Edmonton made a pair of transactions on Monday that appear to have signalled a ratio shift.
That likely means Edmonton could be set to use an all-American starting defensive front with Odell Willis, Phillip Hunt, Almondo Sewell, Marcus Howard and Cummings playing major roles.
After letting Steele go, who was a starter for the Eskimos and played in all 20 games for the green and gold last year, Elie Ngoyi remains the lone Canadian defensive lineman currently on the Esks roster. Edmonton elected to let Canuck defensive lineman Don Oramasionwu go to the free agent market and he left for Montreal.
Seeing Steele and his primary backup, Oramasionwu, leave the Eskimos signals a change in where they could employ the required seven Canadian starters or more. Neil King at safety, Simeon Rottier, Justin Sorenson and Matt O’Donnell along the offensive line (2015 seventh overall draft pick, Danny Groulx has started games too and O’Donnell could play tackle in a pinch) and Cory Watson, Nate Coehoorn and Shamawd Chambers at receiver gives Edmonton seven national starters, with those three pass catchers each having lots of starting experience.
Meanwhile, one important note for Edmonton and the ratio: Arjen Colquhoun. After going undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Windsor, ON native signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys. The Eskimos selected the Canadian defensive back in the second round, 17th overall in the CFL draft. After going to training camp with the Cowboys, he agreed to an injury settlement and got released among Dallas’ first round of cuts.
Colquhoun did not get signed by any other NFL team last season and he’s still looking for interest down south, but it’s possible the six-foot-one, 189-pound cover man could suit up in the CFL this coming season. That would give Edmonton a national starter in the secondary. Andrew Lue, who was signed as a free agent by the Eskimos, could be a capable backup to Colquhoun.
One CFL scout said in advance of the 2016 CFL draft on Colquhoun: “He could come in and be a starter at corner in our league.”
There are still ways Edmonton can supplement their national talent, some impact Canadians are left on the open market, including linebacker Cory Greenwood, plus the 2017 CFL draft in May where the Eskimos hold the fifth overall pick.