Who’s left? The Top 20 remaining CFL free agents

The initial major wave of CFL free agency has come and gone but there are still some interesting names on the market. Let’s have a look at the Top-20 players now available as ranked by Justin Dunk, Drew Edwards and John Hodge. We’ll update these rankings as players are signed.

1. Henoc Muamba, national LB, SSK
Age: 29
Starts in 2017 (career): 13 (50)
Key stats: 82 tackles, 11 special teams tackles, two interceptions in 2017
Notes: Muamba takes the top spot on the list after being released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Wednesday. A ratio-breaking linebacker, Muamba is a legitimate CFL starter who few expected to be available. He’ll command a pretty penny, however, as nationals of this calibre always do.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

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. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

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. 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.

16. 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

17. Daryl Waud, national DL, TOR
Age: 24
Starts in 2017: 0 (1 GP)
Key stats: None in 2017. 25 career games played, 19 tackles, three sacks
Notes: Young with untapped potential. Waud can be a starter in the league. Staying close to home – Hamilton native – could be in play.

18. Shakir Bell, international RB, EDM
Age: 25
Starts in 2017: 0
Key stats: 15 GPs in two seasons in Edmonton, 181 carries for 1,058 yards,
Notes: His career per-carry average is 5.8 yards which should be enticing for somebody to take a chance on.

19. Kendial Lawrence, international RB, EDM
Age: 26
Starts in 2017: 1
Key stats: Three CFL teams in six seasons, 2 career punt return touchdowns
Notes: Lawrence has been a difference-maker in the past, but will need to bounce back from a disastrous 2017 season in a big way. Cut by the Esks out of training camp, the return specialist was brought back following John White’s ACL tear to appear in just two games before suffering his own season-ending injury.

20. Cameron Thorn, national OL, CGY
Age: 27
Starts in 2017 (career): 0 (4)
Notes: Capable of playing both centre and guard, Thorn is a great option to fill the sixth offensive lineman spot with a depth-needy team.

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 (1391 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.

34 Comments on Who’s left? The Top 20 remaining CFL free agents

  1. CanuckDomer // February 17, 2018 at 3:11 pm //

    One more thing with Gascon-Nadon…lousy hands

  2. White Horse // February 17, 2018 at 3:21 pm //

    Taylor Reed is an absolute hard nosed MLB. Marquay is a super 2nd down clutch receiver. Canadian ratio players soooo important though. Some good quality talent available. Drew Tate is a very good back up QB.
    BLM will really miss Marquay. Cameron Thorn should end up with the Stamps again. Depends on how Huff wants to draft.

  3. Seeing Reed and Gascon-Nadon still free agents… kinda sweet for me as a Cat fan. Their mistakes still haunt my dreams.

    I know I should blame the team, not the player (there were other mistakes those games)…. but it’s damn sure easier to blame one player. Lol

    I really hope we (Ticats) pick up a DB or two though. Our secondary played better toward the end of the year, but we need depth there IMO.

  4. Rick cowan // February 17, 2018 at 4:46 pm //

    I hope the Rider’s can sign Woods and awash or just one of these guys the Riders need both a middle linebacker and a cornback

    • Rather Be In Hell // February 17, 2018 at 8:48 pm //

      No way Jones pays to get Woods, an international, to replace Muamba. He’s too slow to cover the amount of ground required from that position in Jones’ scheme. Woods works fine for a standard 4-3 D, where all he has to do is fill gaps.

  5. Be nice if Jones locked up Campbell before it’s too late. And maybe Giguere

  6. Clay Connor // February 17, 2018 at 5:20 pm //

    Whoever signs Daryl Waud will be getting a good football player.

  7. Both Drew Tate and Jerrell Gavins should be ranked higher than Taylor Reed

  8. Taylor Reed did not cost the Ticats that Grey Cup… it was poor officiating… again… Reed had incidental contact with Stamp player who admitted post game that he took a dive in front of the ref…

    • I’d suggest Mr. Snake that it was both. A boneheaded decision by a player out of the play…and the Proulx factor rising up and rearing it’s ugly head…again.

  9. Sign Muamba and Waud

  10. Can no one out there multitask when it comes to watching football. I am so tired of hearing that Taylor Reed lost the Tiger Cats the 2014 Grey Cup. If you had been watching the whole game and not just Speedy running down the field, you would have noticed that the call on Tank for holding was not only wrong, it was very wrong. Tank barely touched the guy and I agree with Snake, the Stamps player took a dive right in front of the ref who apparently was too dumb to see it. The Cats should never have traded Taylor, but someone should have fired that ref!!

    • Agreed, it was a needless call as Reed’s “contact” had zero bearing on springing Banks loose.
      Don’t blame Hamilton fans for still being pissed.

    • Reed was not traded, he was a Free Agent. Every contract since his original was for a single year.

  11. Waud never got much of a look in Toronto… hard to say what he’ll be.

  12. Bring Taylor Reed back to Hamilton!

  13. If Calgary doesn’t do something I’m afraid they are going to be chasing Sask and Winnipeg for second and third with us leading the way.

  14. So, you are saying that a ref shouldn’t throw a flag if it doesn’t impact the play? How is the ref supposed to guess whether or not a foul helps a play develop? He can only call what he sees or thinks he sees in front of him. Believe me, I’m the last guy to ever defend refs but their job is not to predict what is going to happen in other areas of the field.

    • It is a vexed question. One that Dunigan (for instance) seems to have a hard time parsing. As a quarterback goes through his progressions, how does a referee know whether he’s abandoned his first, or second read due to an illegal play by a defender, or not?

      I’d love to see PI’s and illegal contact penalties cut down. Referees should never be the deciding factors in a play, game, or Championship.

      However, asking them to decide what penalty should or shouldn’t be called because it may or may not have affected the play is next to impossible. The way to approach it, IMO, is to ask referees to “let players play”. This is NOT basketball. It is, after all, a contact sport.

      I almost never watch the NFL. But when I do, the 1st thing that strikes me is that on almost every passing play, there is some form of contact between receivers and DB’s, most of which goes uncalled, and 100% of which WOULD be called in the CFL.

      Officiating the “letter of the law” when it comes to PI and the like, gives referees too much influence over the outcome of this league’s games, and can lead to the impression that the league, through the use of the PI call especially, might use such a situation to favour one team over another. And ANY possible impression of partiality is death to any game.

      If you let players play, the field is equal for both sides. As things stand, any team, down by a TD or two, can just throw the ball…DOES throw the ball into the endzone an hope for a clall, and a cheap road to a comeback win.

      It may make for MORE scoring. But it has a bitter tinge of cheating, only somewhat less acrid than allowing coaches to call penalties themselves. Thank GOD that insanity is in the past.

  15. Edward Leslie // February 17, 2018 at 11:52 pm //

    I’m shocked that Simeon Rottier isn’t included in the Top 20. A former first overall pick. Consistently good. Lots of experience. No character flaws. It’s hard to believe that all nine CFL teams have two better guards than him. It must be everybody is bargain shopping and doesn’t have cap room for an anticipated $100,000 + contract. Otherwise somebody needs to sign him.

  16. Giguere may be consistently meh, but that’s about it. A top-heavy “steroidal” freak, Giguere has too much “forward momentum” to run a decent pass route, or deke anyone, any time.

    He has some speed, in a straight line. But after several seasons in Montreal, I’ve seen nothing from Giguere to suggest he belongs playing football, in this league, or any other.

  17. If Kavis Reed doesn’t sign Tate, or some quarterback with SOME CFL experience, this could be the worst season of the post-Calvillo era to date.

    As of now, if any Alouettes fan thinks we’re going into the season with a starting quarterback, they’re in for a shock. No matter what Kavis Reed will have us believe.

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  19. These last guys obviously have out priced themselves. It ruly is unfortunate but sooner or later your talent level which could be very good vs your age and price you want make you unsignable. McDaniel is in that catagory. Tate he won’t be sitting to long someone will grab his services. Bear Woods would be a nice pickup but again price is keep suitors away.

  20. Gobluebruin // February 19, 2018 at 5:33 am //

    Who do you all think will land Muamba?

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