With the 2015 NFL regular season coming to a close yesterday, I thought it would be pertinent to take a look at the performances of Canadian players across the league down south. For the sake of pragmatism, only players under the age of 30 are featured on this list.
DT Christo Bilukidi – Free Agent
Bilukidi was released by the Baltimore Ravens after week four of this past regular season. Appearing in a combined 24 games for Oakland, Cincinnati, and Baltimore from 2012 to 2015, Bilukidi’s NFL opportunities may be coming to an end. The Georgia State product’s CFL rights belong to Winnipeg by way of his selection in the third round of the 2012 CFL draft.
G Brett Boyko – Philadelphia Eagles
Boyko, drafted by the BC Lions in the second round of the 2015 CFL draft, spent the entirety of this past season on Philadelphia’s practice roster. The UNLV product is listed on the Eagles’ roster as a guard, though he projects as a tackle in the CFL should he ever come north.
DT Stefan Charles – Buffalo Bills
Charles, selected tenth overall in the 2013 CFL draft by Edmonton, just completed his third season with Buffalo. The Regina product appeared in thirteen regular season games with one start in 2015, notching thirteen tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble. Charles’ contract with the Bills expires in March.
DT Christian Covington – Houston Texans
Covington, a sixth round selection of the Texans this past May, appeared in all sixteen of Houston’s regular season games in 2015. Covington recorded eight tackles and two sacks behind veteran nose tackle Vince Wilfork and will play in the Texans’ upcoming AFC wildcard playoff game versus Kansas City. Covington’s CFL rights belong to the B.C. Lions.
DT Tyrone Crawford – Dallas Cowboys
A third round pick of the Cowboys in 2012, Crawford turned an impressive 2014 season into a lucrative contract worth 45 million dollars through 2019. The Boise State product notched 35 tackles and five sacks in sixteen starts in 2015, earning high praise from Dallas’ coaching staff. Considering his high level of play and staggering financial earnings, it’s safe to assume the Windsor native will never sign a CFL contract.
G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif – Kansas City Chiefs
Duvernay-Tardif was drafted by the Chiefs with the 200th overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft and, after a season on the team’s practice roster, appeared in all sixteen games this year, starting twelve at right guard. Though the Chiefs’ offensive line finished among the NFL’s worst units in sacks allowed this season (45), they enabled their offence to boast the league’s third-best team yard per carry average (4.7). The Calgary Stampeders own the McGill product’s CFL rights by way of the 2014 CFL draft.
T David Foucault – Carolina Panthers
After appearing in five games as a rookie in 2014 (starting one), Foucault spent the entire 2015 regular season on the Panthers’ practice roster. Foucault’s CFL rights belong to Montreal, who selected him fourth overall in the 2014 CFL draft.
G Ben Heenan – Indianapolis Colts
The former CFL first overall pick was waived by the Colts this past August after he tore the meniscus in his right knee. Once healthy, Heenan rejoined the Colts in November and went on to spend the final nine weeks of the season on Indy’s practice roster. Should he return to the CFL, Heenan would be classified as a free agent.
C Brett Jones – New York Giants
The former Stampeder signed with the Giants this past February and appeared in all four of the team’s preseason games. Jones went on to spend the regular season on injured reserve with a sprained MCL. He is under contract with the Giants through the 2017 season.
WR T.J. Jones – Detroit Lions
Jones was selected by Detroit in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft and has since recorded ten receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown in career ten games. Jones, a Winnipeg native, is not currently on a CFL negotiation list.
OLB Andy Mulumba – Green Bay Packers
Coming off a torn ACL in 2014, Mulumba recorded three tackles in five games with the Packers this season. The Eastern Michigan product’s CFL rights belong to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who selected him second overall in the 2013 CFL draft. Mulumba’s current contract with the Packers expires in March.
G Austin Pasztor – Cleveland Browns
Pasztor, a first round pick of Edmonton in the 2012 CFL draft, was claimed on waivers by Cleveland this past September after three seasons in Jacksonville. Pasztor started the Browns’ final four games at left guard beside future hall of fame left tackle Joe Thomas. Pasztor is currently set to become a free agent next season.
DE Brent Urban – Baltimore Ravens
A fourth round selection of the Ravens in 2014, Urban has only recently began making an on-field impact south of the border. Urban, who lost his entire rookie season to a torn ACL and most of 2015 to a torn bicep, notched eleven tackles in the final six games of this past regular season. The Virginia product became a momentary household name in his first career NFL game in late November when, on Monday Night Football, he blocked a field goal attempt to seal a late game victory versus the Browns.
G/C John Urschel – Baltimore Ravens
A Winnipeg-born math wiz, Urschel has grown into the Ravens’ starting centre spot in his second year with the team. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft, Urschel appeared in all sixteen regular season games for the purple and black this season, starting seven. Due to his on-field success with the Ravens and off-field academic pursuits, it is unlikely Urschel will ever sign a CFL contract.
FB Tyler Varga – Indianapolis Colts
Varga made the Colts’ 53-man roster out of training camp as an undrafted free agent this past September. After appearing in the Colts’ first three games of the season (recording one carry and one reception), Varga suffered a season-ending concussion. Varga’s CFL rights belong to the Calgary Stampeders by way of the 2015 CFL draft.
TE Luke Willson – Seattle Seahawks
A fifth round selection of Seattle in the 2013 NFL draft, Willson has started a minimum of seven games in all three of his seasons with the ‘Hawks. With 847 receiving yards, five touchdowns, and a Super Bowl ring to his name, it’s hard to imagine Willson ever signing a CFL contract. In the event Willson eventually came north, his rights belong to the Toronto Argonauts by way of the 2012 CFL draft.
John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk