre Dupuis — C

Dupuis caught three passes this past season in Edmonton, while chipping in four tackles on special teams. Not eye-catching statistics, but fullbacks who stay healthy — Dupuis has missed just six games over the course of his four-year career — always have value.

RB Kendial Lawrence — F

The speedy return specialist was released following training camp. Though he was brought back a few weeks later following a season-ending injury to John White, Lawrence sustained his own season-ending injury after fielding just 20 returns over the course of two games.

DB Andrew Lue — D

Lue appeared in just seven games in 2017, recording four special teams tackles. He remains under contract with Edmonton through 2018.

Calgary Stampeders

LB Beau Landry — F

Landry never appeared in a regular season game for Calgary prior to being released in August. The former first-round draft pick ended the 2017 season with Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

OL Derek Dennis — D

Dennis became the highest-paid offensive lineman in the CFL when Saskatchewan signed him to a three-year contract on day-one of free agency last year. Eventually deemed a liability at left tackle, Dennis moved in to play left guard where he fared well; the problem is that no American guard is worth $180,000 per season.

RB Kienan LaFrance — C-minus

The 2016 Grey Cup champion was the presumed starting running back in Riderville after he was signed to a big-money deal. After missing the first three games of the season due to a hamstring injury, LaFrance carried the ball just 68 times for 273 yards down the stretch. He was released by the Riders at the end of January to avoid an off-season bonus payout.

LB Aaron Milton — F

Milton retired from professional football shortly after signing with the Riders last winter. Coming out of retirement in August, Saskatchewan deployed Milton at linebacker — he was a fullback for three seasons in Edmonton — in three contests that saw the Toronto product record four tackles.

REC Chad Owens — C

Owens played only five games in 2017 — three regular-season contests, plus two in the playoffs — but he brought extra value to Saskatchewan with his veteran presence. The Riders got a lot out of their talented young receiving corps in 2017, production they may not have gotten without Owens’ influence.

OL Ryan White — F

White started the season on Saskatchewan’s six-game injured list before being demoted to the practice roster. The Bishop’s University product was not retained at the end of the 2017 season.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

REC Matt Coates — C-plus

It took until October for Coates to enter the Bombers’ starting line-up and his regular season numbers weren’t anything to write home about: seven receptions for 123 yards. The value in this signing came during playoff time when the former Ticat recorded a 100-yard game in the West Division Semi-Final. Coates remains under contract with Winnipeg through next season.

DL Drake Nevis — D

Nevis was signed to a big-money deal on day-one of free agency that simply didn’t pay off. Recording just one sack and twenty-two tackles last season, Nevis was a healthy scratch for four games in Winnipeg despite a hefty contract.

John Hodge

John Hodge

John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.
John Hodge
John Hodge
About John Hodge (384 Articles)
John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.

30 Comments on 2017 free agent frenzy scorecard: West Division

  1. Owens was at least a B- Very productive when in the lineup. Injuries he has are not chronic so 2018 looks good once again

  2. Nothing higher than a C-plus – no wonder the West did so badly in 2017.

    • Bleeding Green // February 11, 2018 at 6:20 pm //

      Hahaha I like you.

    • Bleeding Green // February 11, 2018 at 6:22 pm //

      So true tho. Stamps should have won the GC. Wish they had so that they didn’t have the argument about the East winning the last 2 years in hand. West team will win it this year. You saw it here first.

  3. Hodge thrashing the west any chance he gets. Can wait to see the fluff piece he writes about the east.

  4. Why no grade for Bakari Grant and his 1000+ yards receiving + vital pass protection role? Would’ve skewed the results too high…or John Hodge simply forgot about him?

  5. I would argue that Evans grade should be an incomplete. He started with promise and then got injured. After that any resemblance of a pass rush disappeared for the Lions.

  6. TouchDownBC // February 11, 2018 at 8:26 pm //

    Bouno wouldnt spend on free agents so lets see what Mr.Hervey brings to the table in 2018

  7. Duron Carter not even mentioned. Im pretty sure at 120K Duron was an A+. Bakari Grant was a B+ as well. Odd article when you omit a teams best signings. Probably other impact signings missed off other teams too.

  8. BigRedMachine // February 11, 2018 at 10:20 pm //

    FA is the most over rated time of the year…

  9. I don’t think Dennis was moved to guard because he was a disappointment at tackle. I think he was moved inside because he was the best guard of the three American offensive linemen on the Riders and that is what the Riders needed. The Stamps did the same the year before on occasion when they needed two imports on the offensive line because of injury. Dennis started at guard for at least a couple games for the Stamps in 2016.

    I also agree that when Hodge misses some free agents, his article loses credibility – though I like the premise. Perhaps he could post an update with more complete lists.

  10. Rider additions:
    Brouillette, Marc-Olivier – D – retired before the season. Came out of retirement late in the year but didn’t make an impact
    Grant, Bakari – B+ – had a great year and exceeded expectations
    Minter, Zach – D – didn’t really establish himeself on the DL
    Love, Glenn – C – he provided great special teams, but was hoped to push for a starting job, but never really did

    B C additions
    Chris Williams – F – a big signing who was hurt and never found his game

    Edmonton Additions
    Travis Van – C – played well when healthy, but hurt a lot
    Aston Whiteside – F – injured early on and released
    Cory Greenwood – F – injured early on and missed most of the season
    Johnny Adams – B – not an all star, but started for the Eskimos and filled a spot in the secondary

    Anthony Woodson – F – injured all season
    Rory Kohert – B – provided good depth for the Stampeders, which was what he was expected to do
    Mitchell Gale – F – Cut in training camp
    Bryan Hall – C – played well, but the Stamps had a ratio change due to injuries and released Hall.

  11. I think you all missed that Hidges specifically said FA signings within the first 24 hours of free agency.

    • I hear you, True Green. But it’s hard to accept only half a free agent list. John should’ve included the entire list of free agents but he does have reasoning behind his madness (I guess).

      • SliderBasher // February 12, 2018 at 9:04 am //

        Its not that hard to follow 89…most leagues free agent periods have a frenzy of overspending in the first 24hrs where the value signings come from day 2,3,etc. Maybe someone or Hodge himself is working another article post 24hr after initial open and the value that teams go…you know give you your complete list as you say. Although I suspect you’re a Rider fan just looking at a chance to take a shot at a Bomber writer/fan. Oh and before you “1990” me (we know that’s the standard Rider move on BB’s); just know I’m not a Bomber fan so that’s pointless and ineffective

        • Bomber Implosion Blunders. They just keep coming. // February 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm //

          Actually basher being a Peg fan these past 27 years has been pointless and incredibly ineffective. As they can’t a damn thing. Unless they load up on exRider players.
          2017 Finally have a home game in the playoffs. Only to be self implode and get lambasted by the EE. Even when there was still the slightest of chances for a Bomber comeback. Dressler forgets how to hold onto the ball and gives a really lame turnover to Edmonton.
          Then the Eskimos go on to get destroyed in Calgary. Calgary loses to Toronto in the Grey Cup. So even though the Bomers made it to the semi’s. Even with a home playoff game Winnipeg was the worst team in the playoffs.
          They need SK Rider ex QBs to win for them. It’s a CFL record with how many EX Rider QBs played for 1 team. Start with Drew Willy, Jeff Tedford, Kevin Mason, Hal Ledyard, Homer Jordan, John Hufnagel, Kevin Glen, Tom Clements, Rick Cassata, Tom Burgess, Michael Bishop and yes even Kent Austin. Now the brains of this recently successful franchise has added another beat up, old and worn out EX Rider Warrior QB named Darian Durant! He gave everything he had to his Green Team. His Heart and Soul was left on the turf of old mosaic. But like the turf itself. All of that is gone now. It’s all been removed. Exactly what’s left in Darian to give to someone else… Nothing.

        • Not a Riders fan. Check.
          Not a Bombers fan. Check.

          Ashamed to let us know which team you do cheer for? Double check.


  12. JoeSchmuck27 // February 12, 2018 at 9:06 am //

    Who cares about the west… especially the stamps and the people with watermelons on their head :p

    • Jeff Garcia's Agent // February 12, 2018 at 11:15 am //

      The vast majority of the league, given that without those two teams and their fan bases, the league would collapse.

  13. Anthony Kaduck // February 12, 2018 at 9:52 am //

    You can argue about the methodology, but the point is well made – a lot of free agents fail to live up to their assumed potential. I suspect it’s difficult to isolate individual performance in a team game. Drake Nevis, for example, played very well for the Ti-Cats, but perhaps that was due to the fact that Ted Laurent needed to be double-teamed. And look at all those receivers that looked brilliant when AC was throwing the ball but didn’t pan out with other teams.

    I would like to see “someone” (Drew, Josh, Santino) do a similar evaluation for the East. A few big signings really paid off (SJ Green, Diontae Spencer), but Ernest Jackson was a complete bust. Not his fault, and I think he will bounce back if they put him back at inside slot.

  14. Paul Bomber // February 12, 2018 at 2:19 pm //

    Coates has been underutilized by Wpg… I think he could be the most valuable Canuck ball catcher on team. Reminds me of Jamie Stoddard in his prime (yeah… I know…. nobody outside of Wpg remembers Jamie Stoddard, but well liked & respected by fans out this-a-way).

  15. Not sure this is accurate on the Esks, because Johnny Adams and Forest Hightower were both picked up via free agency before the start of the season.

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