With CFL free agency set to kick off at 12:00 PM ET on Tuesday, I thought I’d take a look at eight possible landing spots for eight of this year’s biggest free agents. Here they are.
DE Justin Capicciotti — BC Lions
The Lions went off the board early in last May’s CFL draft to select Wilfred Laurier defensive end Ese Mrabure-Ajufo fifth overall. BC’s reasoning for the move, while still misguided, was simple. Having decided to start a Canadian pass rusher as part of their ratio, Mrabure-Ajufo would serve as depth behind starter Jabar Westerman and incumbent rotational player David Menard. This decision flopped when neither Westerman nor Menard were able to make a consistent impact on defence. The addition of Justin Capicciotti would remedy this defensive shortcoming while maintaining a Canadian starting spot at defensive end on BC’s roster. It’s an added bonus that Capicciotti — a Simon Fraser product — has ties out west.
RB Andrew Harris — Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Andrew Harris is from Winnipeg. Andrew Harris has family in Winnipeg. Andrew Harris wants to play in Winnipeg. Barring a shocking turn of events, Andrew Harris is going to sign in Winnipeg. Harris, 28, would give the Bombers the type of threat they haven’t had in the backfield since Fred Reid rattled off 1,396 yards in 2010. Harris’ addition would also have a ripple effect on how the Bombers structure the rest of their roster, as the team hasn’t started a national player at running back since Sean Millington started a handful of games for the club in 1998.
WR Shamawd Chambers — Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Kent Austin has always structured his ratio to include at least one starting national pass catcher. With Andy Fantuz looking to be on his way out of Hamilton, Austin will need to add an impact Canadian receiver to avoid adjusting his ratio. Chambers, a Markham native, would be the perfect such addition. Fresh off a Grey Cup win that saw him named the contest’s Most Valuable Canadian, Chambers would immediately be a starter for the Tabbies at field-side wide receiver.
LB J.C. Sherritt — Saskatchewan Roughriders
Still only 27, J.C. Sherritt is likely to trade green and gold for green and white to follow former Eskimo head coach Chris Jones to Riderville. Sherritt had his best season in three years in 2015, recording 72 tackles and starting all eighteen regular season games for the first time in his five-year CFL career. The Riders are desperate for help at linebacker and Jones will need to bring in some familiar faces to help implement his system quickly in Saskatchewan. Sherritt fits the bill on both of these accounts.
LT Josh Bourke — Montreal Alouettes
Josh Bourke has done his due diligence to ensure he’s paid every dollar he can possibly earn throughout his football career — which is a good thing, by the way — and this year is no different. Bourke, 33, has the unique distinction of being the CFL’s lone national player who regularly starts at left tackle. Considering Montreal is the league’s only team to structure their ratio in this manner — and, in turn, have the appropriate depth along the offensive line — Bourke is worth more to the Alouettes than any other team. Montreal has plenty of players in the pipeline to eventually replace Bourke — 2014 and 2015 first round selections David Foucault and Jacob Ruby chiefly among them — but it’s safe to assume Bourke is going to sign one final deal to stay with organization he’s been with since 2007.
SB Nick Moore — Calgary Stampeders
The departure of Eric Rogers to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers leaves a massive hole in Calgary’s receiving core. And while John Hufnagel isn’t known for making splashes in free agency, he may make an exception after losing out on Weston Dressler for the second time in eighteen months. With Kenny Stafford and Ryan Smith set to hit the open market, Moore could be an underrated discount option for a team that’s looking to avoid overspending. Moore signing in Calgary would be reminiscent of the last time the Stamps brought in a slotback coming off a disappointing season — Marquay McDaniel. That signing paid off in spades and there’s a decent chance this one would, too.
LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis — Edmonton Eskimos
With Dexter McCoil in San Diego and J.C. Sherritt likely Saskatchewan-bound, the Eskimos will be left with two gaping holes in their linebacking core. Enter Alex Hoffman-Ellis, a versatile linebacker who, after two years behind all-stars Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill in BC, is ready to become a full-time starter. Capable of playing both middle and weak-side linebacker, Hoffman-Ellis would be reunited with Mike Benevides in green and gold. Benevides, Hoffman-Ellis’ former head coach in BC, was named Edmonton’s defensive coordinator on January 14.
SB Andy Fantuz — Toronto Argonauts
This one is the longest shot on the list, but wouldn’t it be fun to see Andy Fantuz in double blue? The Argos brought in veterans Dave Stala and Chris Bauman last season after losing slotback Andre Durie to a season-ending knee injury. Considering Durie’s durability issues and age (35 in July), Fantuz would make a great depth option for the Boatmen. Fantuz may be unwilling to join a new team in a back-up role, but it’s possible that a geographically-friendly offer may be enough the sway the ten-year veteran.