The CFL’s trade deadline arrives on Wednesday afternoon at 3:59 p.m. EST and there are several teams who view themselves as Grey Cup contenders who may try to improve their roster for a potential championship run.
The Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts are obvious sell-off candidates as their playoff aspirations are finished. But the Argos are proof that teams are capable of getting back on track quickly as they won the Grey Cup in 2017 after finishing last in 2016: franchises aren’t going to give away assets for next to nothing.
Veteran players with expiring contracts are often targeted by rival general managers because they come with a reduced price tag while not requiring the extensive negotiations a blockbuster deal requires (see the Johnny Manziel trade which was months in the making).
Here are a group of players who fit the criteria for being trade targets in 2018:
1) Duron Carter, receiver, Argos
Carter has been on his best behaviour in Toronto but he couldn’t help but spike the ball after his first touchdown in B.C. on the weekend: it seemed like the real Carter coming out even if it was just for a few seconds. But more importantly, the athletic grab provided reminded CFL talent evaluators that the 27-year-old can still make impact plays. Carter’s current contract expires in February and it has a low base salary making him a potential cost-efficient pickup.
Ticats head coach June Jones acknowledged interest in Carter when he was a free agent in August meaning at the very least Jones feels the 2017 all-star receiver could be a fit in his run-and-shoot offensive scheme. Carter could help a number of teams with his ability to go up and get the football.
2) T.J. Heath, defensive back, Alouettes
Heath has already switched uniforms in 2018 when Toronto sent him to Montreal for Canadian offensive lineman Ryan Bomben plus a swap of draft picks. The 31-year-old is a reliable cover man who can play anywhere in the secondary and he’s pending free agent as well. Heath has been a CFL all-star both years he’s been in the league, snagged 14 interceptions to date and stands six-feet tall enabling him to match up with bigger receivers.
3) Chris Rainey, running back/returner, Lions
It seems as though a change of scenery could benefit Rainey. He’s been on Wally Buono’s bad side a couple times in 2018, but as the 30-year-old displayed in Week 17, he still has the juice to take returns to the house even if the would-be touchdown was brought back by a flag.
Rainey will be free to sign anywhere after the 2018 season and Edmonton, Winnipeg and Hamilton could use a boost in the return game. A fresh setting and schemes might just bring out the explosiveness again.
4) Chris Ackie, defensive back/linebacker, Alouettes
Impact Canadians are difficult to come by so Ackie’s name appearing on this list could surprise some. But he’s about to hit the open market and if the Alouettes would be wise to get an asset for him now while attempting to re-sign him this winter.
Ackie was a favourite of former Montreal defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe (who is now in Otttawa) and Chris Jones or Ed Hervey would also value an ultra-athletic to ratchet up the physicality on defence. The cost to get Ackie might be worth it if you can convince the former first-round pick to sign an extension.
5) Jeff Knox Jr., linebacker, Argos
Knox has bounced back and forth between the NFL and CFL the last two seasons and each time he’s returned to the three-down game he’s been productive, earning playing time on defence and special teams. If teams seeking a trustworthy American linebacker on a one-year deal to supplement depth should a starter go down while being a difference-maker on specials, Knox could be the man to fill that role.