The start of free agency brings with it a tendency for teams to overspend on players. With this in mind, I sought to grade each signing that took place during the first 24 hours of last season’s free agent frenzy on a team-by-team basis.
The West Division scorecard has already been posted, which you can find here.
DB Abdul Kanneh — C-plus
Kanneh missed eleven games due to injury in 2017, but his play at strong-side linebacker makes him a valuable commodity heading into next season. A great ‘SAM’ is hard to find and Kanneh, who’d never played the position before joining the Ticats, should be a great piece of Hamilton’s defence in 2018.
DL Jeffrey Finley — B
Following three seasons of rare use in Montreal, Finley became a regular contributor in Toronto in 2017. Appearing in eleven games (and starting five), Finley recorded fourteen tackles and four sacks with the double blue.
QB Jeff Mathews — F
Mathews appeared in just four games with Toronto in 2017, starting one. The Cornell product completed just eight of twelve passes for 67 yards and is now a pending free agent.
FB James Tuck — F
The converted defensive lineman appeared in just four games with Toronto, recording four special teams tackles. Tuck was demoted to the Argos’ practice roster in July before being released outright in August.
LB Winston Venable — F
The former Alouette signed a big-money deal to join the Argonauts last season before retiring prior to training camp. Venable’s signing bonus — reportedly worth approximately $30,000 — counted against the Argos’ 2017 salary cap.
LB Khalil Bass — D
Bass recorded eighteen tackles in his first four games with the Redblacks, but eventually lost his starting role in favour of Serderius Bryant. After asking for (and being granted) his release from Ottawa, Bass finished the season with Toronto.
DB A.J. Jefferson — F
The Redblacks looked to help supplement the loss of three defensive backs to the NFL (Mitchell White, Jeff Richards, and Forrest Hightower) with Jefferson. The former NFLer was released by Ottawa after just two games with the club and went on to finish the season with stints in Saskatchewan and Edmonton.
LB Ron Omara — D
Omara appeared in eight games with Ottawa in 2017, recording one special teams tackle. The St. Francis Xavier product was released by the Redblacks last month.
REC Kenny Shaw — F
Fresh-off a 1,000-yard season in Toronto, Shaw appeared in just three games with Ottawa in 2017 due to injury. He recorded just six receptions for 66 yards.
REC Diontae Spencer — A
Spencer became a bona fide CFL star in 2017, recording 922 receiving yards and a whopping 1,796 return yards in eighteen regular season games. His outstanding 2017 season — capped by a 292 all-purpose-yard performance in the East Division Semi-Final — got him a raise on a new deal to stay in Ottawa.
QB Jacory Harris — F
Harris did not register a statistic with the lowly Alouettes in eight games with the club this past season. The former Ticat was released by Montreal in September.
DL Jabar Westerman — C-minus
Westerman started fourteen games for the Alouettes in 2017, but recorded just nine tackles, one sack, and six quarterback pressures. For a player who averaged fifteen tackles and 3.4 sacks over five seasons in B.C., those aren’t strong numbers.