With the release of the unofficial list of pending free agents – many of whom will undoubtedly re-sign with their current teams before getting to the open market in February – we’ve put together a list of the top ten players who just might be available.
1. Solomon Elimimian, LB, B.C. Lions, International
The 30-year-old is coming off a season that saw him earn the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award for the second time (to go along with his MOP trophy from 2014.) He’s a four-time West all-star and a human tackling machine.
2. Chris Van Zeyl, OT, Toronto Argonauts, National
The six-foot-six Van Zeyl is a Canadian who can play offensive tackle at an elite level. That makes him the most valuable commodity in the CFL after an elite-level starting quarterback.
3. Darian Durant, QB, Saskatchewan Roughriders, International
If Rider fans have their say, Doubles will be back in Green and White next season to open the new stadium he helped build. If not, they’ll be plenty of teams interested in his services despite what’s expected to be a hefty price tag and his 34-year-old birth certificate.
4. Charleston Hughes, DE, Calgary Stampeders, International
The 32-year-old led the CFL in sacks this season for the second time in his career. At 32, the two-time Grey Cup winner is getting up there but should have a couple of good years left.
5. Justin Medlock, K, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, International
Medlock signed a two-year free agent contract with the Bombers before the 2016 campaign but restructured the deal during the season. The chatter is that Medlock and the team have a handshake deal in place but he would attract plenty of interest if he hit open market again. He’s the best kicker in the CFL right now.
6. Derek Dennis, OL, Calgary Stampeders, International
Dennis capped the final year of his rookie deal by earning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman award, making 15 starts at left tackle on a team that allowed the fewest sacks in the league. Given the trouble teams are having keeping their quarterbacks healthy, a 28-year-old in his prime…
7. Matt Nichols, QB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, International
The Bombers say they want Nichols back after a season in which he led them back to the playoffs for the first time in five years but whether they are willing to pay what the 29-year-old is asking for remains to be seen.
8. Derel Walker, REC, Edmonton Eskimos, International
After finishing No. 2 in in the CFL with 1,589 receiving yards, word is the speedy Walker wants to examine his NFL options. He’d be passing up a lucrative contract to try his luck down south (by Canadian standards, but still.)
9. Bryan Burnham, REC, B.C. Lions, International
At six-foot-two, 205 pounds the 26 year-old Burnham is coming off a break out year that saw him register 79 catches for 1,392. There will be plenty of pass catchers on the market in February, few as good as Burnham.
10. Alex Bazzie, DE, B.C. Lions, International
A West Division all-star, the supremely athletic Bazzie finished with 11 sacks in his third season with the Lions. Unlike a number of other high profile pass rushers in the CFL, Bazzie is still on the right side of 30 – he’s just 26.